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Wild Pub Walks - Review

This book seemed to combine two of my favourite activities, which go very well together: good all-day walks and a pint of proper beer. And it does to an extent, as we shall see. Wild Pub Walks combines fairly strenuous hill walks, often around the 10 mile mark with some serious ups and downs, with recommendations of places to sink a pint at the end of the walk. It's divided into England, Scotland and Wales - I'll concentrate on the England section as I'm more familiar with the walks there.

When opening a book like this, the natural tendency is to go straight to the overview map and look where the walks are - I must admit to being dismayed at this point as all the English walks in the Lake District, Peak District and Yorkshire Dales. That's the entire country as far as this book is concerned. That was a real disappointment - I'd have much rather they were spread around more effectively. To take the West Country as a example, you can have just as interesting a walk on the coast of Cornwall, on Dartmoor or on the hills and plains of Wiltshire as you can in the Lakes. Even in the North there was, frankly, a touch of the cliché about the choice. I'd have liked to have seen a Pennine walk with somewhere like Blackstone Edge as a start or end point.

So I did begin with a disappointment, which wasn't entirely helped when I looked at the actual walks pages. Visually they were rather messy. Rather than have a clear, large separate map for the walk it was relatively small and artistically integrated into the text, which was scattered with pictures - not idea for a functional guide.  You would need a separate OS map as well as the guide, which is not ideal.

Having got over that, I can get on to the good point, the walk instructions, which were clear and interesting, taking in a lot on the way. With the three walks I was familiar with (at least parts of), I recognised some good features to those instructions, particularly when the way gets a bit misleading. And, of course, there's that excellent addition of a small pub guide to your destination, with nice little details - for example, why a particular pub has its sign upside down.

Overall, then, I would recommend this book only if you first check the walk locations and they work for you as it's not anywhere near country-wide. The descriptions are good, and with an OS map alongside you should find your way well. But it could have been better.

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