The global spread of the coronavirus is disrupting travel. Stay up to date on the science behind the outbreak>>

Bookshelf: Rain

We love to moan about it, but we'd be lost without it. So argues this lyrical tome, which examines how rain has shaped our landscape, language and national psyche.

Published 28 Mar 2016, 09:00 BST, Updated 7 Jul 2021, 12:09 BST
Rain: Four walks in English weather.

Without rain, the English national stereotype would suggest, we'd have nothing to grumble about. It permeates our sense of identity; it is, according to the author of this wonderfully lyrical book, Melissa Harrison, 'co-author of our living countryside; it is also part of our deep internal landscape'.

We need it to survive, she argues, and yet we spend most of our time trying to avoid it, and cursing its many names (no fewer than 100 are defined in this book). Harrison explores our relationship with wet weather, taking four walks across different English landscapes in different seasons: Wicken Fen in winter, Shropshire in a budding spring, the Darent Valley in soggy summer and Dartmoor in autumn.

Shortlisted for the 2015 Costa Novel Award for At Hawthorn Time, Harrison — who writes a monthly nature column in The Times — doesn't offer up this book as a weighty botanical tome. It is instead a nature lover's glimpse into hedgerow and lane, hilltop and woodland, blending meteorological-minded poetry, entomology and old folk idioms with pin-sharp observations about everything from berries to bird song. The result is as delightful and comforting as the sound of rain on a roof.

Rain: Four Walks in English Weather, by Melissa Harrison, is published by Faber & Faber in association with the National Trust. RRP: £12.99

Follow @NatGeoTraveller

Published in the April 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Read More

You might also like

Six alternatives to the Cotswolds to explore this summer
Chef Elizabeth Haigh explores Singapore's eclectic cuisine
Six of the best spots for rock climbing and bouldering in the south of England
What to do in Frome, Somerset's most exciting market town
What to do in Coventry, the UK's City of Culture 2021

Explore Nat Geo

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • History & Culture
  • Science
  • Travel
  • Photography
  • Space
  • Adventure
  • Video

About us


  • Magazines
  • Newsletter
  • Disney+

Follow us

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society. Copyright © 2015-2016 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved