378 pages, 8 plates with colour photos; 1 b/w map
Walking Through Spring follows Graham Hoyland's journey as he creates a new national trail, walking with the Spring from the south coast in March up to the border with Scotland, which he reaches on the longest day: the twenty-first of June.
How does the Earth's angle to the sun make the seasons change? Which plants start blooming first? Which birds survive the bitter winter in our hedgerows and which arrive from overseas? Graham Hoyland introduces us to England's unique botanical, geographical and social landscape as Spring unfolds across the country – from dairy cows cantering and kicking their heels when released into lush meadows in the West Country, to new lambs in the Peak District.
Avoiding roads, Walking Through Spring begins on the sea shore at Lymington, up through the New Forest, following the old ways to Salisbury and Bath, then heads north along the Cotswold Escarpment, up the River Wye through England's secret county of Herefordshire to Offa's Dyke. Hoyland takes us through John Lewis-Stempel's famous meadowland, across the Malvern Hills and along canal tow-paths to the Pennine Way, Yorkshire Dales and the English Border country.
The journey also engages with England's rural characters: farmers, tractor drivers, pub landlords and narrow-boat owners. What does Spring mean to them? Is it really getting earlier every year? Away from the streams of gleaming cars and motorways, can Springtime help us reconnect with the old England of The Wildwood and Pan?
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Graham Hoyland's The Last Hours on Everest explored his discovery of George Mallory's fate in a similarly discursive way. A former BBC Radio 4 producer of history and exploration programmes, he was the 15th Briton to climb Everest and also writes regularly for the Independent.