Review of ‘Alison Uttley's Country Walks’, by Freda Bayles and Janet Ede

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

by Freda Bayles and Janet Ede
Published by Darran Publishing
ISBN 09525763-4-1 (2007)

Compiled by Freda Bayles and Janet Ede, this title was first published in 1995 and has been revised and reissued by popular request. It offers four guided walks around Cromford, Lea and Holloway. Cromford was the childhood home of Alison Uttley, famous old girl of Lady Manners School and author of much-loved works including The Country Child and the Little Grey Rabbit books.

An account of Uttley's life and her own memories give special interest to the walks, whether meandering through Bilberry Wood and down Boggarts Lane, crossing over stepping stones and an old packhorse bridge, or walking the Cromford Canal towpath with its wharf, towering pumphouse and historic aqueduct. The routes take us close to the homes of Florence Nightingale and the ill-fated Anthony Babington, past a one-time village hospital set up by hydropathic pioneer John Smedley, and a 19th-century hat factory. We are led through shady woods that the young Alison Uttley knew well: '... the looming shapes in the dusk were menacing and threatening on the homeward journey from school'. She imagined herself as 'Red Riding Hood in her cloak, carrying the lantern she had left hidden on the morning journey, aware of the sharp eyes of the woodland creatures watching her.'

To follow in her footsteps is to recall her thoughts on reaching home - 'a returned traveller who had seen another world of beauty and tranquility.'

Review by Julie Bunting

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