Simon Armitage in Kielder Forest

Pennine poet Simon Armitage passed through Kielder Forest, Europe’s biggest man-made forest, in his ‘Walking Home’, a dour and wonderful travelogue along the Pennine Way:

As well as providing an infinite supply of liquid refreshment for the region’s midge population, Kielder Water was built to service the heavy industries of England’s north-east coast, but by the time the reservoir was opened those industries had all but disappeared. Some claim that Kielder is not only a white elephant but an environmental calamity, the monoculture of Sitka spruce and its lookalikes signalling the end of biodiversity and effectively carpeting over what was once a rare and treasured moorland habitat. Those with vested interests argue otherwise, that the forest provides sanctuary for endangered wildlife such as red squirrel and raptors, that it offers endless recreational facilities, and that the reservoir, in a warmer world with an uncertain meteorological future, is a well that never runs dry.

Monoculture possibly, monotonous without doubt. In fact it’s plain old boring, slogging along the gravel access road with a drawn curtain of trees on either side. Review in The Guardian of Walking Home.