A visit to the rapid where she lost a cherished friend unexpectedly reignites Amy-Jane Beer's love of rivers setting her on a journey of natural, cultural and emotional discovery.
On New Year's Day 2012, Amy-Jane Beer's beloved friend Kate set out with a group of others to kayak the River Rawthey in Cumbria. Kate never came home, and her death left her devoted family and friends bereft and unmoored.
Returning to visit the Rawthey years later, Amy realises how much she misses the connection to the natural world she always felt when on or close to rivers, and so begins a new phase of exploration.
The Flow is a book about water, and, like water, it meanders, cascades and percolates through many lives, landscapes and stories. From West Country torrents to Levels and Fens, rocky Welsh canyons, the salmon highways of Scotland and the chalk rivers of the Yorkshire Wolds, Amy-Jane follows springs, streams and rivers to explore tributary themes of wildness and wonder, loss and healing, mythology and history, cyclicity and transformation.
Threading together places and voices from across Britain, The Flow is a profound, immersive exploration of our personal and ecological place in nature.
Amy-Jane Beer is a biologist turned naturalist and writer. She has worked for more than 20 years as a science writer and editor, contributing to more than 40 books on natural history. She is currently a Country Diarist for The Guardian, a columnist for British Wildlife and a feature writer for BBC Wildlife magazine, among others. She campaigns for the equality of access to nature and collaboration between the farming and conservation sectors. She is a member of the steering group of the environmental arts charity New Networks for Nature and the land rights campaign RightToRoam.org.uk, and honorary President of the national park society Friends of the Dales.
"The perfect commingling of deep research with sparkling observation and quiet eddies of feeling, helmed by a lifelong kayaker, biologist and all-round adventurous soul [...] small wonder The Flow is such a knockout. I loved it."
– Melissa Harrison, author of All Among the Barley
"A quietly courageous, open-hearted exploration of Britain's becks, bourns and streams."
– Patrick Barkham, author of The Butterfly Isles
"Lyrical, wholehearted and wise, The Flow is a hymn for the rivers of Britain."
– Lee Schofield, author of Wild Fell
"Honest, raw and moving, Amy's prose is as captivating as the rivers she describes. I thought I knew what rivers were, but this stunning book is a powerful reminder of their infinity, their mystery, and their bewildering complexity."
– Sophie Pavelle, author of Forget Me Not
"The Flow moves deftly between deeply touching personal experience and carefully-researched erudition. It is a book of wit, of wonder and of wisdom."
– Nick Acheson, naturalist and conservationist
"The Flow is an extraordinary book by an extraordinary author."
– Chris Jones, conservationist and farmer
"A gutsy biologist with webbed feet, Amy-Jane Beer plunges the reader into rivers the length and breadth of Britain. We emerge bathed in wonder and full of fresh understanding."
– Derek Niemann, author of Birds in a Cage
"Part memoir, part celebration of the many rivers and waters of Britain, The Flow is passionately alive – a work of tremendous range and scope by one of our finest writers about the living world."
– Caspar Henderson, author of The Book of Barely Imagined Beings
"The Flow is a tour de force: blending crystal-clear prose with mythic poetry and a cascade of lucid facts, washed down with uplifting insights into life, death and the water that sustains us."
– Guy Shrubsole, author of Who Owns England?
"Haunted by loss, The Flow is about the urgency of a life, land and love."
– Nicola Chester, author of On Gallows Down
"From the incredibly moving opening scene, to a delightful conclusion, Amy-Jane Beer takes us on a journey on, in and through the waterways of Britain, in sparkling prose. A worthy successor to Roger Deakin's Waterlog."
– Stephen Moss, author and naturalist