Great Mountain Days in the Pennines

Book review: 50 classic Hillwalking Challenges in the Pennines by Terry Marsh

This is a first for me, I will attempt to review a walking book! At the beginning of this summer publishing company Cicerone sent me a book called “Great Mountain Days in the Pennines” by Terry Marsh. I must say, despite looking forward to the offer to review it I didn’t know if I would have time to use the book and try out some of the walks. You might have noticed, I haven’t been really assiduous in writing on this blog lately. It’s a combination of various factors, mainly trying to balance my new working life with my family life. Anyway as this is an exercise I have never done, please bear with me and I hope to be as impartial as possible.

The Review

As far as walking books go, there is always one problem with them – they are bulky and are not meant for walking with. However they need to be inspirational. They are the base for planning a new walk and wanting to discover a new place. At the end of the day, it’s the author’s enthusiasm and experience that counts. And Terry Marsh has definitely succeeded in that with this book. Terry tells us in his introduction:

“I first explored the Pennines in their entirety more than 20 years ago. I’ve just done it again with a joyous spring in every step… Well, almost every one”

So he is setting up the atmosphere for us. Walking in the Pennines, the area also known as the back bone of England, is not as easy as one might think. And yes, despite what people might think, these are mountains, not teletubby-like slow rolling hills. However as Marsh points out:

“Geographers would tell you that the Pennines are neither a chain nor a range of mountains, but simply a broad uplift”

It seems difficult to define the Pennines as one entity and it’s probably why this book is divided in five distinct areas – from North to South:

  • North Pennines = 8 walks
  • North West Dales – Eden Valley and the Howgills = 7 walks
  • Yorkshire Dales = 16 walks
  • South Pennines = 13 walks
  • Dark Peak = 6 walks

Map of the walks

Of course to me, the most important ones are in Yorkshire 🙂 As explained before I didn’t know if I would have time to try many of them – certainly not all of them! And what I feared happened, after all I’ve only managed to do one walk, No 31 Rombalds Moor and Ilkley Moor. You can find the route map and some pictures below:

Rombalds Moor & Ilkley Moor route details on Walk4Life

This walk is kind of a classic and includes almost all the “big” features of Ilkley Moor (the Swastika Stone, the Twelve Apostles and White Wells for example) and you’ll even find two trig points and a summit  for those who are into “hill bagging”. And as for all the walks included in this book, it can be done in half a day. What I really appreciated though is that the walk description in the book is up-to-date with the latest path improvements Pennine Prospects brought to the area. It was quite useful because my old O.S. map was not up-to-date.

To Sum Up:

What I Liked

Good illustrations and great pictures Up to date (2013) Good walk descriptions a useful “Route information” included with all walks (distance, height gain, time, grade, start grid point, parking, maps, toilets, refreshments)

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What I didn’t like

Book is too big to take on the walk O.S. maps are 1/50,000 not 1/25,000 No indications about getting there using public transport

For more information about this book and its author, see Terry Marsh biography on Cicerone’s website.

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