By Sally Benjamin
Nicholas Crane, President of the Royal Geographical Society and presenter of much-loved television programmes such as ‘Coast’ on the BBC, graced the stage at one of the biggest DUGS talks in the societies history. On Tuesday 24th January, nearly one hundred people attended this once in a lifetime event to hear from the man who has been one of geography’s biggest advocates. He talked about his new book, The Making of the British Landscape, which he wrote to give the United Kingdom a new, shared narrative.
A food and drinks reception kick-started proceedings, with staff and students alike mingling and enjoying the calm and inviting intellectual atmosphere.
A geography degree, coupled with boundless enthusiasm for the outdoors saw Crane undertake many an adventure in his younger years. Even once solo walking Cape Finisterre to Istanbul, a journey of 10,000 kilometres. This was followed by the book Clear Waters Rising: A Mountain Walk Across Europe. This won the Thomas Cook Travel Book award for that year and was later turned into a TV documentary.
In 2000, he published another book called ‘Two Degrees West’. This recorded his walk from one side of Great Britain to the other, following the meridian line as closely as possible.
His efforts created a respected reputation, which led to him being elected to his current position as President of the Royal Geographical Society in 2015.
Crane’s new book: The Making of the British Landscape: From the Ice Age to the Present, was the topic of the talk. It charts 12,000 years of history of the British landscape, exploring the powerful and irreversible effect that humans have had on the natural environment. People have been intrinsically connected to the landscape for centuries, evolving in a co-dependent manner.
A key argument of the talk was that there are dual forces at play that alter the landscape; population and climate change. This relationship has undulated throughout history and will continue to do so as methods of sustainability are explored.
After the talk, a significant crowd gathered around him at the end of the talk, keen to garner tips for success in TV and to have the copies of books that they had received for Christmas autographed.
The evening was a great success received well by all, from the freshers to the emeritus professors who returned to the University for the event.
The next talk is 21st February 2017. Details to follow shortly on the DUGS Facebook page and Palatinate SciTech online.
Photograph: Jiahe Max Luan