Review of ‘Titles for Summer Reading’, by Various Authors

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.

by Various Authors

Full marks for good timing to these five new titles. Between them they offer suggested outings, routes to ramble, pubs and eateries to enjoy, and an important survey of 'Devil's darning needles'.

Published by Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire Entomological Society

Taking the last topic first, we are privileged to be given an exclusive review of Dragonflies in Derbyshire - Status and Distribution 1977-2000. Co-authored by Rod Dunn and Dave Budworth, this is the result of a 24-year survey into these ethereal and beautiful insects.

It so happens that the world's oldest dragonfly fossil was discovered in a Derbyshire coal mine, though for some reason not a single living species was recorded in the county in 1900. Yet by the end of the Dunn & Budworth survey, over 5,000 species records had been compiled, so the population now looks healthy. One disturbing conclusion suggests the influence of global warming, one of the factors which will make this survey a valuable record for future comparisons.

ISBN 1-85306-901-9 (2005)

Charles Wildgoose of Darley Dale, an active member of Derbyshire Dales Group of the Ramblers' Association, has collaborated with Roger Fox of Lincolnshire to compile Pub Walks for Motorists - Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. Forty walks are split between these three counties and range from around 3 to 8 miles, some challenging, some 'a little testing' and some a doddle. The refreshment stops share one essential common theme in that they are all 'walker friendly'.

Sketch maps and text provide extra help for readers with the common complaint described here as 'navigational nervousness'. The routes take in castles and canals, bluebell woods, ancient deer parks and medieval field systems, a minster renowned for its stunning carved stonework, and literary links to the likes of Byron and D.H. Lawrence. Sample menus are a definite added temptation (children and vegetarians not forgotten) and those who haven't drawn the short straw for driving home can enjoy the thoroughly researched liquid rewards of a good walk - Messrs Wildgoose and Fox have lovingly recorded over 40 beers and breweries!

by Andrew McCloy
Published by Halsgrove (2005)

Author Andrew McCloy is a self-confessed avid pub-goer and his latest book, Peakland Pubs - A Pint-Sized History, is an enthusiastic celebration of the heritage of public houses from every corner of the Peak. But this is far more than a toast to the foaming pint for, remarkably, it tells us something about the history of just about every pub across the region. And if you are nostalgic for a favourite drinking den lost to progress, it is almost sure to be in the author's 'sorry stagger' around lost pubs.

The book covers Roman alehouses, pilgrims, this or that royal head seen on so many different inn signs, Dr Johnson - who loved 'the country liquor, Derbyshire ale, if you please ...' - and a still licensed establishment that was once a house of (very) ill repute. The Bonking Donkey is another story altogether.

Andrew has found pubs boasting ghost stories, murders, legends, toe- wrestling, and a UFO-spotters club. As he remarks: 'It's surprising what sometimes lurks inside other ostensibly unremarkable-looking pubs.' And that even extends to a skull.

This definitely larger than pint-sized collection is bang up-to-date, with masses of local history interest and odd stories to justify the longest pub- crawl ever undertaken in the name of research!

Editor's Note:
Just in case anyone thinks otherwise, The Bonking Donkey was a nickname given to a certain local establishment, which (I believe) was subsequently been renamed…

Published by Travel Publishing
ISBN 1-904-43418-5 (2005)

Author Barbara Vesey has sought out the more secluded and less familiar attractions for the new edition of The Hidden Places of The Peak District and Derbyshire. Her explorations are wide ranging with an ambitious amount of research packed into a book of this size and price. She looks at oddities from an Alpine-style village to Dr Johnson's chair to a connection with the first man to cross the English Channel.

The generous number of colour photographs and maps deserves special mention, as does the ease of flicking to different chapters by means of coloured and 'tabbed' page margins, splitting the areas of the title into six regions.

An A-Y index suggests places to visit, as low profile as Abney and as well known as Youlgreave, interspersed with historical information and details of local attractions, accommodation and refreshment stops.

Anyone staying in the area will find this book an invaluable guide - especially if used alongside Pub Walks for Motorists and/or Peakland Pubs (see above).

by Richard Felix
Published by Breedon Books
ISBN 1-85983-478-7 (2005)

The author of The Ghost Tour of Great Britain - Derbyshire is Richard Felix, star of the creepy 'Most Haunted' television programme. He describes this part of the country as a ghost- hunter's paradise. A place ripe with legends of goblins, witches and boggarts, its rich history has long provided the perfect backdrop for such mythology to thrive. Investigations in the Peak have drawn the author to prehistoric stone circles, a famous old inn and a stately family home.

This new hard-back title brings first-hand accounts of eerie visitations and paranormal experiences, supported by photographs of haunted sites. Chilling stories are bolstered by actual accounts of ghosts and each chapter explores mysterious events often hard to pass off as mere coincidence.

Richard Felix has attempted to uncover explanations for each incident by researching library archives and interviewing credible witnesses, historians, psychics and parapsychologists.

The Ghost Tour begins with chapters entitled Ghosts and How to Find Them and Is Anybody There? Also included is a beginner's guide to ghost hunting and a glossary of supernatural terminology.

Reviews by Julie Bunting

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