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back to Book Reviews

A Coast to Coast Walk by A. Wainwright
revised by Chris Jesty
ISBN: 978-0-7112-3063-7
Frances Lincoln

Coast to Coast revised by Chris JestyIn 1972, after months of painstaking research and many miles of walking, AW completed a book describing a walk he had devised and created from St Bees Head on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea. Over the subsequent 38 years, this route has been followed by many thousands of walkers.

When AW planned the route of this wonderful walk, he did not stick absolutely to rights of way and inevitably there were complaints from a few landowners, which I suppose was understandable bearing in mind the increasing amount of human traffic. In 1994, after AW’s death, the book was revised by Michael Joseph Ltd to address this problem.

Although the map revisions, which were carried out by Chris Jesty, were as good as one would expect, the typeset text corrections were not very attractively done. However, I understand that Betty Wainwright would not then allow look-alike Wainwright handwriting so, in the circumstances, this was the best that could be done. Now a completely new revised version has been produced and, using the advances in modern technology, the revisions have been incorporated in the original text, using the Wainwright font devised by Frances Lincoln Ltd to replicate AW’s handwriting. This means that new text has slotted almost seamlessly into the book.

In the 1994 revised edition, one of the major changes was the use of the three seasonal routes adopted in Nine Standards Rigg area; these were introduced to help minimise erosion in this popular area. In this new edition, the paths have been helpfully printed in red, blue and green to match the three seasonal routes. It seems a pity that these were not also shown on the section map on page 72. In this section, on page 77, there is a bad error where the instruction is to ‘Bear LEFT at the signpost at 600 feet’ when this is quite clearly shown on the 1600’ contour line on the map.

As with the earlier revised Pictorial Guides, the remainder of the route is shown on the maps in russet red with alternative high-level routes shown in black. Throughout the book, there have been myriad changes to both text and maps to bring the walk up to date. I noted for example that on page 106 in the description of Richmond that reference to the Woolworth store that was in the original book has been removed following it’s closure last year has been replaced with a reference to Lewis Carrol [sic], the author of the famous Alice in Wonderland, who was a pupil at Richmond School – but, oh dear, why could they not have spelled the author’s name correctly! There is a further error on page 121 about the Arts and Crafts water tower in Ingleby Arncliffe. One may think such errors are not important but they would have caused AW much grief.

One might also wonder what AW would have thought about the insertion of website addresses in his peerless text, see page 121. This could so easily have been avoided by putting the address with the rest of the ‘Useful Information’ on the last page of the book. And why suddenly name a specific bed & breakfast establishment on page 159 when no other appears in the book?

With A Coast to Coast Walk now revised, Chris Jesty is now turning his attention to the revisions for The Outlying Fells of Lakeland.

reviewed by John Burland - Member No. 2