Oak and Ash and Thorn: The Ancient Woodlands and New Forests of Britain by Peter Fiennes

Oak and Ash and Thorn: The Ancient Woodlands and New Forests of Britain

When the government announced plans to sell off up to 150,000 hectares of English forests and woodland in 2010, it ignited an immediate and impassioned fight against the proposal. Even today, the British people continue to have a deep love for their woods, which have inspired countless myths, stories and poems throughout time. Peter Fiennes celebrates the beauty and myster...

Title:Oak and Ash and Thorn: The Ancient Woodlands and New Forests of Britain
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Edition Language:English

Oak and Ash and Thorn: The Ancient Woodlands and New Forests of Britain Reviews

  • Paul

    If we were asked to imagine what the UK would look like way back in the Bronze age, people tend to think that there would be a canopy of trees stretching from coast to mountain with gaps where people had felled trees to grow crops. It wasn’t like that though, but there was a significant amount of forests and copses that provided food, shelter, fuel and livelihoods. The love of woodlands is deeply ingrained within our psyche and have contributed to countless legends, myths and fairy tales that ha

    If we were asked to imagine what the UK would look like way back in the Bronze age, people tend to think that there would be a canopy of trees stretching from coast to mountain with gaps where people had felled trees to grow crops. It wasn’t like that though, but there was a significant amount of forests and copses that provided food, shelter, fuel and livelihoods. The love of woodlands is deeply ingrained within our psyche and have contributed to countless legends, myths and fairy tales that have permeated our culture too. In 2010 the government at the time thought it would be a good idea to sell off the Forestry Commission; they didn’t quite expect the reaction that they got from the public who were vehemently against the sale of the woodlands and the plan was shelved.

    In this quite delightful and whimsical book, Fiennes taps into that deep love that people have for their forests and local woodlands, mixing his own experiences as he visits ancient woodlands, including one quite dark and creepy moment in a woodland at dusk. He explores the reasons why that even though we have the lowest amount of forest cover of any European country, we have the greatest number of ancient trees, and how London is technically a forest. His ‘Short History of Britain’s Woods in 3508 Words’ is a quite spectacular piece of writing.

    His passion for our forests and copses is evident when you read this, but this is a practical book too. He has a great list of 30 achievable things on an action plan list we can do immediately with regards to planting trees and improving our woodlands. They are all simple things and they would make a significant difference to the quality of our natural environment. Definitely a book to read for those who have any interest in woodlands. We cannot rest on our laurels as ancient forests are always under threat from all manner of sources and the more that people are aware of their local woods and use them the better their chances of survival. Would also recommend reading this in conjunction with the excellent A Tale of Trees: The Battle to Save Britain's Ancient Woodland by Derek Niemann.

  • Susan Sherman

    I think I would have liked this book more if I lived in the UK. The history of trees through fact and literature. Interesting

  • Erin

    It took me a long time to finish this, and to be honest, if the book itself hadn't been so beautiful I probably never would have. I received an early review copy if this book, and tried to read it right away but kept stalling. The writing is good, but the pace is uneven and the tone wanders from detailed natural and historic summaries to personal narrative to indignant ecowarrior lecture, in a way that I found difficult to settle into. It is also possible this story would have been more engaging

    It took me a long time to finish this, and to be honest, if the book itself hadn't been so beautiful I probably never would have. I received an early review copy if this book, and tried to read it right away but kept stalling. The writing is good, but the pace is uneven and the tone wanders from detailed natural and historic summaries to personal narrative to indignant ecowarrior lecture, in a way that I found difficult to settle into. It is also possible this story would have been more engaging for a native Brit who could picture the trees under discussion, because half a dozen years of living in London did not equip me to be able to visualise native British trees in any detail, and this book absolutely thrives on detail.

  • Kelly Buchanan

    Excellent meandering, earnest loveliness.

  • Michael Dodsworth

    A whimsical ramble through the history of trees, punctuated by some serious concern about the damage we are doing to our planet by denuding our forests. I enjoyed Peter Fiennes's gentle rants and found myself agreeing with him on a whole range of subjects from hunting, conifer planting and development. How nice to read something by one who genuinely cares; the point is, will any of us take heed? A lovely book.

  • Lauren

    This is like taking a lovely ramble in the woods with an ecologically-minded John Oliver. It's sweet and funny, a little bit repetitive but also full of righteous anger. I learned a lot and even a walk in my neighborhood has me appreciating the trees in a different way. The folklore, song and poetry throughout is more than welcome. A beautiful book.

    Thanks to Library Thing and their early reviewers program.

  • Jeff Van Campen

    *Oak and Ash and Thorn* is written like a ramble in the woods. The best kind of ramble—one without a map where the goal is simply to see what you discover. Peter Fiennes is our guide on this ramble, and he points out fact after fact about the different types of trees. He does tend to ramble, often telling tangential tales. which are sometimes interesting and sometimes baffling.

    Unfortunately, we also discover that the woods are disappearing and have been some time. We discover flytipping and gree

    *Oak and Ash and Thorn* is written like a ramble in the woods. The best kind of ramble—one without a map where the goal is simply to see what you discover. Peter Fiennes is our guide on this ramble, and he points out fact after fact about the different types of trees. He does tend to ramble, often telling tangential tales. which are sometimes interesting and sometimes baffling.

    Unfortunately, we also discover that the woods are disappearing and have been some time. We discover flytipping and greed, mismanagement with the best of intentions and a separation from nature. He offers hope, though, and takes us into woods that have been recently planted, some that are slowly recovering

    Along the way, Fiennes considers some difficult topics that I find fascinating: the overlap between the city and the country, the similarity of the language used to describe immigrants and invasive species and the fact that many "natural" landscapes are in fact man-made.

    There are two standout sections of this book.

    One is a history of Britain's trees from 5,000BC to 2017, with every word corresponding to the passing of two years. The book was worth it just for those 3,508 words.

    The second standout section is Fiennes list of things that we can do to help change the loss of woodland in this country. While it ends on a macabre note, it provides a several useful points for anyone who has read the book (or simply looked around) and despaired of being able to change the way things are.

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