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By: David St John Thomas
536 pages, Col plates
Remote Britain relishes the ever-changing landscapes of our island and the people who grow out of them. And the constant surprises. Who, for example, would guess that some of England's remotest hilly walks are to be found in the Lincolnshire Wolds, how sharp are the contrasts to be found within the Isles of Scilly, how remote it is possible to feel in Essex, or how extraordinary is 'Yorkshire's teardrop', Spurn Point, way out in the Humber estuary? There is an abandoned railway even to that spot. As in his acclaimed Journey Through Britain, Mr Thomas finds remains of railways and even active steam trains in the most unlikely of places, stays in hotels to fall in love with or to hate, and is never short of people to express their own views, as he does colourfully himself in chapters such as 'In the Footsteps of the Queen Mother'.
This thinking traveller's tour of some of Britain's most out-of-the-way places throws up many common themes. Populations are small but contented. The sea was the historic highway, opening up trade and bringing Christianity well before it reached most inland areas. The armed forces still command many areas of great scenery yet reductions in personnel have lessened employment, prospects in some particularly remote areas suh as the northern extremity of Britain, Unst with its unique history and way of life. In the National Parks and along the great cliffs of Upland Britain, the marshy areas and crumbling coastlines of the lowland east, and the surprising cut-off places in more central areas, Mr Thomas is fascinated by exotic historical touches and the ways people live and work.
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