Landmarks, by Robert Macfarlane, 2017

Sunday 8 March 2015 05.00 EDT Last modified on Saturday 2 December 2017 10.12 EST

“When we try to pluck out anything by itself, we find it hitched to the whole world,” wrote the great Scottish naturalist John Muir – a perfect description of Robert Macfarlane’s new book. For how on Earth might one ever describe Landmarks without bringing in the whole gorgeous history of the literature from which it emanates?

This, precisely, is Macfarlane’s point. “This is a book about the power of language,” he writes on page one. “It is a field guide to literature I love, and it is a word hoard of the astonishing lexis for landscape that exists in the comparison of islands, rivers, strands, fells, lochs, cities, towns, corries, hedgerows, fields and edgelands uneasily known as the British Isles.”