‘This richly enjoyable book will entertain you on one page, enrage you on the next and make you get your walking boots on the third. I think it’s the most effective advertisement for the countryside I’ve ever encountered.’ Daily Mail
The English spring appears in the southern counties in March. It then moves north, travelling at the same speed as a walking man, arriving at the Scotland border in a few weeks. On its way, it loosens winter’s grip with tiny shoots of green, a haze of leaves and gentle gusts of warmer wind.
On the first day of last spring, Graham Hoyland set off from Christchurch to walk the season. Using a labyrinth of ancient footpaths running from south to north, he walked a new national trail – the Oak Route – so called because he marked each mile travelled by planting an acorn in the hedgerow as he went.
From Dorset, he meandered up through the New Forest, following the old ways to Salisbury and Bath, then headed north along the Cotswold Escarpment, up the River Wye, through Shakespeare’s Stratford and John Lewis-Stempel’s famous meadowland, across the Malvern Hills and along canal tow-paths to the Pennine Way. He then walked through the wondrous Dales – finally reaching the Scottish border on the longest day of the year, the 21st June.
As he walked Graham observed, smelled and experienced spring evolve, discovering England’s unique botanical, geographical and social landscape in the company of farmers, pub landlords, walkers and narrow-boat owners who he met and walked with along the way.
This is a rich, evocative and wonderful journey through the English countryside, seen at its best – bursting into bloom.
Graham Hoyland is a writer and explorer. A former BBC producer of history and exploration programmes, he was the 15th Briton to climb Everest. His previous book, Last Hours on Everest, detailed Mallory and Irvine’s fatal ascent.
Published by HarperCollins.
Available from www.amazon.co.uk priced £9.99