What would happen if you chose to avoid a conventional life and instead lived within your means in a caravan or a cabin in the woods? It’s a question for our times. When Carol Donaldson walked across the marshlands of north Kent, travelling from Gravesend to Whitstable, she was still coming to terms with being evicted from her home and the break-up of a long-term relationship. Before then she had chosen a simple existence, living in a caravan underneath a willow tree while she worked on a RSPB nature reserve surveying wetland wildlife. Despite the frozen pipes and electricity that blew out in every storm, it was a way of life she came to love. What begins as a walk away from her troubled past becomes a journey of self-discovery, a pilgrimage in search of people who have chosen to live on the edge of England in this lonely, beautiful waterland. She meets plotholders, houseboat owners and cabin dwellers who are all drawn to the watery margins by an urge to escape the expectations, comforts and costs of twenty-first-century life. On The Marshes brings us an original voice that weaves Donaldson’s personal story of alienation and yearning with others who have made the north Kent waterlands their home. She explores the conflicts between marsh-dwellers and corporate Britain, private ownership and conservation, and the different ways we live on this tribally divided island.