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In search of the wasteland

Two poets have written an account of parts of England that even now don’t appear on maps. They capture beautifully their haunting atmosphere

By Benedict Allen   February 2011

Off the map: “edgelands” like this one in Greenwich lie at the margins of our cities, abandoned by people and partly reclaimed by nature

Edgelands: Journeys Into England’s True Wilderness by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts (Jonathan Cape, £12.99)

It is commonly said, in this age of Google Maps, that our planet has now been fully explored. Satellites survey the remotest jungle, while sonar equipment probes each ocean trench. Gone are the days of Dr Livingstone, when hardy souls revealed landscapes unknown to the wider world. Now—so popular wisdom has it—discovery is the job of the specialist. The final…

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