Since starting out as a walker there has been an exponential increase in books on the subject and l feel it would be worthwhile to highlight ones that l can recommend or value for background information. The aforementioned Wainwrights take pride of place and in a similar vein his disciple Mark Richards has done a similar job for the Peak District with his three volumes “High Peak Walks”, “White Peak Walks Southern Dales” and “White Peak Walks Northern Dales”. The books produced by the SMC give a full cover of Scotland but with little background and for this read anything by Tom Weir or older books by Seton Gordon. Mike Harding’s “Walking the Dales” and “Walking the Peak and Pennines” manages to capture the heart and soul of these fine areas.
Some time ago Ken Wilson and Richard Gilbert produced two coffee table books titled “Classic Walks” and “The Big Walks” on Diadem Books and these provide a lifetime of walks in the UK and Eire for fit walkers. Less common books which are worth having are Des Hannigan’s “Ancient Tracks” and Nick Channer’s “Untrodden Ways” which as the title suggest takes the walker into less frequented areas. Cicerone continue to produce guides of quality but for me the best two guide books on long distance walks are “The Alternative Pennine Way” and “The Alternative Coast to Coast” by Denis Brook and Paul Hinchcliffe which combine good route descriptions on neglected paths with super background information. In my own areas Iain Brown recently had published “The North Pennines, Legend and Landscape” (a great effort where he took a year off work to write and publish) whilst the same area is also covered by David Bellamy and Brendan Quayle’s “England’s Last Wilderness”. I also admire Geoffrey N. Wright’s “Roads and Trackways of the Yorkshire Dales” and his book on the Northumbrian Uplands.
To get a picture of walking prewar search out books by Vagabond on the North East of England, Alfred Brown on Yorkshire and William T. Palmer’s superb books from the early 1900s often with beautiful illustrations. I appreciate that any such as Crossings Dartmoor and those by William Condry on Wales are mentioned in passing but the books mentioned are those that have influenced me and obviously have a northern bias. I have not included books on National Trails, where Trailblazer Books are currently setting the pace. My favourite National Trail is Offas Dyke but more of that and the Pennine Way (which l am closely involved with) will be the subject of a separate piece at some time in the future.