Breathe in and the clean air soothes your mind, sharpens it, and attunes you to the rhythms of nature. The healthy soils hum with life beneath your feet, and the old-growth forest glimmers in the distant light of morning. You’re out walking the hillsides of Alladale Wilderness Reserve, and you couldn’t be further from the modern world – isolated and remote, you’ve taken the time to indulge your passions, to break free from the humdrum of the everyday, and return to the wild.
As evening rolls round, you’ll feel replenished by the day’s activity. The powerful image of a golden eagle will long linger on the mind, the shapes of the ancient pine trees enlivening the spirit. But are there many finer moments in life than settling down with a book after a long day in nature; the sound of an open log-fire crackling in the corner, while you’re nestled on an eminently comfortable armchair? Perhaps you’ve a mug of freshly brewed camomile tea. It’s all in the details.
At Alladale, our library is bursting with books that will satisfy the curious mind, helping you to connect with nature, its healing benefits, and the path to its recovery. We’ve curated a short selection for nature lovers.
The Living Mountain - Nan Shepherd
The stony tops of Alladale are a deeply moving setting, offering hikers the rare chance to see both the East and West coastlines of the Highlands. With a soft easterly wind blowing, one might be stirred by the panoramic views, in the same way that Nan Shepherd was moved by the dizzying heights and starkness of the Cairngorms Mountains in her masterpiece, ‘The Living Mountain’. A timeless ode to the mystery of mountains.
Wilding - Isabella Tree
Isabella Tree wrote what has now become a celebrated classic of nature writing after transforming unprofitable farmland in West Sussex into a blossoming haven for wildlife. With her husband Charlie Burrell, they opted simply to take off the reins and cede control to natural processes. Knepp Estate is now flourishing with biodiversity, welcoming back the Purple Emperor Butterfly, the White Stork, countless rare invertebrates and plants. A book bursting with a poetic urgency for nature recovery.
Feral - George Monbiot
An eye opening classic, brilliantly exploring the need for ecological restoration in our nature-depleted country. The book charts the history of loss as George Monbiot sets out across an altered land. He finds glimmers of hope in what nature could be like in the UK, if only we approached the landscape with a renewed environmental ethic, creating the space for natural processes to rejuvenate our ecosystems. Political, incendiary, and buoyed by the power of restoration, George Monbiot has become a household name in environmental activism.
The Peregrine - J.A Baker
J.A Baker’s rapturous prose transports the reader to untamed wilderness. A single being – that most magisterial of birds, the peregrine falcon – captures Baker as the natural world brims and bristles around him. We follow his daily quests into nature across a single year, witnessing an earthbound mind slowly metamorphosing into the aerial domain. This stunning read has become a heralded masterpiece of nature writing, perhaps in a genre and league of its own.
The Serengeti Rules - Sean B. Carroll
How is nature regulated? How do ecosystems form and remain in balance? Moreover, how can they become destabilised by the selective hand of man, or the uncompromising sweep of industry? This enlightening read draws on case studies around the world to show how natural ecosystems are regulated in food webs known as ‘trophic cascades’, and how individual keystone species are central to the flow of energy. The Serengeti Rules epitomises a quote dear to Alladale’s heart: “when one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world”.
The Wild Places - Robert MacFarlane
“From the bottom of the hill, I could hear the noise of the trees with the wind; a marine roar that grew in volume as I approached. Looking up at the swaying wood, I remembered something that I had read: when you see a wood or a forest, you must imagine the ground almost as a mirror line, because a tree’s subterranean root system can spread nearly as widely as its aerial crown. For the visible canopy of each tree you have to imagine an inverted hidden one, yearning for water just as its twin yearns for light.” – This book stuns the mind into a greater appreciation of nature’s capacity for resolve and harshness, for brutality and benevolence. It is a read that will urge you to get out there and see for yourself the wildness that awaits.