Return to My Trees is my new book, published by Calon Books, part of the University of Wales Press. It is inspired by a walking adventure through Wales exploring how we lost our connection to nature and how we go about rebuilding it.
Back in the spring of 2020, when all of the UK was in lockdown, I read about the newly proposed National Forest for Wales. I thought it would be a fun idea to map a walking route that people could follow, enjoy and learn to appreciate nature and the forests.
I walked for more than 300 miles. In South Wales I learned about the ancient Druids and their connection to the forests. I discovered how the Romans feared the Druids and burned down their oak woods. I saw firsthand how the iron and coal industry made a few people rich but robbed entire communities of their connection to nature.
In Mid-Wales I walked through the woodlands of legend and folklore – where the princes of the Mabinogi dwelt, where the faeries of the underworld played and where folk heroes like Twm Sion Cati hid out.
I also followed in the footsteps of some of the greatest writers and artists – including JMW Turner, William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge – who walked through Wales looking for that same connection to nature.
And in North Wales I began to discover just what and how we need to change if we are to truly make peace with and restore balance with nature.