FOLDE DOWN THE PAGE

It's fair to say that books form an essential part of our escape from the everyday. While we love getting outside, there isn't always the time, we're travelling, or the weather sets out against us. Sometimes the need to hunker down with a roaring fire, warm cat, and a glass of some hedgerow infused gin is a much better proposition than water down the neck and wet toes.

We've gathered some of our favourite reads here, and we'll be adding to them over the coming weeks.

Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey through Britain

Roger Deakin

When the late Roger Deakin decided to swim through the British Isles at the end of the 1990s, there was no inkling of the resurgence in interest in wild swimming that would follow a decade or two later. He may have been ahead of his time but he shared the same conviction about the therapeutic benefits of being “in nature”, as he put it, as many of today’s growing number of outdoor swimmers. Deakin’s account of his adventures, Waterlog, has become a bible to many and has inspired some to seek out the locations he describes in the book. Dorset features (of course!) as the place where Deakin first tried out his idea of “an amphibious ramble” in “some of the best sea-bathing in the whole of England”. We’re not going to argue with that.

As enthusiastic, if not accomplished, swimmers, we can’t pretend that we share anything of Deakin’s fearlessness – some of his swims require more bravery than we will ever be able to muster – but we can testify to his conviction that wild swimming has a significant impact on our mental health. “Natural water has always held the magical power to cure. Somehow or other, it transmits its own self-regenerating powers to the swimmer. I can dive in with a long face and what feels like a terminal case of depression, and come out a whistling idiot.”

Waterlog is considered by some to be one of the most influential pieces of nature writing since it was published in 1999; even if you count yourself as no more than an occasional seaside paddler, it's hard not to be inspired by Deakin’s joie de vivre and his assertion of the swimmer’s right to roam. Recommended.

The Hedgerow Apothecary

Christine Iverson

This beautifully illustrated guide takes you through the benefits of the plants, flowers and berries to be found in our hedgerows.

Regardless of whether you feel that tinctures and infusions are your thing, the reader is drawn to studying in more detail the plentiful verges of our lanes and byways.

​There's a comforting tone to the wisdom shared that links us back to a different time, and a feeling that perhaps, indeed, nature knows best.

The Almanac

Lia Leendertz

This almanac divides into monthly chapters, each giving details about the moon phases, weather, and what's growing.

​The easy to read approach means that even the most reluctant of readers can dip in and out, and find something to enjoy. Those who like to track the seasons will enjoy the notes for each period, and may draw their own conclusions on the changes they experience.

It's a perfect gift for someone keen to understand a little more about nature.

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