Richard Carter’s fascinating exploration of his local grouse-moor in West Yorkshire digs deep into natural history, human history, prehistory, and the history of science. His writing is grounded, insightful, and frequently hilarious, and he shows how falling in love with your own local patch can be a gateway to the whole world.
—Neil Ansell, author and journalist
If not exactly old fashioned there is something in the title of Richard Carter’s wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining book that speaks to an older tradition in writing about nature. For me his work is distinctly reminiscent of the essay collections of Ronald Blythe or Richard Mabey, who are not just standard bearers for this field in the last half century, they are also authors supremely adept in the essay form. Carter has something of their fearless and inventive approach, drawing into his ever-flexible field of view an entire spectrum of subjects, and not just, as he claims in his subtitle science, history and nature, but also literature, autobiography, linguistics, lore and local story. At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.
—Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
There’s much to enjoy in Richard Carter’s pean to the frugal yet visceral delights of being one with England’s Pennine moorland. If this were all there were to the book it would have made a good nature read, but Carter cleverly weaves in science at every opportunity, whether it’s inspired by direct observations of birds and animals and plants […] or spinning off from a trig point onto the geometric methods of surveying through history all the way up to GPS. […] All in all, this is probably best described as a great ramble on the moor with an expert guide. Rambling definitely comes into it, as we skip from season to season, or switch attention from the miniature botanical landscape […] established in the top of an old fence post, to Carter’s vacuum flask of tea (with some thoughts on Dewar and his development of it) to John Tyndall, explaining why the sky is blue. It’s a wuthering wonder.
—Brian Clegg, popular science author and communicator, Popular Science Books
…wonderful. Science and history and geography and evolution and culture all tangled up in musings while walking about the moors around Hebden Bridge.
—PZ Myers, biologist and blogger, Pharyngula
…by turns provocative, humorous, entertaining, fascinating and informative but never dull […]. If, when reading, you like to be enlightened and educated in an enjoyable and entertaining manner then buy Richard’s book; I promise you won’t regret it.
—Thony Christie, historian of science, Renaissance Mathematicus
There’s barely a page without a surprising fact…whether it’s about a vacuum flask, a hawk or a bilberry. […] Begin the book as you would a moorland walk, happy to put the route map away and just follow where the sheep trods take you—then you’ll likely find the surprising turns and unexpected views a suitable reward.
—Nick Small, Caught by the River
This is a lovely book. I really enjoyed it—partly, I suspect, because I have a similar sense of humour to that of the author and also because I am generally curious about life. [...] The author is good at explanations. I like that. Eclectic—that’s what this book is. And rambling—in a good way (after all, these are walks). I liked it. I hope Richard Carter is writing another volume of his thoughts. I’ll buy it.
—Mark Avery, author and former director of conservation at the RSPB, Sunday Book Review