Geologist celebrates success of book trilogy

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Geologist Ian Jackson has hiked hundreds of miles, taken thousands of photographs and explored some of the most remote and obscure locations across the three northern counties of England.

And the reason for all this? To write three books on the rocks of Northumberland, Cumbria and Durham and now, all three books are best sellers raising in excess of £20,000 for the wildlife trusts of the three counties: Northumberland, Durham and Cumbria.

What started out as a few web pages celebrating the 50th anniversary of a Northumberland Wildlife Trust morphed into a beautifully illustrated trilogy of books that have been widely praised for making a usually complicated subject accessible to everyone. BBC TV presenter Iain Stewart and world-famous author Simon Winchester are both fans!

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The books provide a gentle introduction to geology with many people using them as ideas for walks whilst other people use them as geological Wainwright tick lists.

Author Ian Jackson with the Whin Sill in the background.Author Ian Jackson with the Whin Sill in the background.
Author Ian Jackson with the Whin Sill in the background.

Author and geologist Ian Jackson says:“Geology is a bit of a nerdy subject. Not everyone loves rocks as much as us geologists, but the amazing number of book sales show that if you cut out technical jargon, keep it short, include lots of photos and connect the rocks to other things such as history, wildlife and society, then people are genuinely interested in the ground under their feet.

“I wanted to help people understand how the landscape they live in came to be. When I was a boy growing up in Cumberland, I was full wonder about the countryside around me - why is that hill there? What’s that crystal? Did woolly mammoths and dinosaurs ever live here? So I thought I’d try and write a book to answer those simple questions and before I knew it one book turned into three.”

Speaking on behalf of the three wildlife trusts Mike Pratt, Northumberland Trust Chief Executive says:“Quite apart from the boost to our income, these books do something much more important in that they explain to people why everything in nature is connected - the rocks, plants, animals, water, the atmosphere and us.

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If we want to look after our environment then making sure we all understand that is crucial. These books are helping people do that. They are a wonderful contribution… and I still can’t believe Ian took all the photos with his phone, which is all it needs to capture something wonderful.”

Trilogy of geology books.Trilogy of geology books.
Trilogy of geology books.

Ian often gives talks and takes groups on guided walks and one of the hardest questions and the one he is asked most often is what is his favourite location and why? Which he answers by telling people there isn’t just one.

Ian Jackson concludes:“How can I have one favourite location when we live in such a stunning part of Britain with so many rocky places to see? How could anyone choose between a walk along the dramatic rocks forming the coastlines of the northeast and Cumbria, or the crags, mountains and moors of the Lake District, Pennines and Cheviots, or the beautiful valleys of the Eden, Tyne, Wear and Tees?”