“The wind was rising, so I went to the wood. It lies south of the city, a mile from my home: a narrow, nameless fragment of beechwood, topping a shallow hill. I walked there, following streets to the city’s fringe, and then field-edge paths through hedgerows of hawthorn and hazel.
“Rooks haggled in the air above the trees. The sky was a bright cold blue, fading to milk at its edges. From a quarter of a mile away, I could hear the noise of the wood in the wind: a soft marine roar. It was the immense compound noise of friction – of leaf fretting on leaf, and branch rubbing on branch.
“[…] Anyone who lives in a city will know the feeling of having been there too long. The gorge-vision that streets imprint on us, the sense of blockage, the longing for surfaces other than glass, brick, concrete and tarmac. […] I felt a sharp need to leave Cambridge, to reach somewhere remote, where starlight fell clearly, where the wind could blow upon me from its thirty-six directions, and where the evidence of human presence was minimal or absent. Far north or far west; for to my mind this was where wildness survived, if it survived anywhere at all.
“[In 1990] the American author William Least-Heat Moon described Britain as ‘a tidy garden of a toy realm where there’s almost no real wilderness left and absolutely no memory of it. Where the woods are denatured plantings. The English, the Europeans, are too far from the wild. That’s the difference between them and us.'”
~ Robert Macfarlane, opening The Wild Places