“Curlews give their liquid, burbling call, a call of pure happiness, the music of the fells.”Â Ella Pontefract, 1936, Wensleydale
The North of England abounds with beauty, from unspoiled beaches in Northumberland to the dramatic Lakeland Fells, for soÂ long celebrated by writers and artists. Wide estuaries, winding rivers, sheer cliffs, rushing waterfalls, ancient woodland, limestone pavements, and miles of hedgerows and drystone walls sustainably built and rebuilt over centuries – all form part of its rich heritage.
But these are, too, contested and depleted landscapes. Today the curlew’s call is isolated, and many other species are in decline. Industry, urban sprawl and climate chaos threaten our environment on a previously unimagined scale. And while stereotypes persist – of dark satanic mills or “bleak” moorland – the imperative of conservation is all too often overlooked for short-term economic interests.
This essential volume reminds us how and why Northern people have risen to the challenge of defending their open spaces, demanding action on pollution and habitat loss. Contemporary writers including Sarah Hall, Lee Schofield, Benjamin Myers and Lemn Sissay take their place alongsideÂ those who wrote in previous centuries. Together, the voices in this one-of-a-kind anthology testify that North Country is a place apart.
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