I came across Roger Deakin a month after his death in an article that celebrated his life.

The two books I've just read - Waterlog: A Swimmer's Journey Through Britain and Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees - are travel stories (topographical writing, says one obituary) that are ripe with cultural anecdotes and natural histories. They render rural Britain incredibly exotic.

Peter Mayle and the 'year in Provence' type writers bank on their first impressions of a place. Deakin is of it, and very often in it, as he swims, climbs, walks and speluncs his way through Britain, armed with little more than a towel and an infectious enthusiasm.

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