Sarn Helen | Granta

  • Published: 02/02/2023
  • ISBN: 9781783788095
  • Granta Books
  • 288 pages

Sarn Helen

Tom Bullough

Sarn Helen – Helen’s Causeway – is the old Roman Road that runs from the south of Wales to the north. As Tom walks the route, sometimes alone, sometimes in company, he describes the changing landscape around him and explores the political, cultural and mythical history of this country that has been so divided, by language and by geography. Running alongside this journey is the story of Tom’s engagement with the issue of the climate crisis and its likely impact on the Welsh coastline. From one of Wales’ most celebrated writers, Sarn Helen is at once a vivid and immersive portrait of a nation, and a resonant meditation upon the way in which we are shaped by place and in turn shape the places – potentially irrevocably.

Vital, and urgent with concern. You cannot leave this book without its message thundering in your head. It is not enough to walk old routes. This was. Now what?

Cynan Jones

A profound and beautiful portrait of Wales. With great charm and learning, Tom Bullough walks us through the country's leafy backways, its deep pasts, the sparkling shards of its identity, its vanishing rural traditions and its fragile ecology

Philip Marsden

A crucial book for now... Bullough has produced a multilayered and compelling account of his home's imperilled future... Stunning

Gwyneth Lewis

The Author

Tom Bullough grew up on a hill farm in Radnorshire, Wales, and lives in the Brecon Beacons with his children. He is the author of four novels – A, The Claude Glass, Konstantin, and Addlands – and, now, Sarn Helen, his first work of non-fiction. Tom is a climate activist and a freelance tutor in creative writing, and runs regular courses on climate and writing for Black Mountains College and the Arvon Foundation.

More about the author →

From the Same Author


Tom Bullough

Addlands is the moving and engrossing story of the Hamer family and their home, the Funnon Farm, deep in the hills of the Welsh borders.

There is Idris, proud and insular, a man of the plough and the prayer sheet, haunted by the First World War. Then there is the boy Oliver, who grows to be a near mythic giant in the community, a fighter, a drinker, inescapably rooted in their hard, remote valley. And there is Etty, Oliver’s mother, the centre of this close constellation, who navigates old ways and new technologies as she struggles to ensure her family’s survival.

From the ancient silence in the hills to the encroaching roar of modernity, spanning seventy years, Addlands tells of human and animal; it speaks of the land and lets the land speak for itself. It is as vast and complex as a symphony but as pure and moving as a solo voice in an empty church.

Tom Bullough on

In Conversation | The Online Edition

In Conversation

Tom Bullough & Ben Rawlence

‘People may not want realism but it’s still our job to try and supply it in compelling and truthful ways.’

Tom Bullough and Ben Rawlence on writing into the climate crisis.