The best books about nature in Britain

The Books I Picked & Why

Otter Country: In Search of the Wild Otter

By Miriam Darlington

Otter Country: In Search of the Wild Otter

Why this book?

Miriam Darlington is my favourite author and Otter Country is one of the most thumbed, tatty-cornered, precious books that I own. I love it: for its voice, its humour and its beautiful prose. Darlington takes you on a gentle meander through the world of the otter in the most relatable of writing styles. She doesn’t start out as an otter expert; she learns as she goes, and so do you. Everything about this book is wonderful, and I would say the same about her other book, Owl Sense, which I have only left off this list because I wanted to cover five different authors!


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Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals

By Patrick Barkham

Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals

Why this book?

This book is a classic natural history quest: Patrick Barkham tries to find all the butterfly species in Britain and Ireland in one summer. It explores our age-old relationship with these fantastic insects, the eccentricities of the butterfly watcher's world, and the author’s adventures along the way, all tied together by the challenge he’s set himself. This is a really entertaining book and brilliantly captures the butterfly obsession, offering an excellent portrayal of what makes butterfly watchers tick.


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The Peregrine

By J. A. Baker

The Peregrine

Why this book?

The Peregrine is magnificent and widely considered a classic of British nature writing. For me, I love its simplicity: you sit and watch with Baker, observing one of Britain’s most iconic birds through the seasons. The writing is incredibly therapeutic; it delivers you into the moment and keeps you there. Baker’s observations are as shrewd as the bird he writes about. You can read it all at once or dip in and out of it. It’s a book to be kept by the bedside and returned to again and again.


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Wilding: Returning Nature to Our Farm

By Isabella Tree

Wilding: Returning Nature to Our Farm

Why this book?

Wilding is a real landmark in our move towards living side by side with nature, and a fantastic example of what can happen if we simply let nature take its course, with minimal human intervention. This book tracks the success story of one of the largest rewilding projects in Europe: in a matter of years, this Sussex estate is transformed from intensively farmed agricultural land into a wild landscape home to turtle doves, nightingales, and purple emperor butterflies. In a world where it is all too often difficult to feel hopeful about the future of our planet, Wilding is a timely reminder that we can bring back what we’ve lost if we simply give it the chance.


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Thinking on My Feet: The Small Joy of Putting One Foot in Front of Another

By Kate Humble

Thinking on My Feet: The Small Joy of Putting One Foot in Front of Another

Why this book?

This is a book for people who like to come home to a steaming mug of tea after a long walk in the countryside – rain or shine. Kate Humble takes us with her on her walks through the year, both at home and abroad. Her descriptions of the Wye Valley make you want to put on your wellies and walk out the door, dogs in tow, ready to splash through puddles, hop styles, and walk beneath the trees and the clouds. It is a lovely reminder that it is so often the little things in life that can bring us the most happiness: muddy walks in the woods, chatting to friends over a pot of coffee, watching the sky change as the sun rises. I love this book so much: it’s a lesson in the benefits of learning to live in the moment and to not take the simple things in life for granted.


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