by John Gillham & Ronald Turnbull
pub. David & Charles, 2000
Hardback, 160 pages, £19.99
ISBN 0 7153 0955 2
So you like to walk? Well how about a walk near a bit of Britain's coastline - or rather, two bits? In fact, how about taking a hike from one British coast to another? Well John Gillham and Ronald Turnbull's 'Coast-to-Coasting' provides just that! Offering you the routes of eight coast-to-coast walks - from the Bristol Channel to the Irish Sea for example, the Solway to the North Sea, or Wainwright's famous coast-to-coast route from the North Sea to the Irish Sea.
Both the authors are experienced members of the Outdoor Writers' Guild, and frequently bring their trail-weary knowledge to the pages. The two writers split the work between them - although it's not altogether clear which of the two authors tackles which walk - apart from John Gillham's occasional reference to his wife within the text.
Each of the eight walks carries a brief pre-amble which describes the idea or concept behind the route, before launching into a personalised account of traversing the terrain and route. We are told, for example, that: 'The sun wasn't shining in Mallaig. But then, it usually doesn't.' Only a veteran foot-slogger or local resident could tell you that. And on the Lakeland to Lindisfarne walk there is an appreciative bit of fun poked at Wainwright: ' "A coast-to-coast across the Lake District and the Pennines to the North Sea? Wainwright's already done it," I hear you say. But why should Wainwright have all the fun, steal all the best bits...?'
Accompanying each walk are keyed route maps ['...described so as to be traced on a walkers' map', we are told] with the physical stage descriptions, plus cumulative distance charts indicating whether accommodation, food and shops are available in the village or town waypoint. Notes are given on OS maps covering the route, any recommended guidebooks which exist to help, transportation details, and local TICs.
In their Introduction the authors say that the routes have been designed for those who like their creature comforts, and prefer not to sleep in a tent. Interestingly, they also also encourage their readers to spend money in the local B&Bs and shops - reminding us that many areas depend on passing tourist income. Good for them!
Gillham and Turnbull's book is copiously illustrated with photographs - some of them picture postcard, other not quite so. As a large hardback this is not the sort of tome to carry on your walks, but one to peruse beforehand. It is, however, a book to inspire the imagination of seasoned and novice [but not too inexperienced] walkers alike. Above all it will provide the basis for eight exhilarating walks which: 'start at the sea... end at the sea... and go all the way across.''