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Rising Ground

A Search for the Spirit of Place

In 2010, Philip Marsden, whom Giles Foden has called “one of our most thoughtful travel writers,” moved with his family to a rundown farmhouse in the countryside in Cornwall. From the moment he arrived, Marsden found himself fascinated by the landscape around him, and, in particular, by the traces of human history—and of the human relationship to the land—that could be seen all around him. Wanting to experience the idea more fully, he set out to walk across Cornwall, to the evocatively named Land’s End.
Rising Ground is a record of that journey, but it is also so much more: a beautifully written meditation on place, nature, and human life that encompasses history, archaeology, geography, and the love of place that suffuses us when we finally find home. Firmly in a storied tradition of English nature writing that stretches from Gilbert White to Helen MacDonald, Rising Ground reveals the ways that places and peoples have interacted over time, from standing stones to footpaths, ancient habitations to modern highways. What does it mean to truly live in a place, and what does it take to understand, and honor, those who lived and died there long before we arrived?
Like the best travel and nature writing, Rising Ground is written with the pace of a contemplative walk, and is rich with insight and a powerful sense of the long skein of years that links us to our ancestors. Marsden’s close, loving look at the small patch of earth around him is sure to help you see your own place—and your own home—anew.

352 pages | 21 halftones | 5 3/4 x 8 1/2 | © 2016

Biological Sciences: Natural History

Literature and Literary Criticism: British and Irish Literature

Travel and Tourism: Tourism and History, Travel Writing and Guides


"Fascinating and hauntingly evocative. . . . A truly wonderful and enjoyable book."

Jan Morris | Literary Review


Robert MacFarlane | Guardian, Books of the Year


Tom Robbins | Financial Times, Books of the Year

"A fascinating study of place and its meaning."

Justin Cartwright | Observer, Book of the Year

"Pitch-perfect prose."

Tom Adair | Scotsman, Books of the Year

“Travel writer Marsden returns home to walk the length of the Cornwall region in the southwest corner of Great Britain…. Marsden is erudite and brings his knowledge of geology, etymology, history, and philosophy, as well as the voices of Cornwall’s past and current inhabitants, to his long peregrination. The writing is seamless and elegant.”

Publishers Weekly

"A thoughtful and well-written meditation on place and myth, and finding meaning in the places that we call home."

Chicago Tribune

Table of Contents


    PART I
1.    Mendip
2.    Ardevora
3.    Bodmin Moor
4.    Garrow Tor
5.    Rough Tor
6.    Tintagel
7.    Glastonbury

8.    Hensbarrow
9.    Fal
10.    Tregony
11.    Ruan Creek
12.    Tolverne
13.    Porthleven

14.    Morrab
15.    Madron
16.    Zennor
17.    Nanjizal
18.    Lethowsow
19.    Scilly

Illustration Credits

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