Guild member Jini Reddy’s new book describes accessible experiences close to nature. She says you could call her new book a guide to “green travel with soul”……..
Over a decade (and some), as a travel writer, I’d frequently find myself in natural, quite wild landscapes. My experiences and encounters with those I met along the way, particularly people from indigenous cultures or other locals who live in low-impact ways rooted in nature, felt transformative, as did the more immersive journeys I went on. Somewhere along the way, I went from being an enthusiastic observer and admirer of the landscapes I was travelling through to a realisation that I’m already a part of the community of species or what we call ‘nature’.
It might sound a bit hippie-ish – and I’m happy to be described thus – but all of this inspired greater feelings of empathy and kinship for the natural world and a broader perception of what that encompasses, how we might engage with it, and the benefits of doing so. Many people are suffering from nature deficit disorder and the planet’s facing serious ecological challenges. I often find it hard to connect with all the facts and figures thrown at me about climate change and environmental crises but an immersive experiences in nature can inspire affection for the living world and who wants to harm what they’re fond of?
Alongside traditional pursuits like wildlife watching or energetic adventures in the wild, connecting with nature is also about offering more creative, reflective or interactive responses to the landscape. Turning my attention to Britain, I sought ways to do this, experiences that I and others who aren’t wildlife experts, naturalists or adrenaline seeking junkies could relate to. Over a period of five months I travelled to places in England, Scotland and Wales researching them. Many – to quote naturalist Stephen Moss – are in the more ‘quirky and imaginative’ vein.
Wild Times is the result. It features 26 of those experiences. You could call it ‘green travel with soul’. It’s a part narrative, part ‘how to do it, who to do it with, where to stay’ guidebook, with suggestions for alternative experiences on a similar theme and handy tips to bring a bit of the magic home.
Rewilding the Caledonian Forest, natural navigation in Sussex, exploring the coastal paint palette in Yorkshire, escaping to an eco-island in the Hebrides, kayaking for wild sea foods in Cornwall, a mindful hike in Anglesey, a full moon meander in Suffolk, a bumblebee safari in Somerset, a slow paddle in search of otters in Norfolk, horse whispering in Devon, a barefoot walk in the Brecon Beacons (with the only woman to have run barefoot across Wales), wild medicine in the Cotswolds – these are just some of the experiences contained in the book. Of course planned adventures go hand in hand with more spontaneous wanderings in the wild – there is a place for both. Above all Wild Times is for anyone seeking more diverse ways to express their love for the natural world and Britain.
And me? More than anything, researching the book has amplified my reliance on nature as a source of both solace and wonder. It has also instilled a greater admiration for the passionate, dedicated women and men beavering away among our moors, coasts, hedgerows, woods, highlands, lowlands and cities who are just itching to share their wild wise ways with us all. They may fly under the radar – though a few are well known – but all are special and often pioneering people.
Wild Times, published by Bradt (£14.99) is out on the October 1. Jini can be found tweeting @Jini_Reddy, and her website is www.jinireddy.co.uk