Andrew Bibby


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The Backbone of England

Landscape and Life on the Pennine Watershed

Feb 26th 2011: Andrew Bibby in conversation with interviewer John McCarthy about Backbone of England on BBC Radio 4's Excess Baggage programme. Listen again facility currently available (interview begins at timing 20.29)

"This superb new book... Highly recommended" (TGO magazine)

Revised and updated paperback edition, Spring 2011

In The Backbone of England , Andrew Bibby walks the route of the Pennine watershed separating the water flowing westwards to the Irish Sea and the Atlantic from the water heading towards the North Sea. Keeping always above the headwaters (the golden rule in following a watershed is never cross running water) he travels from Edale and Kinder Scout in Derbyshire as far as Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland.

The Backbone of England is partly a travel book, partly a celebration of a fine stretch of countryside but primarily a journey to discover more about the landscape in this part of England . Andrew Bibby offers a range of keys which aim to open up an understanding of the social and economic factors which make the Pennine landscape as it is, exploring what has happened in the past and, particularly, what is going on up in these hills today.

"In this wonderful book Andrew Bibby... not only helps us to savour the Pennine landscape;  he helps us to understand it, and he urges us to cherish it.  He shows us how this land was formed, what has happened and is happening to it, and – in a thoroughly un-preachy kind of way – why it matters.  This is a book of enjoyment and of revelation." - Chris Smith (Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury)


"As well as a celebration of this exceptional area of countryside, this quietly moving and impressive book examines all aspects of the area's history, including wildlife, ecology, geology and culture. A serious and thorough study, it is particularly good on the problems facing the region, and makes a strong case for protecting the upland peat bogs. Anyone with an interest in this part of northen England should read this book." - Daily Telegraph (, 2 June 2008

"With an intriguing premise, which enabled the author to walk the length of the Pennines without getting his feet wet, this book sets out to follow Britain's watershed... Bibby is keen to point out how the activities of man here do impact on the area - and the world's climate. The carbon-setting properties of peat, the right to roam, and the politics of killing crows all come into it" - The Independent, 28 March 2008

"No-one who treads the moors after reading The Backbone of England will view their surroundings in the same way. Virtually every step of the peat-stained boot will be enriched by a historical, environmental and cultural understanding of which many will have previously been ignorant." - Grough, March 2008

"Andrew Bibby's enjoyable style and broad knowledge left me with many new insights into some of our most treasured landscapes". Walk magazine, Spring 2008

"Bibby shows a rare understanding of the different Pennine landscapes and their inspirational lure" - Yorkshire Post, April 12 2008

"An epic journey along the backbone of England" - Sheffield Telegraph, March 27 2008

"A book of exceptional detail on the landscape and its people." - Country Walking, May 2008

"This superb new book... Bibby's skilful telling of the every aspect of the Pennines and the simple enjoyment of the journey make this the most entertainingly informative outdoor book... Highly recommended." - TGO, May 2008

"Beautifully and sensitively written... highly readable and gives a true insight into this special area" - Open Space, Summer 2008

"A fascinating and worthwhile book which takes an unusual approach to interpreting the very special landscapes of the Pennines" - Yorkshire Dales Review, Summer 2008

"A superby researched and beautifully illustrated book" - Manchester Evening News

"It's the wildest land in England, with breathtaking views and a marked absence of man-made noise. Helped by splendid pictures by John Morrison, Andrew Bibby captures its stirring magnificence and its surprisingly diverse sources of interest" - Northern Echo

"A fascinating journey, packed with geographic, environmental and historical information" - Brighton Argus

"I thought I knew my bit of the Pennines fairly well, but this book has whetted my appetite to get up more regularly among the fells and hills" - Garstang Courier


These extracts (PDF format) will give you a taste of the book.

Contents, Preface and Chapter 1 (Kinder Scout)

Chapter 25: The Peat Beneath Our Feet

First edition published in hardback March 2008, by Frances Lincoln Ltd.

Revised and updated edition published in paperback March 2011. BUY ON-LINE.

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