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.

A delight. [Bullough] writes elegantly on nature and his chapters are beautifully illustrated by Jackie Morris

Simon Jenkins, TLS

Deeply moving... If nature writers want to draw more people to the environmental cause, this book makes clear that love works much better than fear


The poetry of Bullough's writing is ever present, mirroring rivers, rolling farmland and high, rocky ridges... despite the many times I have wept inconsolably whilst reading, this book is an absolute must. It has left an imprint upon my soul

Nation, Cymru

The Author

Tom Bullough lives in Bannau Brycheiniog (the Brecon Beacons) and is the author of four novels including, most recently, Addlands. Sarn Helen, his first work of non-fiction, was longlisted for the Wainwright Prize for writing on conservation. Jackie Morris is an award-winning illustrator, artist and author of over forty books, including, with Robert Macfarlane, The Lost Words.

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.