Beautifully charts the challenges and solaces of being alone and part of nature
[A] captivating memoir...vivid as photographs, yet sketched with something more profound than simple reportage. Beneath the measured, knowledgeable, unfussy voice is a meaningful, and even important record: not just of a changing landscape, but of a man such places have shaped.
Ansell has the rare skill of combining vividly the intimacy of detail and the astonishing grandeur of this North West coastline of Scotland. Through his keen eyes we look again at the familiar with a sense of wondrous revelation
His anecdotes gleam
Ansell's beautiful memoir of his walks through the Scottish wilderness makes the case for being truly a part of nature rather than outside of it
Neil Ansell is a genuine creature of the wild. His knowledge of remote places, and his love for them, come from deep and sustained immersion. He writes in prose which is entirely right for its subject - unshowy, level-headed, quietly surprising. The Last Wilderness is a wonderful experience which tingles with all the sensations of being out on the hill, in all weathers, alone
Like taking a refreshing and eye-opening walk in the open air with the most interesting, observant and companionable of guides. In The Circling Sky Neil Ansell reveals the remarkableness of the relatively unexotic New Forest, moving deftly from personal reflection to beautiful nature writing, to a crucial, timely argument about the history and importance of common land.
The Circling Sky reads like a vivid and subtle nature programme for your mind's eye. Its New Forest setting is a world within a world; a fragile Eden with an utterly astonishing cast of birds; a unique harbour to an array of species both familiar and unexpected, and a complex, sometimes dark human history. At times it felt like Danny the Champion of the World had grown up, lived an intriguing life, and was now communicating his subtle life philosophy as he walked among the trees. I finished this book sharing its author's desire to look closer, to "walk in peace", and - as he puts it - to "camp without camping", and simply fall sleep beneath a tree.
Neil Ansell takes us on a thoughtful journey through the fabulous New Forest. He combines evocative description with an accurate naturalist's eye, in the best tradition of modern British nature writing.
Neil Ansell's series of walks in the New Forest through the course of a year coalesce into a skilful exploration of memory, childhood, and how certain landscapes can become an integral part of your life. Ansell is a gifted naturalist, sensitive, inquisitive, at times justly enraged, invariably joyful. The Circling Sky is a wonderful tribute to a unique and precious place
A beautiful evocation of life in a forest and a powerful reminder of the interconnected fate of all wild things, including ourselves
His articulate reminiscences and observations on history, wildlife and the changing landscape will make readers reflect on the world around us and our part - individually and collectively - in looking after it
Neil Ansell is a wonderful guide...this is a delight of nature writing
Neil Ansell is a writer of extraordinary sensitivity and insight
An immersive delving into the delights of the New Forest. Neil Ansell writes with such warmth and such wonder on the wild - with vital eyes and mind he senses the essence of the world around him, tucked down in the landscape to observe better the life of the natural world
'Top-class nature writing. The book is a poetic meditation as well as a forthright argument. Ansell is among my most-admired British nature writers'