The magic and mystery of the woods are embedded in culture, from ancient folklore to modern literature. They offer us refuge: a place to play, a place to think. They are the generous providers of timber and energy. They let us dream of other ways of living. Yet we now face a future where taking a walk in the woods is consigned to the tales we tell our children. In Oak and Ash and Thorn, Peter Fiennes explores our long relationship with the woods and the sad and violent story of how so many have been lost.


Today, ash trees face a particular crisis. The grave prognosis the trees have been given as a result of ash dieback takes on a personal resonance when, in the course of writing Epitaph for the Ash, Lisa Samson is diagnosed with a brain tumour. While she receives treatment, and learns to walk and talk again, Lisa finds solace once more in the natural world. As Lisa contemplates her own mortality, and the trees’ likely fate emerges, Epitaph for the Ash offers up a rallying cry to treasure these remarkable woodlands while we still can, before it is too late.