Hardy and ‘AW’…

Countryfile Magazine - - Editor’s Letter -

Two men who were bril­liant at con­vey­ing the power of the English land­scape dom­i­nate this is­sue. But Al­fred Wain­wright (known as ‘AW’) and Thomas Hardy couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent. Hardy used land­scape as

an ex­tra – of­ten for­bid­ding – char­ac­ter in his books. In his hands, the coombes, downs and heaths of Wes­sex are places of both jeop­ardy and joy and are just as in­flu­en­tial as his hu­man char­ac­ters in driv­ing the plot, as our own Maria Hod­son found while ex­plor­ing the key sites that in­spired his most ro­man­tic novel, Far From

the Madding Crowd. Read her guide to Hardy coun­try on page 64. Wain­wright could be said to be the op­po­site of Hardy – he was drawn to the wild and rugged and his books are a de­light­ful in­vi­ta­tion to walk with him through coun­try that in Hardy’s time might be dis­missed as waste­land. How things change. Ap­pro­pri­ately, we sent the win­ner of the in­au­gu­ral Wain­wright prize for travel and na­ture writ­ing Hugh Thom­son to ex­plore Wain­wright’s heart­land – the Lake Dis­trict’s West­ern Fells that cap­ti­vated the great man be­yond all else. Walk with Hugh in AW’s foot­steps on page 18.

As sum­mer ar­rives, it’s frus­trat­ing to be chained to a desk on a warm June day with all that coun­try­side cry­ing out to be ex­plored. So we’ve gath­ered some heart­en­ing ideas for en­joy­ing evenings out­doors af­ter work. From spot­ting glow worms (p50) to lis­ten­ing to night­jars (p71 on­wards), let’s make the most of the long days and go roam­ing in the gloam­ing this month!

Fer­gus Collins, edi­tor@coun­try­file.com

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