The West Country, By John Payne

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The Independent Culture

Charming, learned and a little old-fashioned, Payne's tour of the culture and nature of the counties between Stourhead and Scilly feels more at home with the Glastonbury of legends than of festivals – even if he notes that poet Martin Bax, a local council member, sealed the deal to secure Michael Eavis's licence.

Likewise, Padstow here means the ancient jollity of the 'obby 'oss rather than the bistrots of Rick Stein – although he's strong on designs for renewal, such as the Eden Project. But then the past does hang lush and heavy here.

Payne – in a fine addition to Signal's "Landscapes of the Imagination" list – guides us genially and instructively from Hardy's Dorset right down to Hepworth's St Ives.