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Last year, the first five volumes of the Freedom to Roam Guides were published; these covered the Pennine areas of Derbyshire (two volumes), the Yorkshire/Lancashire border, the Howarth Moors and the Forest of Bowland. A further four books have now been issued and these, I feel, will prove more popular than their predecessors as they are of the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors, the Three Peaks area and the Howgills.
These are areas much frequented by walkers, particularly the valleys of Wharfedale, Nidderdale and Swaledale. In his Pennine Way Companion,AW described the latter dale as the most beautiful of the Yorkshire Dales. There are a number of existing long-distance routes that pass through these areas – the Pennine Way, Coast to Coast Walk and the Six Dales Hike to name but a few. Whilst some of the walks in these books contain parts of these routes, many of them have made use of the new Right to Roam legislation and take the walker into some breathtaking landscapes previously closed to walkers. This new legislation has increased the amount of land the public can enjoy within the Yorkshire Dales National Park by an astonishing amount, from 4% to 63%, and the aim of the walks in the books is to make the most of these new opportunities.
Each of the books contains twelve walks, all of which are graded for difficulty. Each walk is shown using a full colour Ordnance Survey map for the area of the walk and part of the surrounding countryside; special features and points of interest have been added for the walker’s enjoyment of the countryside and, of course, information on public rights of way and access are included. Like the guides published in 2005, the books also have a number of articles relevant to the areas covered in the book. Some of these are of considerable interest and I particularly enjoyed reading about the formation of the Dalesbus group and how this has led to an increase in the number of people using public transport both to get to and around the Dales – something AW would certainly have welcomed! Other articles include the cheese-making factory in Wensleydale, Kettlewell Youth Hostel that now also performs the function of the village Post Office, the subterranean tunnels of the Yorkshire Water network taking supplies from Greenhow to Bradford, moorland crosses, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, knitting in the Dales and Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk.
Published by Frances Lincoln Limited
reviewed by John Burland - Member No. 2