The Living Landscape:How to Read and Understand It By Patrick Whitefield
This is a fascinating book, which pretty much does what it says on the jacket. Patrick Whitefield is a man who knows his own territory intimately and understands the changes that have made it what it is today. In this book he looks at all sorts of landscape, mostly, but not exclusively, rural, and deals with everything from geology to land use and wildlife. It is easy to read, but very densely packed with information, maps, diagrams and colour photographs. It is published by Permanent Publications in conjunction with The Permaculture Association (Britain).
I read this last summer excited to discover how much it is possible to learn from observing the trees and plants and climate of a place, and this year I am reading it again, more slowly, and using it as a focus for my territory walks. By this time next year I hope I will have built up a good picture of the area I live in.
A landscape shaped by the flows and falls and resting places of water, my territory is the flat land along the valley of the Forth.
It is surrounded by the Trossachs (highest Ben Vorlich 987m and Ben Ledi 879m) to the north,
the Ochils (highest Dumyat 418m) to the north and east, to the south west the Touch and Gargunnock Hills (highest Black Craig, 485m), and to the west, Flanders Moss.
The Valley opens out between the hills to the Carse of Stirling, once very wet and boggy, now drained for farming. The rock is red sandstone and the soil in our valley is silty gley, though largely fertile because the village has been cultivated so long, and some patches of very sticky clay.
The village itself grew up around the Abbey, which was famous for its orchards – only one of which survives. The River Teith flows into the Forth at Craigforth, to the north of the area.
The Forth itself winds and meanders and is tidal as far up as the old Stirling Bridge.