The Unofficial Countryside, Paperback Book

The Unofficial Countryside Paperback

Illustrated by Mary Newcomb

Part of the Nature Classics Library series

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


During the early 1970s Richard Mabey set about mapping his unofficial countryside.

He walked crumbling city docks and overgrown bomb sites, navigating inner city canals and car parks, exploring sewage works, gravel pits, rubbish tips.

What he discovered runs deeper than a natural history of our suburbs and cities.

The Unofficial Countryside prescribes another way of seeing, another way of experiencing nature in our daily lives.

Wild flowers glimpsed from a commuter train. A kestrel hawking above a public park. Enchanter's nightshade growing through pavement cracks.

Fox cubs playing on a motorway's scrubby fringe. There is a scarcely a nook in our urban landscape incapable of supporting life.

It is an inspiration to find this abundance, to discover how plants, birds, mammals and insects flourish against the odds in the most obscure and surprising places.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 184 pages, 8 b/w drawings
  • Publisher: Little Toller Books
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Conservation of the environment
  • ISBN: 9780956254559



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As someone who's spent the last 13 years of Sundays walking the green or semi-green areas within reach of London, this book was always going to appeal to me. I'm not a great reader of nature-writing, but Mabey had me enthralled with his descriptions of plants and birdlife to be found in or near gravel pits, landfill sites and other features of our suburban landscape. He does not specifically name all of the areas he describes, yet they are familar to me, although the intervening 40 years of housing and road development means that I cannot possibly have seen the same places as him. A fascinating read, over far too quickly.

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