REVIEW by Chris Moss

NWR Issue 106

The Moor: Lives, Landscape, Literature

by William Atkins

A few years ago a nature guide in Patagonia informed me that the landscape we saw all around us – flat, brownish, arid steppe – was the most common of all the world’s ecosystems, and precisely because of this it was hugely underappreciated. In the British Isles, moorland is our steppe; it’s everywhere, either in famous named swathes – Dartmoor, Exmoor, the Yorkshire Moors – or in patches, as found across the so-called Desert of Wales, all along the Pennines, and, of course, in Scotland, where the Munros, Corbetts and Grahams compete with huge stretches of boggy moorland as well as with the prettier heather-clad muirs.

The reasons we acknowledge but perhaps disdain our moors are various. They can be hard to hike over – trudging in soggy socks comes to mind – and are difficult to photograph. They can also look bleak, especially in bad weather – which they are superb at attracting – and can be moody and perilous, in spirit as much as fact. We hurtle through them on motorways and holiday-bound A-roads, impressed by their size and sombreness but happy to be on our way to beaches and quaint townships.

But the moors are also hard to read, and it is this aspect that William Atkins addresses in this spirited debut...

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previous review: Under Milk Wood
next review: Carnival China: China in the Era of Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping


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