Review of ‘Enjoying the Peak District’, by Roly Smith

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 25th August 2003, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

ENJOYING THE PEAK DISTRICT
by Roly Smith

This new title from Halsgrove can be enjoyed from an armchair but it is Roly Smith's intention to get you out there into his beloved Peak District. You could have no better guide. Roaming in and beyond the Peak District National Park, Roly offers tempting 'tasters' without stinting on his own enthusiasm for the region's past and present.

Some facts and figures may come as a surprise: more than 50 reservoirs now flood our valleys; the White Peak is thought to contain over 500 tumuli or burial mounds; and modern dating techniques put some of our limestone walls at an astonishing 2,000 years old. The author also points out that the high ground of Kinder and Bleaklow is 'a cold and soggy sub-Arctic wilderness, sharing the same latitude of Siberia or Labrador'.

Another impressive statistic emerges from 'the wildlife showplaces of the Peak', where botanists have recorded up to 54 species of herbs and wild flowers per square metre. Overall, this book has a refreshing up-beat tone. We learn, for example, that improved land management has given increasing security to birds including the merlin, peregrine falcon and golden plover. A welcome improvement on earlier depressing reading of the late 1960s. The author gives encouragement to other ongoing ventures such as farmers' markets and a public transport network which enables visitors to leave their cars at home. Places to visit are brought together as Wonders of the Age and Outdoor pursuits as The Great Escape - after all, the book is all about Enjoying the Peak.

I particularly liked: A Peakland Timeline - a quick reference guide from the 'Stone Ages' through to the Middle Ages, the Industrial Revolution and beyond; information boxes with titles such as The Walls Walk Slowly, or Rarer than the Tiger; and the quality of around 40 fresh and recent colour photographs.

Enjoying the Peak District is published by Halsgrove in association with the Peak District National Park Authority. Widely available in local shops and tourist information centres it costs £6.95. (ISBN 1-84114-276 X)

Review by Julie Bunting


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