The Book of Trespass by Nick Hayes review – a trespasser's radical manifesto

The land belongs to us all! A skilful writer and illustrator explores out-of-bounds country estates and identifies his enemies

Readers acquainted with modern British nature writing will know their way around The Book of Trespass, an episodic travelogue that weaves history into close observation of the material world. Less familiar is the radicalism that enlivens Nick Hayes’s dispatches.

Chapter by chapter, we follow him over walls and through hedges into the private landholdings of England, including Arundel Castle (among the Duke of Norfolk’s residences), Boughton House (the Dukes of Buccleuch), Highclere Castle (the “real” Downton Abbey, owned by the Earl of Carnarvon) – and the Sussex estate of Paul Dacre, former editor of the Daily Mail. Hayes counterpoints these recces into establishment territory with visits to the “Jungle” migrant camp in Calais – a kind of forward operating base of UK border control – and the Wilderness music and cultural festival, favourite of David and Samantha Cameron, where in the absence of actual wilderness he embarks on another act of boundary crossing, with a leg-up from MDMA.

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