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It’s the plunge that counts

Heathcote Williams: Waterlog by Roger Deakin

19 August 1999
Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey through Britain 
by Roger Deakin.
Chatto, 320 pp., £15.99, May 1999, 0 7011 6652 5
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... RogerDeakin has swum through England. Instead of a travelogue, he has written a waterlog, and instead of being waterlogged, he has moved around the country untrammelled, and often naked. In this seductive book ...

Chucky, Hirple, Clart

David Craig: Robert Macfarlane

23 September 2015
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 387 pp., £20, March 2015, 978 0 241 14653 8
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... of books by writers such as Peter Davidson (The Idea of North), Nan Shepherd (The Living Mountain), Richard Jefferies (Nature near London), J.A. Baker (The Peregrine), Jacquetta Hawkes (A Land) and RogerDeakin (Waterlog). It’s interesting that all these were connoisseurs of nature rather than workers with it or in it. Macfarlane’s accounts of them have a scholar’s thoroughness and also bring ...

A Lone Enraptured Male

Kathleen Jamie: The Cult of the Wild

6 March 2008
The Wild Places 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Granta, 340 pp., £18.99, September 2007, 978 1 86207 941 0
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... gambit – or a brave admission – and he will graciously recant in due course. But there is a lot of boldly going. Mostly alone, occasionally in the company of his friend and mentor the late RogerDeakin, Macfarlane made a series of highly researched journeys into the British and Irish landscape seeking those places ‘not on the road map’, seeking the ‘glimmerings of a wild consciousness ...

Where the Apples Come From

T.C. Smout: What Makes an Oak Tree Grow

29 November 2007
by Oliver Rackham.
Collins, 609 pp., £25, September 2006, 0 00 720243 1
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Beechcombings: The Narratives of Trees 
by Richard Mabey.
Chatto, 289 pp., £20, October 2007, 978 1 85619 733 5
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Wildwood: A Journey through Trees 
by Roger Deakin.
Hamish Hamilton, 391 pp., £20, May 2007, 978 0 241 14184 7
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The Wild Trees: What if the Last Wilderness Is above Our Heads? 
by Richard Preston.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £20, August 2007, 978 1 84614 023 5
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... ground. In woods like Glen Finglas or Hainault Forest (not as vanished as Mabey makes out), however, it is increasingly able to rely mainly on grazing and natural regeneration to do the job. RogerDeakin’s Wildwood, edited from a manuscript completed before the author’s death last year, is an idiosyncratic delight. It is meditation and description, nature writing and travel writing, rooted in his ...


Stephen Sedley: Judge Dredd

7 June 2007
... on my way to court. I have a swim most mornings in the heated outdoor pool at the Oasis, which gazes up between flats and office blocks at the sky over Shaftesbury Avenue and Covent Garden. The late RogerDeakin, in Waterlog, his delightful narrative of swimming round the British Isles, found this pool at one of its magical moments, with snow falling through the steam onto the swimmers, as it was ...

Dykes, Drongs, Sarns, Snickets

David Craig: Walking England

20 December 2012
The English Lakes: A History 
by Ian Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £16.99, March 2012, 978 1 4088 0958 7
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The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 0 241 14381 0
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... with the extra strand that he knows he is going to write about his journeys. It’s at this point that a precarious balance must be kept. As the person walks (or sails, or climbs, or swims like RogerDeakin in the delightfully graphic and immediate Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey through Britain), mental notes will inevitably be scribbling themselves; the telling will be flawed if the impulse of ...

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