About the book

Rob Cowen lighting a fireIt’s very human to be curious about the landscape around us, to want to draw closer to the terrain we live in and to connect with it on a deeper level. It is an evolutionary trait that has been essential in our surviving and thriving as a species. We are born with this fascination, and it can be seen in the way every child delights in uncovering the wonders of nature. But as we grow older, the pressures of modern living can force this connection to fall by the wayside. At times we feel more like interlopers in our environment. We eat plastic-packaged food from around the globe, move from sanitized offices to gadget-filled homes in vehicles with tinted windows and climate control. We find ourselves too busy to even notice the seasons change unless it affects our commute to work.

Even those of us that spend time in the outdoors frequently do so without taking the time to really ‘be’ in it. We march across the landscape from A to B, projecting goals onto the landscape, often using it as little more than a location for sport. It is small wonder that in a poll conducted by the Natural History Museum recently, fewer than 25 per cent of Britons could successfully identify a sycamore tree. Two thirds were unable to recognise a peacock butterfly and 20 per cent couldn’t put a name to an ammonite, Britain’s most common fossil.

Leo Critchley launching a box kite by the seaIronically, in trying to establish our place in the world, it seems we all too often lose the vital link with our closest surroundings. In his book Last Child In The Woods, Richard Louv gave this disconnect a name, ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’, detailing its effect on children, describing symptoms that include boredom, depression, hyperactivity and loneliness. These are problems that have skyrocketed, along with rates of obesity, as more young people are forced to spend more time indoors and divorced from nature. Today, less than a quarter of children (24 per cent) visit a local patch of green weekly and it surely follows that the same is true of their parents.

Yet instinctively we all know that nature is good for us. It is a fact we readily attest to when paying more for hotel rooms or houses that boast great views. Hospital patients that enjoy a glimpse ofnature from their beds have been shown to recover more quickly and joggers who run through parks have reported feeling more restored and less anxious or depressed than those who do the same distance on a treadmill. The benefits of spending time in nature are rich indeed and there are forces deep in everyone’s unconscious that find a pure expression in the simplest of activities enjoyed in the outdoors.

Our book will help you discover what these activities are, breaking them down by terrain and season, explaining the techniques and why we should all be taking the time to do them. It is born out of a wish to share our passion for our landscape and the contemplative, reflective pleasures that are being lost and forgotten, but that remain essential to us all. It is our belief that it can help us all to get back to the place we all belong.

“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains.” – Walt Whitman.

Our book is out now. Please buy it here. You can follow our adventures as we continue to post them on this blog and write our monthly column for The Independent.

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