Nature writing

Roger Deakin – at ease in the countryside as a poacher with deep pockets

Few authors have left such an immediate legacy as Roger Deakin. When he died of a sudden illness in 2007, aged 63, he had written just two books: Waterlog, which set off the wild swimming craze, and the even more influential Wildwood, which helped kickstart the publishing phenomenon of nature writing. Yet both books only really became well known after his death. During his lifetime he was, at best, a cult taste. When I approached the BBC 20 years ago with the idea that he should present a televisual version of Waterlog in which he swam ‘across’ England, through its ponds, lakes and rivers, I was told no one was

England in infra-red: the beauty of the country at night

John Lewis-Stempel is nearly as prolific as the natural world about which he writes so well. His voice is distinctive – that of a traditional agriculturist of lyrical articulacy, an observant ecologist who finds mythopoeic magic in everyday animals, who honours his Herefordshire origins but addresses all England. Cattle in a frosty field are transfigured into witnesses of the Nativity As with his monographs on meadows and ponds, Nightwalking looks at under-appreciated aspects of the rural scene – this time, the most enigmatic of all. Like Robert Frost, poets often aspire to be ‘acquainted with the night’, and many are cited here. But even lifelong country dwellers scarcely know the