Cover Image: Across a Waking Land

Across a Waking Land

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Member Reviews

This is a delightfully cosy book, peppered with light humour and interesting insights about the world around the author as he undergoes a 1000-mile walk, ostensibly to raise money to save a species, but also to experience the changing of the seasons (and the changing of the natural world) in real time. 

His insights about the worrying picture for wildlife is an important wake-up call, and the book is also just a celebration of nature itself. 

I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I found this book to be educating and interesting.  It was little ponderous at time and occasionally a bit tedious, but on the whole I enjoyed it and it certainly opened my eyes to some of the conservation that would seem to be happening, but in reality it is not.
A very good book and I shall recommend it to friends.

I will post the review on Waterstones site
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I really enjoyed this account of the author’s journey up the United Kingdom from the South Coast to Cape Wrath, the most North Westerly point of Scotland. He was looking for evidence that the bio-diversity loss in this country was not as hopeless as recent headlines would suggest. 
There was nothing earth shattering in his discoveries as he walked but it definitely gave me a new appreciation for the unsung work that is carried out by so many volunteers who are passionate about preserving and even improving the diversity of our small island. It is a sobering thought that we have decimated so much of our natural world and that my grandchildren will see even less of it than I have. I liked the way that he was able to see both sides of the problems and that for some species, there may not be a good outcome because the odds are too heavily stacked against them. 
He makes extremely good points about the fact that a lot of our young people are becoming totally separated from the natural world and yet it is them who will have the responsibility of preserving what is left of it at the same time as securing our food and housing supply for an ever increasing population. The problems seem to be insurmountable but this is an optimistic book as along the length of the UK, people are working to make a difference. 
I enjoyed his points at the end where he has a created a check list of things that anyone who cares about the loss of bio-diversity can do something. 
I am really grateful to NetGalley and the publishers, Icon Books, for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I've been reading two books about older, white men walking long distance paths and while the other was a chore to read I found myself hurrying back to Roger's account whenever I could.
The idea to walk from the south coast to the tip of Scotland at roughly the same pace as spring travels north was inspired and his openness to new ideas and dialogue was refreshing.
He is aware of his privilege as a white man and reflects on this with as much depth as he does the natural world he is walking to save.

I hope that this book, and the plight of the curlews, gets lots of attention as it is well deserved.
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This book made me think about climate change and bio diversity as we follow the author on his walk from southern England to Cape Wrath and enjoyed his conversations on his observations and with people he meets on his travels.
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This was a rather odd book.

Over a 1000 mile walk, Roger Morgan-Grenville covers the length of Britain with an aim of finding things to be hopeful about within the current state of the natural world. However, the reader is almost 20% through the book before he even sets off on his walk!

There isn't a great amount of detail throughout the book - from the lack of photographs to a lack of observations about the landscape or the unfolding Spring season. A significant portion of the book involves conversations with people he meets along the way which, whilst interesting, isn't entirely what I'm looking for from a book like this.

There's also heavy cognitive dissonance between the struggles that the environment is going through and his love of meat. At one point he meets a lady who is discussing the introduction of oysters into an area of Scotland. Whilst discussing the benefits of this, he interjects to mention they're "delicious". He later also justifies hunting birds as they are merely "surplus protein" yet he is raising money for Curlew Action.

Overall, nothing new and nothing exciting. A rather odd book - a travelogue with not a lot of talk of the landscape.

Thanks to NetGalley and Icon Books for the ARC.
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For once, I was not the first person in my family to read this book.  Unfortunately, it was not long before she was ditching it, claiming it to be a poor blend of travelogue and nature writing, and having an author more concerned with meeting up with people to state the obvious and not to provide much new.  Also to the detriment of this, it was not her first book to feature a bloke walking from the south coast of England to the Scottish mainland's extremities, following the very end of winter all the way – she had much better memories of to call this a success.

I didn't, but I don't think that would have actually been a hindrance in me being much more inclined towards the book and its achievements.  It has a great sweep of scope, from the curlews the man is fixated on, to the regrowth planned for sea grass and oyster beds we will pretty much never see for ourselves.  And therein lies the rub.  A lot of this conservation work is done by people we seldom meet, in places we might never go and for wildlife we might never see – even in the south of England as a child I heard the cuckoo perhaps one year in three, and never of course saw one.  We haven't seen the profligacy of nature that was there before the industrial era kicked in, so have little idea to what we are supposed to be returning anything.  But if future generations are supposed to be caretakers for it on its path back to natural success and bounty, they damn well need it to be around and spoken of in the first place.

Now, the author doesn't go as far as say we all need to descend en masse to the wildernesses – even if half of the English are a two mile drive from some of the Pennine Way, we don't need to all make it our target this weekend thank you very much – but there has to be more joined-up engagement with the nature, and of course much more joined-up nature in the first place, for much of this to work, ultimately be self-sustaining, and not to tread on anyone's purse-strings.

And I liked the scattergun approach of this, finding at the same time a uniformity in style and intent.  I liked the fact I was told the wheatear (again something I have never seen) is actually so-called because of Victorian stuffiness getting things arse over tit; I liked having to google the red-throated diver and surely what is the most woeful brag in all of nature's sounds.  I didn't want for more detail about the landscape (well, alright, I did a bit) and I didn't find the fact I was seeing the evident portrayed in the conversational journalism that bulks up the book.  It isn't perfect – it takes a good chunk before a single step is made, and comes with a large-seeming amount of end-matter – but I think the book succeeds in what it wanted to do.  The author wanted hope, and in spotting this project, that campaign and that done deal, threading through the land, while they might not aid us to actually spot the critters and flowers they're aiming to maintain, they do much more good than harm.  And they ought not be stuck in the margins of the news, so far from our attention, when in their simplicity the very hope they can bring is so easily achieved.
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Across a Waking Land is a beautifully written, fact- and figure-packed account of the author's walk from the Solent to Cape Wrath, undertaken, with some trepidation but also huge amounts of enthusiasm, at the age of sixty-two. He walked in search of signs of hope regarding the state of our countryside and punctuated his journey with visits to sites where inspiring efforts are being made to repair our relationship with nature and reverse the severe biodiversity loss this country has experienced in recent decades. He approaches the endeavour with curiosity, humour, and humanity, and fortunately finds the signs of hope he's looking for. The book made me smile, laugh, and think, and left me better-informed, and more hopeful about our ability to reverse the damage done to our natural world, than when I started it. Highly recommended.
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'Across a Waking Land' is a fine addition to the ever-expanding bookshelf of nature-writing.

There is a familiar pleasure in reading a narrative of an author walking through the landscape, speaking to people equally passionate about conservation and restoration, and observing the nature all around. That said, I was surprised that despite the title and blurb of the book, there isn't a great deal of observations of spring unfolding. We get a few paragraphs here and there, but I felt something of a disconnect from the season of spring given that the author focuses on a broad range of conservation issues that pay little attention to the specifics of season. It doesn't make the book worse - it just means that the framing/title strikes me as a bit odd!

'Across a Waking Land' does take a bit of stamina at times, as the author is given to spend long swathes of paragraph at a time castigating the human race for its stupidity. I agreed with nearly everything he wrote, though I had a strong sense of 'preaching to the choir' - I can't imagine anyone who really needs to read this stuff picking the book up. That said, this is a great book for any reader who enjoys combining British nature and travel writing. There is true a warmth to it, almost Bill Bryson-esque at times. 

(With thanks to Icon Books and NetGalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review)
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The perfect book at the right moment: it made me travel, discover new places, learn more about the ecosystem of the places visited.
Loved the storytelling
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine
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An interesting view of one man's rambles are he walks around the country. Taking about the wildlife and fauna wherever he goes. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ebook
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