Linescapes by Hugh Warwick review – a manifesto for reuniting with nature

A good-humoured, hedgehog’s-eye view of the country’s ditches, dykes and railways

There is a venerable tradition of literature about the lines humans have created in the British landscape. Alfred Watkins’s The Old Straight Track, Francis Hitching’s Earth Magic, Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways and a plethora of natural histories and hedgerow-seeking illuminations – recently John Wright’s The Natural History of the Hedgerow. All are fascinated with fragmentation and connection, and infused with the joys and conundrums we layer on our land with our human footfall. In Linescapes, Hugh Warwick provides a good-humoured, even visionary, perspective on the fragile ecology of our hedges, roads, power lines and railways. Often opting for the hedgehog’s-eye view (his first book, A Prickly Affair, declared his passion for this important indicator species), he reveals how the man-made lines in our landscape present a paradox. They were originally put there to fragment, assert ...