Caught by the River

Behind The Scenes Of The Scenery

7th December 2009


The countryside of Britain can be rather a quiet place at times – which is just how most of us on CBTR like it, an oasis of calm perfectly suited to meditating on the ripples that radiate from a float bobbing on the river.

We might like it that way, but sometimes our countryside seems quiet not only in comparison to our cities, which is a good thing, but also the rest of the world which, arguably if you’re a fan of drama, the sublime and spectacle, it’s not. Britain’s climate, for example, is by and large (despite the amount of time we spend talking about it) fair to middling. Our trees do not hang with luxury fruit and even our wildlife doesn’t seem to be terribly wild – our native mammals, in particular, have all the savage menace of a Koala in a 14 tog duvet. While we can’t go along with the common claim that our mountains and rivers lack scale – Ben Nevis and Snowdon are minor peaks and the River Severn is a mere trickle compared to the various Niles, Amazons and Yangtzes around the planet, all in all, the recieved wisdom is that Britain is no more than a foothill to the world.

As it turns out, it wasn’t always this way and Britain has a turbulent prehistory to thank for our inordinately complicated landscape – a festival of buxom hummocks, of discordant coastlines, landslips and patchwork fields that readers of CBTR will recognise on their trips to and from the river.

From next year, the spectacle of our scenery will be championed by the British Landscape Club, a new organisation for the quiet contemplation and unravelling of the country’s topography. They aim to attract members (for a nominal subscription which gets you a badge and a window sticker) to share your favourite views and use the Club’s web site to post photos and videos, see parts of the country you may not have visited and generally expand on your fascination with the British countryside. There will be articles, ruminations and a special section devoted to photographs of the picturesque taken from moving vehicles.

The web site is in testing at the moment, but author and club secretary Ian Vince – one half of the electrically-propelled team that brought us last year’s Three Men in a Float – has put up galleries and videos as opening shots and will be adding a lot more to the site over the next two weeks, ready for a proper launch on January 1st 2010. He is also promising the first dozen or two readers of CBTR who join the club in January free membership.