Duncan Petersen (2023)
Reviewed by Piers Warren
Publishers Duncan Petersen have a good track record for producing quality walking guides for destinations in Britain and around the world, and this is no exception.
The subtitle ‘Inspiring routes in thought provoking landscapes and places’ sums up this book well. There 50 routes scattered throughout England, Wales and Scotland, each one carefully chosen not just as a stimulating expedition but with themes to focus the mind. Indeed, each route is presented with a ‘Thought for the walk’ which are an eclectic mix ranging from the simple ‘Do we still need myths’ to the more complex ’ Do you connect with nature in a holistic, or a fragmentary way?’
This is an attractive and well thought out guide with many beautiful photographs. It starts with an introduction covering some basics such as planning, weather, clothing, safety etc. There is also a brief discussion of ‘The Celts and Celtic Christianity’ as this is an important theme of the guide’s walks in Wales.
Each walk is described as being either a ‘short half day’ (under 4 miles), ‘half day’ (4-8 miles) or ‘one day’ (over 8 miles). In addition there are several multi-day walks which have been split at useful stopping places. Some of the walks are circular routes, some require you to retrace your steps back to the beginning, while others have recommendations for public transport for your return leg.
Each walk is covered in six or so pages starting with a summary followed by an introduction which includes interesting background information about the area to back up the ‘Thought for the walk’. Then there is a section of highlights to look out for on the trek, with accompanying photographs, and finally the guide to the walk itself which describes the route in detail along with a map.
I was impressed with the diversity of the places suggested and the connected themes – everything from pagan shrines, Christian pilgrimages, Buddhist monasteries and meditation centres to the homes of poets, writers and artists. The introductions to each route were all fascinating even if you do not intend to undertake the walk – featuring interesting snippets of philosophy, folklore, poems, prayers and quotes.
An accessible and attractive guide that will easily fit in a rucksack and provide inspiration for many days out on foot.