I am lying on a small slope, a heathland in miniature carved from the litter of old mine workings. High summer, with the heather in bloom and the grasses revealing small, roosting secrets. By day, the walkers and tourists wander, peeking in and out of roofless engine houses chasing lives and their echo long gone. Darters and damselflies buzz round with clockwork precision and graylings almost merge into the rocky substrata that suits them so well. But now, in this evening soft-light, the cars have departed and this patch of nearby wild almost belongs to me. Read more
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love nature. Or, more than that, didn’t feel immersed in, absorbed by, nature. Face down, lying on the smooth concrete surrounding my parents’ 1950s tank of a pond, nose almost to the water; so, so, close to the smooth newts as they tail flicked and nudged, peering into the green water for the telltale wrapping of a single egg in a curly Canadian pondweed leaf. When I was older, boyfriends and makeup held no competition for days wandering the local woods with heavy, too-big-for-me, binoculars slung around my neck, scouting for birds or badger prints. Or down by the weirs, dipping for snails and beetles, the rush of the river in my ears.
Only a few minutes away from my house, the Shropshire Hills raise themselves up the sky where they encompass the two fragile and beautiful nature reserves of the Stiperstones and Long Mynd. My three years of work for Natural England and the National Trust have resulted in Upland, which I hope contains all the love I feel for these wild places. Read more