Exploring Welsh nature

By | Category: Travel rumblings
book cover of Wild Places book

the cover of the new book by Iolo Williams

Come Boxing Day and a lot of people fancy a longish walk to recover from the excesses of the food and drink that they have put away. Following some of the walks suggested by the Welsh naturalist, Iolo Williams, in his seventh book, Wild Places Wales’ Top 40 Nature Sites may provide some impetus to walk off some of the newly-acquired calories. For that reason alone this book makes a good stocking-filler!

This is a guide book or so Williams would claim. He writes, “If anyone has a pristine copy five years after it has been bought, then it has not served its purpose.”

Lots of walking guides give a little hand-drawn map of the planned walk. There are none here. Lots of photographic books have few words to explain the images. Here there are more words than pictures. Coffee-table books with images of this quality and number cost a great deal more.

Despite what Williams says, this is more than a guide book because the photographs are worth looking at time-and time again. The double page spread of Bardsey from the mainland, the astonishing pinkness of the cliffs on Skokholm or he tangled, dead tree at Dinefwr House reveal a more than competent photographer. And a coffee table book that I would leave around for visitors to look at. I would feel quite ashamed of myself if my copy was so stained after five years that I couldn’t look and enjoy it again.

But as a guide to forty “nature sites”  – why just forty – he melds some very familiar places like Ynys Hir which was the home for three series of the BBC’s Springwatch programme to the Newport Wetlands which, in my youth didn’t exist the area being seen as just mud flats!

Williams gives a brief guide on how to reach the forty he has selected and gives a competent description of each that shows he must have visited every one. There are places to go in different seasons and even in different months.

It’s just possible that Williams was right after all, my copy is looking a little dog-eared already and that is just from armchair thumbing! My copy might not last five years after all.

Wild Places Wales’ Top 40 Nature Sites by Iolo Williams was published last month by Seren Books, price £19.99

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