Review of ‘An Accessible Wilderness’, by Jenny Edgar

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 1st August 2005, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

AN ACCESSIBLE WILDERNESS
Life at Stanage and the North Lees Estate

This area of the Peak means a great deal to many people. Its natural history is diverse, the scenery magnificent, the walking either brisk or level according to choice, and the rock climbing unparalleled.

An Accessible Wilderness, edited by Jenny Edgar, is therefore an apt title to capture the story of Stanage and the North Lees Estate, recalled through the memories of both local people and visitors.

Delightfully unaffected tales are told by those whose families have been known in this part of the Peak for hundreds of years. Thus we learn of George who 'wasn't one hundred percent'; Pam who was 'a cracker'; the village lamplighter; the ballroom-dancing farmer; taps which flowed with fish, worms and tadpoles; and outside toilets - 'There were eight of us and the next-door neighbours had eight, all men, but we all shared the same toilet.'

Even a family of 11 children was not unusual, all delivered without the benefit of a doctor or nurse. Mother, incidentally, baked all her own bread and father grew all the family's vegetables. As one lady says: `We were organic before it became fashionable'.

Stanage was one of the very first areas to be used for rock climbing and is still the Mecca for climbers the world over. Today's enthusiasts will be captivated by this book, returning to a time when climbers came equipped only with gardening gloves and their mothers' washing lines.

An Accessible Wilderness is, however, sure to appeal to a far wider readership of country lovers. Published by Derbyshire County Council and the Peak District National Park Authority, the book is on sale locally priced £4.99 (ISBN 0-903463-73-3)

Review by Julie Bunting


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