Earlier this year John Burland accompanied me on a walk in the Lake District from the charming hamlet of Hartsop, during which he told me more about his recently published book detailing thirty walks in God’s Own Country. I knew what he was talking about – the county of Yorkshire – because I had lived and worked in Bradford during the mid 1980s which had given me the opportunity to enjoy some of the wonderful countryside in England’s biggest county.
Back then, I did the ‘usual’ stuff : Malham Cove and Gordale Scar, Ilkley Moor and the Cow and Calf rocks, Pen-y-Ghent and Top Withens, walks which are all featured in John’s new book. But there is much more besides, and it left me thinking : ‘John, why didn’t you bring this out 30 years ago?’
What I like about this book (apart from an inspired selection of walks to suit all tastes/physical capabilities etc), is its elegant simplicity ; it has all you need in a guidebook – a summary of the walk, grid references, distance covered and amount of ascent, and, of course, a nice narrative about each walk – plus lots of historical and geographical detail that adds so much more to any excursion, long or short. Walks in and around six valleys are featured – Ribblesdale, Airedale, Wharfedale, Nidderdale, Wensleydale and Swaledale – which reads like a lucky-dip of luscious locations. Hmmmm!
John’s clear and concise writing (mercifully, with none of the flowery prose found in some modern guidebooks which I won’t mention) is very easy to read and ‘take in’, and is complimented by hand-drawn maps by Ron Scholes which would give Wainwright’s a run for their money.
All in all, this is a lovely book, to be used either as a step-by-step guide while on the walk, or to enjoy re-reading in front of a roaring fire and a pint of Tetley’s at the end of the day. I would thoroughly recommend it.
Reviewed by CLIVE HUTCHBY, author of The Wainwright Companion, who is currently revising Alfred Wainwright’s seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells.