If you would like to tour England but personal circumstances means you are unable, these books can take you exploring instead. So sit back in your favourite armchair (or find a nice shady sit spot in the garden), make some homemade lemonade (or grab a cuppa) and learn about the country you live in. As always, support your local indie bookstore (if you don’t have one, all these books link to Blackwell’s, a fab indie bookstore).
- The January Man is the story of a year of walks, inspired by a song. Christopher Somerville walks the British Isles: every month, season and region. From winter floodlands of the River Severn to lambs of Nidderdale, from towering seabird cliffs on the Scottish Shetland Isles to the oaks of Sherwood Forest in Autumn. He describes the history, wildlife, landscapes and people, lanes & old paths.
- Notes from a Small Island is by American writer Bill Bryson, who returned to the US from Yorkshire for a few years, travelling around England beforehand. He loves a country that produces place names like Farleigh Wallop and Shellow Bowells, and say ‘ooh lovely’ at the sight of a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits. The Road to Little Dribbling catches up 20 years on, following the ‘Bryson Line’ from Bognor Regis.
- One Man and His Bike is the story of Mike Carter, who cycled to the office, and kept on going, embarking on a 5000 mile journey around the entire British coast. He encountered drunken priests, drag queens and gnome sanctuaries, and found a spirit of kindness and generosity to convince him that Britain was anything but broken.
- Take the Slow Road: England and Wales is the tale of how one man put his foot down, and travelled (slowly) around the country, stopping to take a picture – and to enjoy stopping. Find the best drives for surfers, wildlife watchers, climbers and walkers, along with bendy roads, bridges, ferries & tidal causeways (don’t get stuck).
- Around the Coast in 80 Days takes you to seaside spots from Liverpool up to Scotland, down the east coast, across the shores in the south, up through Wales and back to the northwest of England. Calling in at Blackpool, Brighton and Newquay.
- Wonderland takes you around Britain, to meet blackbirds, beavers and beetles, to tawny owls, natterjack toads and lemon slugs. From encounters with curious black redstarts (which winter on our rocky coasts) to tiny green snowdrop shoots. Where days start with hawker dragonflies, drowsy bumblebees & deer in Richmond Park in the autumn mist: and end with glow-worms.
- Footnotes: A Journey Around Britain follows Peter Fiennes (in the footsteps of 12 inspirational writers) to walk our country, peering through the lens of the past. The journey starts in Enid Blyton’s childhood home of Dorset, and ends on the train that took Charles Dickens to his final resting place in Westminster Abbey.