Islander – A Journey Around Our Archipelago – Patrick Barkham


Islander – A Journey Around Our Archipelago by Patrick Barkham

How many times have you heard the expression ‘We are an island race’ This is of course true but how many of you actually know how many islands there are around Britain? The answer is a staggering 6,289 but not all are inhabited. For the nature writer Patrick Barkham who has been shortlisted for his books The Butterfly Isles and Badgerlands returns with Islander-A Journey Around our Archipelago were he island hops to discover how life really is and the natural history of the Islands that make up our wonderful country.


I have been lucky enough to island hop around our coastline while studying wildlife but here in this outstanding book Patrick Barkham visits some islands we may never get the chance to visit, such as South Ronaldsay, Eigg, St. Kilda, and also Rathlin among others. Along the way he talks about the ecology of the islands and culture as well as meeting the wildlife of the islands.

Anyone who has watch Whisky Galore will know the story was written by Sir Compton Mackenzie who loved islands so much he actually liked buying islands as well this may account for his love of isolation. Along the way Barkham meets the people of the islands who live and work on the islands. Some of the islands he visits can be described as remote. It can be a hard life and the weather extreme and some of the islands can easily be cut off for days or weeks at a time. Then of course there is the uniqueness of each of the islands and also the geo politics. The people work the land but they also have to run the islands as well.


Some of my favourite islands are those on the West Coast of Scotland and also the Scilly Islands. Life can be extreme to say the least but time spent on these islands changes you as a person. What really stands out for me is Barkham’s writing on natural history aspects of the islands and how species have developed away from the mainland.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that Patrick Barkham will make the longlist for the 2018 Wainwright Prize with this wonderful account of just a few of our islands dotted around Britain’s coastline.

368 Pages.

 Thank you Lamorna Elmer and Granta Books for the review copy of Islander by Patrick Barkham

Islander – A Journey Around Our Archipelago by Patrick Barkham is published by Granta Books and was published on 5th October 2017 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.