Review of ‘Freedom to Roam Peak District Guides’, 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 28th March 2005, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by Roly Smith
ISBN 0-7112-2499-4 (NW) and ISBN 0-7112-2498-6 (SE) (2005)

A new series of walking guides relates to the recently acquired legal right of access known as Freedom to Roam. Published by Frances Lincoln with the Ramblers’ Association, the series includes two Peak District guides written by Roly Smith. They encompass ‘Eastern Moors and the South’ and ‘Northern and Western Moors’.

Without the need for stile-by-stile, gate-by-gate instructions along established public footpaths, these guides leave the old beaten tracks to make the most of this new freedom. Illustrated with superb colour photographs by Ray Manley, each Peak District edition contains 12 walks in glorious countryside which, legally, has previously been out of bounds.

It is fair to say that these are walkers’ walks, graded for difficulty, and not easy strolls of half an hour in the fresh air. Between 5 and 12 miles long, they do require some experience of hill walking and map-reading. While there are several 5-mile suggestions, the most challenging routes are acknowledged as very tough, perhaps with ankle-sucking bogs ‘to boot’.

Each entry has a 4-colour Ordnance Survey map, though walkers are advised to take along a 1:25 000 OS Explorer map and a compass. The chapters are interspersed with general descriptions of the landscape and wildlife plus lots of historical information under headings such as The mystery of Carl Wark, The adders’ dance, The Battle of Win Hill, and Hannah’s legacy (but is it correct that Hannah has no plaque at Alport Castles Farm?).

As author of 40 books on walking and the countryside, Roly Smith knows the practical essentials of a walking guide. Features which make these a pleasure to use are the size - 17 x 11 x 1 cm, stiff glossy covers and tough spine, colour coded page borders, an index and an overview map showing all the walks. Series editor Andrew Bibby gives advice on using the guides and explains what you can and can’t do on access land.

Review by Julie Bunting

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