Welcome to our Early Bird programme. The full programme will be released at the end of March.
A message from the Finnish embassy launches Horatio Clare on a voyage around an extraordinary country and an unearthly place, the frozen Bay of Bothnia, just short of the Arctic Circle. Finland is an enigmatic place, famous for its educational miracle, healthcare and gender equality – as well as Nokia, Angry Birds, saunas, questionable cuisine and deep taciturnity. Aboard the icebreaker Otso Clare gets to know the crew, and explores Finland’s history and character. His most recent books include Down to the Sea in Ships and Myths and Legends of the Brecon Beacons. Chaired by Peter Florence.
Worldwide survival inspiration, best selling author and Chief Scout Bear Grylls talks to the editor of GQ magazine about a lifetime of adventure.
In the Arctic, White, a marine conservationist, shimmies under the ice with an Inuit elder to hunt for mussels in the dark cavities left behind at low tide; in China, he races the Silver Dragon, a 25-foot tidal bore that crashes 80 miles up the Qiantang River; in Chile and Scotland, he investigates the growth of tidal power generation; and in Panama and Venice, he delves into how the threat of sea level rise is changing human culture – the very old and very new. Tides combines lyrical prose, colourful adventure travel and provocative scientific inquiry into the elemental, mysterious paradox that keeps our planet’s waters in constant motion.
Morpurgo dramatises an episode in Francis Drake's circumnavigation during which the Golden Hind was stranded on a rock off Celebes, Indonesia. What altercation occurred between Drake and the ship's chaplain, Francis Fletcher, during those terrifying 20 hours? Morpurgo makes a compelling argument for what was really at the heart of that disagreement, and its present-day repercussions. He argues that the Tudor navigators and their stories may hold the key to how we should approach the current environmental crisis. Chaired by Daisy Leitch.
For 150 years, canals were the high-tech water machines driving the industrial revolution. Amazing feats of engineering, they carried the rural into the city and the urban into the countryside, and changed the lives of everyone. Then, just when their purpose was extinguished by modern transport, they were saved from extinction and repurposed as a 'slow highways' network, a peaceful and countrywide haven from our too-busy age. Today, there are more boats on the canals than in their Victorian heyday. Writer and slow adventurer Jasper Winn spent a year exploring Britain's waterways along 1,000 miles of 'wet roads and water streets' where he discovered a world of wildlife corridors, underground adventures, the hardware of heritage and history, new boating communities, endurance kayak races and remote towpaths. Chaired by Mark Skipworth.
In the Islamic tradition, a garden with its central elements of water, the scent of fruit trees, and places for rest and reflection, celebrates Heaven on Earth. The gardener Monty Don and acclaimed photographer Derry Moore set off on a journey to find out more about the principles and immersive delights of paradise gardens and how a very different culture and climate has influenced garden design round the world. From the Real Alcazar and the Alhambra in Spain to a Mughal garden in Bradford, the Taj Mahal in India, and the Maidan in Isfahan, Iran, the birthplace of paradise gardens, they present a glorious celebration of the richness of Islamic culture through some of the most beautiful gardens on earth.
In the classic literary tradition of Bruce Chatwin, Atkins offers a rich and exquisitely written account of travels in eight deserts on five continents that evokes the timeless allure of these remote and forbidding places. From the Gobi Desert and Taklamakan deserts of north-west China to the man-made desert of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and the Black Rock and Sonoran Deserts of the American south-west, each of Atkins’ travel narratives effortlessly weaves aspects of natural history, historical background and present-day reportage into a compelling tapestry that reveals the human appeal of these often inhuman landscapes.
The British Isles are an archipelago made up of two large islands and 6,289 smaller ones. The nature writer meets all kinds of islanders, from nuns to puffins, from local legends to rare subspecies of vole, as he seeks to discover what it is like to live on a small island, and what it means to be an islander.
Barkham’s books include Coastlines, Badgerlands and The Butterfly Isles.
From Waterloo to Whitby, St Pancras to Stirling, these are the marvellous, often under-sung places that link our nation. Blending his usual insight and authority, Jenkins examines the geography, architecture and symbolism of these glories of our national heritage.
In 387BC, Celtic warriors defeated a Roman army and sacked Rome. It was the bold act of a confident superpower, one that had dominated Europe for 300 years and whose influence stretched from Britain to Turkey, from Poland to Portugal. What do we know about the warriors that humiliated Rome 1,400 years ago? The Celts did not keep written records and so much of their story and many of their achievements were forgotten. And yet, their world is not entirely lost to us. Using the latest archaeological and scientific research, Roberts tells the story of a multicultural empire, built not just on military might and migration but also through a cultural conquest of trade and influence. It was a pioneering civilization, capable of teaching Rome about weapons and infrastructure; of producing exquisite jewellery and intricate royal tombs; and of acting with callous brutality. This is the story of a European culture that changed Britain for ever.