Landscape and nature have been written about for centuries, and as with any subject that is revisited so repeatedly, a particular language seems to have developed. From the historic, sentimental, almost anthropomorphised view of wildlife, to more recent work that’s totally reasoned, heavily researched and completely detached. So the first time I heard The Salt Path described as nature writing I was shocked. I hadn’t thought I was writing about nature, merely describing my life as it unfolded along a strip of wild headland. But that made me reread my own writing with different eyes and reconsider my sense of what the natural world is, and how I relate to it.
Now I can see that, of course, it was nature writing but, as with everyone else’s work, it was influenced by my own interaction with the environment. That understanding of myself underpins my next book - The Wild Silence. It’s a very personal book, in which I’ve explored how the fundamental need for wild space has driven my life, but it’s probably much more than that.
During my short journey as a writer I’ve been struck by one seemingly unanswerable question – do we choose the books we read based on our own life experience, or are our experiences influenced by the books we’ve read? In considering my favourite books of nature writing, I think I found my answer.