The British Landscape: Satnav's limited range

Britain’s diverse landscape reveals much about the people who live in it, whether it is ‘Constable Country’ or Hounslow. We should all take a closer look, says Francis Pryor.

As an archaeologist and farmer who has finished lambing after the coldest winter I can recall, I have been in close contact with my surroundings – often having to wash them off my wellies before coming indoors. For me the landscape isn’t something to be admired or appreciated during self-indulgent sessions of ‘me time’. It’s a part of my being. I can’t escape it and I don’t particularly want to, either. I’ve been abroad, I even lived in Canada for nine years, but it’s the extraordinarily varied landscape of Britain that never fails to fire my enthusiasm. I suppose, if one wants to intellectualise one’s life, landscape does provide some kind of ‘sense of place’, but as emotions or feelings go, that one has always struck me as inadequate. A sense of place is about as useful to me as a sip of whisky when I need a dram. Like many other people who live and work outside, the landscape I inhabit is an integral part of my identity. It is me. It is not ‘a sense’, or something to be sniffed at arm’s length, like a rare jasmine tea.

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