Robert Macfarlane "disliked risk intently” before embarking on his travels to uncover the expanses of geological time, from Norwegian sea caves to an undercover labyrinth in Paris.
And his awe-inspiring discoveries into what lies underground make up the central premise of his book Underland: A Deep Time Journey.
Macfarlane spoke with Welsh author and BBC producer Horatio Clare on the, quite literal, gravitational pull that took him so far underground. He recalled his experience with the elements, most prominently the breath-taking, mysterious and often misunderstood spectacle that is ice, that he described a “black shining pyramid” when he experienced it in arctic Norway.
Macfarlane’s spectacular way with words captivated the audience, and so did an accompanying musical performance by Bookshop Band - the duo that wrote and performed the accompanying song to the book named Deep Time.
The Underland is a place of “astonishing beauty and astonishing horror”, said the author. However, the devastating reality that our planet is not being rightly preserved led the author to adopt a harsh sense of urgency. “We are living in an emergency”, he said.
If you're interested in geography please also see Event 185 at 4pm on Tuesday 28 May. If you like watching Hay Festival events digitally please sign up to the Hay Player for more from the world’s greatest thinkers.
Picture by: Sam Hardwick