on the bus in India

Carol Donaldson is a writer and conservationist. She has worked for many of Britain’s top wildlife charities and currently runs her own environmental consultancy, Carol J Donaldson Associates undertaking wildlife surveys, river restoration, flood management and people engagement.

As a writer she has written for Wanderlust, TNT, BBC Wildlife Magazine and The Telegraph about travel, wildlife and quirky British customs. She has written two novels (unpublished, possibly for the best) one travel book – Arctic Life – strangely enough about living in the Arctic and one short travelogue – A Merry Perambulation- following in the footsteps of the 17th century painter William Hogarth who was a jolly decent chap and liked a tipple or three. She was BBC Wildlife Magazine travel writer of the year in 2011

Her Book, On the Marshes is  based on her experience of living in a caravan on the North Kent Marshes. She spent 2014 walking across the marshes and meeting other people who have chosen to live in unconventional ways. It will be published by Little Toller in 2017.

She is currently working on her 2nd book, set in the Kent, which follows the journey of a young man who leaves home to live in the woods and cure himself of his mental health problems.

When not writing she enjoys exploring Kent by bicycle and canoe and dancing the Argentine Tango.

21 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello Carol – Paivi gave me your name. 🙂 I’d be interested in seeing if our paths are likely to cross. I am embarking on a 3 week walk around Swale and Medway – my first ever long walk and I suspect I am underprepared but am clinging onto the adventurous aspect of things – I will learn, but for now like the not knowing newness feel to my walking. It would be great to be in touch if you think it would suit you, too. My walking project website is http://www.walkswalemedway.co.uk

    Best regards


    • Hi Hope, I’ve just finished the first leg of my walk and my next trip will be by boat to Darnet Island. My next walk will be from my home in Rainham along the Medway to either Lower Halstow of maybe Elmley Marshes, but I’m not planning to do this until August as I have to arrange interviews and stays with people along the way. Your project sounds great and I’d like to be involved but my time is a bit limited at the moment. Maybe we could arrange a short walk one evening, maybe at Northward Hill Reserve where I used to live. I’ll send you my e-mail on your website so we can arrange things.
      Best of luck with your project

    • Hi Anna,

      I haven’t seen this film but I will try to track it down. Do you tango? I am not very good but love the chance to put on some heels and do something glamourous

      • hi, I don’t tango but that film is a masterpiece in the story of filmmaking, very well done. among Sally Potter films is the easiest one to find. let me know if you like it. I hope you do but it’s quite particular and has its own different pace and symbology. Cheers have a good day

  2. Hello ,

    Marcel Andre Van-Beest was my grandfather . There are errors in your article , firstly his father was Dutch not English, His Mother was Belgian.
    Marcel was evicted then had to live in a warden secured block for elderly people where he died of a heart attack .

    • Hi Heidi,

      Lovely to hear from someone related to Andre. Sorry if I’ve made mistakes in the article. I found out my information from a family who spent a lot of time with him in the last few years of his life but they did admit that they might be a bit sketchy on the details. I believe he wrote a short book about his life with this family, which I’m hoping to get hold of a copy of soon. Everyone I’ve spoken to tells me he was a lovely man and he sounds a very strong and independent character. I would love to hear more about him. My e-mail is countrysideconsultations@hotamil.com if you would like to get in touch and tell me more.

  3. Your email doesn’t work .

    Lovely to hear from you .
    Marcel died not knowing much about his family but this was an age before computers could provide more information .

    Marcel father is Dutch and his mother is Belgian, he was born in Belgium and dumped in a Dr Barnardo orphanage by his father when his mother died . He was split up from his siblings and never knew anything about his life .
    He had it harder due to a Cleft palate as well .

    My mother has his book , though it’s not very informative !

    Anything I can help with do let me know .

    Kind Regards,


  4. Hi

    I see that you did a interview with Jay Griffits and i have been trying to get in touch with her, but its impossible to find any contact information. So this is my last resort 🙂

    I am producing a spectacular short movie and we are in need for some help to write a short script. I think Jay Griffits would be very interested in the project as it is focused on the environmental challenges we are facing and has a strong woman in the lead. The movie it shot on film underwater at a sunken village in the north of Norway and the footage is very unique. One of Norways best directors is behind the project and we think we will reach a massive crowd.

    Jay Griffits writing is the best I’ve ever read and her style would really suit this project.

    Is there any way you can help me get in touch with her so I can present the film to her and ask if she is interested? Maybe through a agent? Or her e-mail, Skype or phone? After showing her the movie Im sure she would be easily persuaded.

    We are on a really tight schedule and Im hoping to get in touch with her before the upcoming weekend.

    Please contact me on my e-mail: renee@weareatlas.com

    All the best, Renee

  5. Bought ‘On the Marshes’ from Harbour Books during a fleeting visit to Whitstable last week – sadly couldn’t get to your talk the following day! I’m about half way through and it’s an absolute delight. I would rank it equal among my all time favourites, alongside Nan Shepherd’s ‘The Living Mountain’, ‘The Old Ways’ by Robert McFarlane and ‘Peregrine’ by J.A. Baker. Inspirational – thank you.

    • Thank you so much. This is high praise indeed. The Peregrine is a masterpiece of writing and if I had one tenth of his talent with words then I would be happy. I’ve still to read the Living Mountain, a friend is going to let me borrow his copy.

  6. Hello Carol, I’ve just finished reading On the Marshes and wanted to tell you how much I loved it – not only for your beautiful evocation of the North Kent marshes, but also for your story, and for your call to action to all of us to connect with and protect our wild places and our nature in its hidden corners. I was in the woods near our house this weekend and remembering how, when we brought our village Scouts here about ten years ago, hardly any had ever been there before, even though they’re on our doorstep. You’ve reminded me how important it felt then to give them that experience, and how much more so it is now. Thank you! Sarah, East Sussex

    • Hi Sarah, thanks so much for getting in touch. It is lovely for me to hear that people have enjoyed the book and found meaning in it. I think one of the most important things any of us can do is connect the next generation with nature and teach them to care about the other species that occupy our world.

  7. Hi Carol

    Just finished reading your book and loved it. It’s beautiful nature writing – spare and evocative, describing our rapidly shrinking bits of a wild places. Here in Norfolk we’ve been lucky enough to rescue a hectare of land and plant our own wood. We’re surrounded by intensive arable farming but the wood now after 12 years or so has become our own wildlife oasis. (yes I know an ‘oasis’ in itself is a problem for wildlife – we’re trying to address this by introducing as much wildflower diversity into the damp meadow glade as we can). We have an off-grid hut down there and love the dark skies and peacefulness. We rent this out in the summer and we have had our faith restored in the many people who yearn to leave their phones and WiFi behind to escape to something simpler – very many of them young couples. A lot of them say they want to be away from other people – something I always look for myself when choosing a holiday which sounds anti-social but is more ‘anti shared space’! It’s pleasing to know that others share this desire for a low impact life even if it is just for a few days.

    • Hi Steve, Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me you enjoyed the book and to share your plans for your wood. It sounds idyllic. The words, ‘off grid hut’ just fill me with so much joy. I, for one, will never get this desire out of my system. People need community but they also need time to escape and just hear the bird song I feel..

  8. Yes and during this election campaign it was clear that it’s this magical unsustainable economic model of ‘growth’ which will be the continuing pressure on our environment. I was disappointed that even the Greens had nothing to say about population and unsustainability. Seems to be the elephant in the room to me?

    I’m always reminded of Larkin’s verse:

    And that will be England gone,
    The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,
    The guildhalls, the carved choirs.
    There’ll be books; it will linger on
    In galleries; but all that remains
    For us will be concrete and tyres.

    Anyway enough pessimism! Looking forward to the winter solstice and days getting longer and reading Life at Walnut Tree Farm over Christmas with a glass of red wine.


    • Totally agree that population growth is the elephant in the room but the solutions to this are a difficult sell for any politician I guess. Enjoy Walnut Tree Farm and the glass of wine. Did you know that you can now stay at Walnut Tree Farm in Mr Deakins railway carriage? I would definitely recommend it.

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