What I’ve been reading this week, 18 July 2020

Reindeer versus mining corporations, free camping versus wild camping, and how to be a freelance introvert.

Environment and nature

Farmers hatch plan to return area the size of Dorset to wild nature – this feels like the future.

Nature-led coronavirus recovery could create $10tn a year, says WEF – the only way we are going to prevent the collapse of natural systems is by convincing human beings that it’s in their economic interest to be bothered. I find this idea frightening. ‘There will be no jobs or prosperity on a dead planet’ is a phrase made all the more terrifying because it needs to be said.

Tim Melling – That Lammergeier – a bearded vulture is hanging out in the Peak District at the moment. Mark Avery: ‘I’d prefer to see this as a symbol of rewilding – or indeed self-wilding. It’s amazing how quickly nature can return to the most unlikely areas if given the chance.’

Miners hunting for metals to battery cars threaten Sámi reindeer herders’ homeland – this is a fascinating piece about resource tensions and conflicts between incompatible forms of land use in the Arctic.

Diary 5: The last entry & a letter from Simon Buckley – the last Winter Hill Diary is sublime. ‘Interesting, the terms we use to describe our reactions to place, particularly the places often beyond our everyday surroundings; breath-taking, awe-striking, stunning. All of these words suggest an overwhelm, a physical wrench through the senses, an obliteration.’


Free camping vs. wild camping – a subject of much online discussion this week has been whether or not the outdoor community should distance itself from the term ‘wild camping’ in light of the recent increase in problem camping behaviour. This is a sensible piece from Abacus Mountain Guides (although it is Scotland-centric, and the situation is very different south of the border).

Sabrina Verjee becomes first woman to complete continuous Wainwrights round – a stunning achievement.

How a new people-powered hiking network could transform travel in the UK – interesting idea, and of course it’s an old one, because this is once how almost everyone once travelled. I like it in principle – slowing down and travelling more intentionally, noticing more, is good for the soul, but it’s also a form of resistance against the all-consuming monster of economic imperative, and for that reason sadly I don’t expect it to make much of a dent on mainstream life. To have the margin to be able to resist is a valuable privilege.

In The Beginning: First Long-Distance Walk & First Cairngorms Backpacking Trip – great photos and wide-eyed enthusiasm from a much younger Chris Townsend here.

The Black Range of New Mexico – a great blog post from Inaki about another section of his Continental Divide Trail hike.

Books, writing and editing

How to be a freelance introvert – I can identify with much here. ‘I saw that it’s difficult to market yourself and set prices when you’re naturally retiring or diffident. Building a network when you prefer solitude is hard work. And when you have a strong tendency to sit and reflect on problems alone, you sometimes struggle to resolve issues that would really benefit from outside input.’


We’re stuck in a lockdown work from home purgatory – while many people thrive in this kind of work, others struggle.

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By Alex Roddie

Award-winning outdoor and nature writer, editor, author, and photographer.

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