Andrew Terrill brings his Colorado family over to visit England’s green and varied land
In the Spring 2018 issue of The Great Outdoors, Andrew Terrill writes of how his children, born in Colorado, came to visit the land of his own birth – and came to see past how green everything is…
In this extract from Andrew’s feature, we’ve included several photos that didn’t make it into print, along with exclusive commentary from the author. Be sure to pick up a copy of the magazine to read the full piece.

By Andrew Terrill
For four weeks I’d been asking my two children the same old question: “So… what do you think?” From the Chilterns to Cornwall to the rolling hills of Shropshire I’d posed the question again and again, hoping desperately that England, the land of my birth, was measuring up favorably against Colorado, the land of theirs. But it wasn’t until the final day that I received an answer that went beyond the obvious.
It came in Hertfordshire, with a soft woodland path underfoot and emerald light spilling through a translucent canopy overhead. Hearing the question for what may have been the hundredth time my oldest, Riley, stopped patiently a few yards ahead. Instead of rolling his eyes, or complaining with a heartfelt “Dad, really, that question, again?” he gave a thoughtful look, developed a mischievous glint in his eyes, and said…

Just a short hop from London, the Chilterns offer much for ‘wild land’ connoisseurs. Sure, the range isn’t ‘mountain wild’… but it does offer natural treasures aplenty. Rich environments like the blue bell wood pictured here helped my two Colorado children lose themselves utterly. There’s nothing in Colorado quite like this!

My Rocky Mountain home is home also to plenty of bears… but apparently bears are hidden away in the Chilterns too! My daughter, Naomi, found this one near Chorleywood, lurking just a short walk from bustling suburbia.

Well, perhaps we need to backtrack a little first…
The story begins with my own childhood in suburban London, an upbringing that rarely involved wild nature. For me, life’s foundation – the normal and the familiar – was streets and houses; the environment against which all other places would always be measured. What little I knew of the natural world came from others, through books, movies, and television, where the wild was almost always a hostile and unforgiving adversary people had to fight to overcome. It was no wonder I grew up viewing wild nature with distrust, brainwashed into believing it a place humans didn’t belong.

This photo shows a crystal-clear chalk stream, the River Chess, drifting through unassuming agricultural hills. To some, such ‘tamed’ landscapes may seem ordinary, if not dull… but to two mountain children the gentle stream, the waterside reed beds, the little copses dotted along the valley, the thousands of songbirds, the darting fox we spied, the red kites overhead, the constant unfolding variety, all totally enchanted. It was an uncomfortably cold morning, with frost on the ground and fingers going numb, but every few yards of path along the Chess Valley delivered another miracle.

Coming from a land-locked mountain environment, my children fell hard for Cornwall’s coast path. Possibly, they were influenced by my own passion for coastal walking. Here, my son Riley is striding out, discovering that the Coast Path is an equal to any high mountain trail.

My two children, on the other hand, are growing up with a more realistic view. For Riley and Naomi, wild nature is a constant presence, passing frequently beneath their feet, appearing every morning through their bedroom windows, sometimes even staring straight back in. I didn’t discover the natural world until I was eighteen, but my children were born to it, were carried into it before they could form words or take steps of their own. The wild is a normal part of their everyday lives.
They were born in Colorado, my home since 2003, a region needing little introduction to readers of The Great Outdoors. A decades-long journey over tens of thousands of wilderness miles delivered me to Colorado, but Colorado was where the journey began for my children, and because of it their view of the world is so fundamentally different from mine I still can’t quite grasp how it must look.
What, for instance, would they think of the green and pleasant land their old man hailed from? Would it look dull, flat, tame? At twelve and eight respectively they hadn’t visited, a result of lifestyle choices made as a family, and barely affordable air fares, and my own unease at air travel’s even higher environmental cost. But finally, the desire to return overcame the reasons not to, and across the pond we soared, a four-week visit stretching ahead…

The Hall Walk is a short but appealing belvedere path that skirts around the Fowey Estuary from Bodinnick to Polruan. It quickly became one of my family’s favorite walks, and the variety in this shot perhaps reveals why. Back home in Colorado snow was falling hard, spring was still a long way off… but here in Cornwall early April along the Hall Walk felt almost like summer.

Another photograph taken along the Hall Walk, this shot at a memorial stone overlooking the small village of Polruan (left) and Fowey (right). I think it’s possible that we sometimes take for granted the sheer variety of landscapes we have available in the UK. But you can be sure that we weren’t taking it for granted on the day pictured here!

The footpath network we have in England was another detail I also once took for granted, but not any more. Such things – rights of way across private land – don’t exist in Colorado, or in most other parts of the world. Here, Naomi is making the most of one such path, as she heads from sheltered valley towards upland hills, on ‘private’ ground almost all the way.

To read Andrew Terrill’s full feature, pick up a copy of the Spring 2018 TGO.
All images © Andrew Terrill