The North of England abounds with beauty, from unspoiled beaches in Northumberland to the dramatic Lakeland Fells, for so long celebrated by writers and artists. Wide estuaries, winding rivers, sheer cliffs, rushing waterfalls, ancient woodland, limestone pavements, and miles of hedgerows and drystone walls sustainably built and rebuilt over centuries – all form part of its rich heritage.
But these are, too, contested and depleted landscapes. Today the curlew's call is isolated, and many other species are in decline. Industry, urban sprawl and climate chaos threaten our environment on a previously unimagined scale. And while stereotypes persist – of dark satanic mills or "bleak" moorland – the imperative of conservation is all too often overlooked for short-term economic interests.
This essential volume reminds us how and why Northern people have risen to the challenge of defending their open spaces, demanding action on pollution and habitat loss. Contemporary writers including Sarah Hall, Lee Schofield, Benjamin Myers and Lemn Sissay take their place alongside those who wrote in previous centuries. Together, the voices in this one-of-a-kind anthology testify that North Country is a place apart.
Karen Lloyd is an award-winning nature writer and environmental activist based in Cumbria and is Writer in Residence at the Future Places Centre, University of Lancaster. Her first book, The Gathering Tide, won the Striding Edge Prize in The Lakeland Book of the Year Awards 2016. The Blackbird Diaries, winner of The Lakeland Arts and Literature Award 2018, is an intimate account of the wildlife in Lloyd’s Cumbrian garden, the South Lakes landscape, the Solway coast and the Hebridean islands of Mull and Staffa, and includes environmental narratives exploring the story of the last golden eagle in England and the demise of our breeding curlews. Abundance: Nature in Recovery enquires into abundance in the Anthropocene.