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Write that walking guide!

July 6, 2013

The other day, in my review of the new walking guide 25 Walks Around Teignmouth and Dawlish, I suggested that one very good way of keeping paths open is to write a book of walks.25walksfrontcover_2_thumb

I also suggested that, like the Teignmouth/Dawlish guide that this should be for areas that are not already well-covered by other guidebooks.

After all, do we really need any new guides – for a while – to the Lakeland Fells, Dartmoor or the New Forest? These areas are already very well covered.

No, we need walking guides for quieter relatively unknown areas.TDWAYFront_Cover_thumb

There is no doubt in my mind that walking guides DO open up paths.

I helped the late Joe Turner survey the route for the Two Moors Way. The paths in the mid-Devon section were in a terrible state. Many completely blocked. They clearly hadn’t been walked for generations. We got out there. Mapped them. Cleared them (a mammoth task). Now they are walked by ramblers from around the world. B and B’s pubs and shops thrive because we did that task in a relatively unknown part of Devon. All the paths are walkable.

Kate Ashbrook has suggested that rambling groups should devote more of their walking to these lesser known areas. I quite agree. Walkers keep paths open. Every recce is a walking survey. Get out there! Claim back those paths!

So do find a quiet area near you. Look at the OS map and plan some routes. Get out there and do the walks. Chase up the highways authority if there are any problems with the paths. Then write the guide book. The Ramblers Association publish a leaflet on how to do it so look at their website.

And how wonderful it would be if the Ramblers could be persuaded to make small grants towards the publication of walks guides in areas where walking and the paths are neglected?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2013 8:39 am

    Our book, The Megalithic Empire, started out as a walking guide [original title ‘Walking The Ancient Landscape’] but we found there was no market. Publishers were only interested in walking guides that covered a specific region or long-distance track e.g. The Ridgeway, Coast-to-Coast, etc.rather than a book describing relatively out of the way places.

    There’s a U3A project investigating local (the Reading area and adjacent Thames Valley) footpaths. The walkers researching historic pathways are supported by the Berkshire Records Office (nothing like getting people to do the work for you for free!) but whether they intend to publish the findings I couldn’t say. Perhaps the regional/historic focus might persuade a publisher to get involved.

  2. July 6, 2013 3:13 pm

    It is a dilemma, particularly as publishers are feeling the pinch. Most guides are self-published, though some of the smaller presses might be worth seeking out. Worth seeking the advice of the Ramblers Association as they may know who is currently publishing. I have just put out two books “Rambling – the Beginner’s Bible” and “The Compleat Trespasser” as Kindle books on Amazon, though I hope these will find a life as physical books very soon.

  3. July 7, 2013 6:50 am

    The T and D Ramblers tell me they’ve sold 150 in a week!

  4. July 7, 2013 2:09 pm

    Nice post and I agree about guides for the more obscure areas, maybe I should do one for the fens ; )

    One important point, the Ramblers need to make it easier to report overgrown paths, signposts wilfully knocked-down etc. I took photos of a number of these on a recent hike and expected to be able to upload them directly to the Ramblers site but no such service is offered. It’s so easy to offer photo uploads, I could then tag with with OS coordinates etc. Simple.

  5. July 7, 2013 2:52 pm

    I think the other point that concerns me…I have reported a number of blocked paths etc on the Ramblers website. These are passed on to groups and areas, but do these people actually chase them up. I never seem to hear again…

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