The Circling Sky

From a 2018 Wainwright Prize shortlisted author, THE CIRCLING SKY is part childhood memoir, blended with exquisite nature observation, and the story of one man’s journey over a year to one of the UK’s key natural habitats, the New Forest of Hampshire

In the form of several journeys, beginning in January 2019, Neil Ansell returns for solitary walks to the New Forest in Hampshire, close to where he was born. With beautiful sightings and observations of birds, trees, butterflies, insects and landscape, this is also a reflective memoir on childhood, on the history of one of the most ancient and important natural habitats in the United Kingdom, and on the Gypsies who lived there for centuries – and were subsequently expelled to neighbouring cities. It is also part polemic on our collective and individual responsibility for the land and world in which we live, and how we care for it.

As Neil Ansell concludes so eloquently, ‘Evolution has no choice in what it does, but we do, as a species, if not always as individuals’.


‘Neil Ansell’s series of walks in the New Forest through the course of a
year coalesce into a skilful exploration of memory, childhood, and how
certain landscapes can become an integral part of your life. Ansell is a
gifted naturalist, sensitive, inquisitive, at times justly enraged,
invariably joyful. The Circling Sky is a wonderful tribute to a unique
and precious place’ – James Macdonald Lockhart, author

‘A beautiful evocation of life in a forest and a powerful reminder of the interconnected fate of all wild things, including ourselves’ Raynor Winn

‘Like taking a refreshing and eye-opening walk in the open air with the most interesting, observant and companionable of guides’ Naomi Ishiguro

‘Neil Ansell is a wonderful guide as he takes the reader through his series of walks in the New Forest over the course of a year. Blending childhood memories and history with acute observations of the birds, butterflies, trees, insects and landscape he encounters, this is a delight of nature writing’. Choice Magazine