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back to Book Reviews

Never Mind the Quantocks
by Stuart Maconie

Published by David & Charles
ISBN 978-1446301654

This entertaining and engrossing book is a collection of fifty of the author’s columns in Country Walking, Britain’s bestselling publication for walkers. Through them, the reader gets to know him a little whilst enjoying his accounts of a range of walking experiences – from visiting favourite Lakeland places to pub treks. Society members will identify with many of the situations he writes about.

Stuart Maconie is an Honorary Member of the Wainwright Society, but the book recounts that when he was a young lad, he didn’t have a clue about Wainwright or anything Lakeland-related. It tells how he was bitten by the walking bug early on, after just a few visits to the Lakes, and how he progressed to completion of the 214. The book helpfully includes the full list of Wainwrights for reference purposes.

The book is not a guide to walking, but nevertheless is, in my opinion, a ‘must have’ book for anyone who has an interest in the great outdoors. Topics range extensively, with thoughts on buying the right footwear to making decisions about isotonic drinks or gin and tonic. Stuart recounts amusing tales from his walks through Lakeland, the Pennines, in Dorset, along Hadrian’s Wall and elsewhere, with mentions of such things as a dented flask, pork pies, red squirrels and Goretex snakes.

Not all is light and amusing: there are poignant episodes that brought a lump to my throat, such as the account of when Stuart scattered his dog’s ashes at a favourite spot of theirs on the fells where they had been together.

I would recommend this excellent book to anyone, but it will resonate particularly with those who can picture the scenes depicted from their own experiences – such as when Stuart completed his 214 round on Kirk Fell with friends he has walked with over many years.

Rob Kane – Membership No. 1230