Meet the North Yorkshire farmer highlighting countryside conservation in his book trilogy Landscapes of Love

Almost twenty years ago Philip Tyler moved to what was a “derelict dairy farm” in the heart of North Yorkshire. “The landscape was very bare, just a few wire fences here and there,” he says. “We set about trying to improve it from a nature point of view.”

When we speak via video call, he on the farm just outside of the village of Pickhill, his dog Teazel is the only animal that makes an appearance, the Jack Russell and Norfolk Terrier cross pawing at the door to be let inside, before later changing her mind and venturing out to roam again.

But the grounds of Middle Park Farm are now a haven for wildlife, with otters, mute swans, roe deer and buzzards among the creatures attracted to the site. “Once you create the right environment, the animals naturally migrate into it,” Philip says.

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His home is an equine stud farm, home to thoroughbred race horses, Ryeland sheep and Dartmoor ponies, as well as offices for his horse feed business TopSpec.

Philip Tyler, who lives on a farm close to Masham, is writing a book trilogy which in part highlights conservation in the countryside.Philip Tyler, who lives on a farm close to Masham, is writing a book trilogy which in part highlights conservation in the countryside.
Philip Tyler, who lives on a farm close to Masham, is writing a book trilogy which in part highlights conservation in the countryside.

Over the past two decades, he’s also worked to create an environment for an abundance of wild animals, birds and plants, by digging out two lakes, planting a woodland and creating hay meadows and pastures with new hedgerows.

“It has required a lot of thought and planning, and obviously some expense, but you get huge reward seeing all the wildlife living on what you’ve created,” he says.

The surroundings give Philip endless opportunities for his love of photography. A lifetime in the countryside has also inspired him to turn his hand to writing. Catharsis, the first book in his Landscapes of Love trilogy, was published in February. His second, Retribution, has just been released and the third is in the pipeline for spring.

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The books follow the entwined love lives of three characters, Charlotte, Daniel and Anne Marie. Charlie lives on a large family estate in the Yorkshire Dales and has a business as a landscape photographer.

Philip Tyler of Middle Park Farm, Pickhill.Philip Tyler of Middle Park Farm, Pickhill.
Philip Tyler of Middle Park Farm, Pickhill.

Daniel is an independent mercenary who works for governments and wealthy organisations around the world. He uses the financial rewards to run conservation programmes for white rhinos in Kenya and mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

"There are a lot of books written about people living in an urban environment but there aren’t many written about what it’s actually like to live in the countryside and what people in the countryside do to help with conversation,” Philip says.

“I think inevitably when you write a book, parts of your own life are going to be involved within it,” he continues. “I’ve spent my whole life working around Yorkshire and the Dales and it does draw on some of my experience. The characters are not real people, although I do like to have a person in my head when I’m developing them.”

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The books, he says, are dedicated to the park rangers “who risk their lives every day to protect mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park and the rhinos under the protection of Kenya’s Wildlife Security Division”.

Philip says he’s trying to convey what conservation is “really like” on the ground. His own environmentalism began when working in Warwickshire in the 1960s on a dairy farm that was passionate about conservation.

His degree in the physiology and biochemistry of farm animals at Reading University taught him more about the importance of conservation and it is something he has carried with him in his farming work throughout the years.

“I think most people who actually work in the countryside - estate owners, farmers, people living in villages with their own gardens - do a tremendous amount to keep the balance of nature right,” he says. “A lot of the conversation tends to focus on problem areas but actually farmers and people in the countryside do a huge amount to conserve wildlife, in terms of planting new hedgerows and forests and that sort of thing. There’s a huge amount that goes on without much publicity.”

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“I think it’s important that everybody does their bit,” he adds. “I don’t think it matters whether you have a flat in Leeds with a window box or your own 20,000 acre estate.

"Everybody has a responsibility to improve the environment in which they live whether it’s planting a few flowers in a window box to attract bees and insects or on an estate planting trees and forests to attract a range of wildlife. We should all try and do our bit.”