Famous British Trails
The Pennine Way
The Pennine Way runs 267 miles (429 km) from Edale in the Peak District, northwards through the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Northumberland National Park, ending at Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders.
Land’s End to John o’ Groats
LEJOG is the traverse of the whole length of the island of Britain between extremities in the south-west and north-east. The traditional distance by road is 874 miles (1,407 km) which takes most cyclists 10 to 14 days. The record for running the route is nine days. Off-road walkers typically walk about 1,200 miles (1,900 km) and take 2/3 months.
Walking Home: Travels with a troubadour on the Pennine Way by Simon Armitage
This journey starts off as a poet’s exploration of the idea of home inspired by Homer’s Odyssey. Simon Armitage had no previous experience of long distance hiking when he set off from Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. He had to invest in everything he needed for the journey prior to setting off. Reliant solely on an array of rangers, environmental experts and poetry fans to provide meals, accommodation, and baggage handling along the route, Armitage’s journey reads like that of an itinerant player from a distant age.
The book offers an excellent balance of descriptions of the countryside and humorous stories about the people he meets. The author’s attitude towards the route is fairly ambivalent after some unlucky weather towards the end, but this account is still readable and witty.
The Last Hillwalker by John D. Burns
This book covers all the ground of more traditional autobiographies, exploring many aspects of mountaineering in a knowledgeable way. Unlike authors with sponsorship deals and other income streams, John D. Burns pursues his passion for the mountains as a hobby, and works for rescue services as a volunteer. This means that there is less wish fulfilment involved in this story than in other books of this genre. The author pragmatically seeks to combine work, leisure and public service throughout his career by accepting positions which will provide improved opportunities for climbing and rescue service, as well as professional satisfaction.
At times the author strives for a broader scope in his work which is quite diverting. However the more universal themes such as politics, history and economics encompassed by the book sometimes have the effect of reducing the impact of the personal narrative which I would have liked to read more about.
Lands End to John o’ Groats. The ride that started it all by Sean Conway
Shamed into holidaying in this country by his flatmate, Sean Conway bought a bike on Ebay, assembled a kit, and set off with the aim of cycling solo and unsupported from Land’s End to John o’ Groats with no previous cycling experience. The book is written in the cheerful and colloquial style which we now associate with this author. There is detail aplenty about the logistics as well as the emotional and financial support which he attracts during the course of this inaugural journey.
The book offers some tips for people attempting LEJOG, and adds in a postscript that it was this trip which inspired his attempt to cycle around the world only 8 months later. (This journey is described in his book ‘Cycling the Earth; A life changing race around the world’ described in the Global reviews section).
Ramble On: The story of our love for walking in Great Britain by Sinclair McKay
This is a great compendium of a book ideal for dipping in and out of on a walk really. The book is arranged geographically and thematically rather than being slavishly historical. It covers historical moments such as post war regeneration and the move towards greater accessibility for working people which lead in turn to the creation of the first national parks, the Kinder trespass and the creation of the Pennine Way.
‘Ramble On’ also explores the key figures in the history of recreational walking such as Wordsworth, Wainwright and Tom Stephenson, the role of historical movements such as Romanticism and modern psychogeography, and the rapid growth of walking tourism reflected by the development of the YHA, themed walks and new “pilgrimages”.
Overall this book provides a fascinating cross section of information which will appeal to most walkers.
I paid the normal price for these items.