BOOK REVIEW

Cover of Dales book - 9k JPG Yorkshire Dales & Moors:
Youth Hosteller's Walking Guide

by Martin Hanks
pub. Landmark Publishing, 1997
Paperback, 208pp, 7.99
ISBN 1 901522 41 5

'Yorkshire Dales and Moors' is one of a number of similar 'walking map' guides (some other in the series are listed below), published in association with the YHA and designed for those who like to walk and cycle around Britain's countryside.

About 40 dales and moors walks are featured with 76 easy to follow maps [see an example]; either in the area 'around' a hostel, or 'between' YHA hostels. Each of these walks has a separate text entry describing the route technically - stile to the left, climb over gate, and so on - along with a reference to an OS Outdoor Leisure Map where it is relevant. What is missing from the substance of this text entries is any interpretation of the landscape as Wainwright would have given. For example, on page 58 is a walk between Helmsley and Rievaulx. The accompanying text barely gives the famous Rievaulx Abbey a mention, and yet elsewhere (in Ravenstonedale) there's mention of the village possessing a bookshop devoted to industrial and railway history. An odd set of priorities as far as this reviewer is concerned. Still, the Guide isn't without it's merits...

The pages are liberally sprinkled with pen and ink drawings by Martyn Hanks (the author, who also has close associations with the YHA), of local scenes relevant to a particular walk, including sketches of some of the hostels, along with their phone numbers. A nice touch which means you don't have to take your eyes off the map in order to rummage around an index to find that all-important phone number ensuring a roof over your head for the night. There is also a full list of the local Dales' and Moors' hostels at the back of the Guide, giving details of accommodation available at each hostel, directions to get there, and descriptions of what to expect at the location. Reminders here and there recommend that walkers carry an OS map on the higher level (more difficult) walks, and that such walks should not be tackled in bad weather.

The maps themselves are ideal for those who have difficulty deciphering OS maps; featuring hand notated additions such as 'food store', 'cafe' and 'shelter', as well as gates, stiles and good viewpoints. There's even a fish and chip shop identified on one map, and a cycle shop identified in Settle. Now try and get that level of detail off an OS map!

The Guide is a handy A5 size and should slip easily into the pocket of an outdoor jacket, and has the advantage of not requiring the walker to unfold a map only to have a gust of Yorkshire's finest inclement wind carry it away into the distance. Being a paperback, one of those plastic protective covers might be a useful addition.

The other big plus about the Guide is that it carries a 'Free Overnight Voucher'. This can be redeemed at the Youth Hostel you are visiting for a free overnight stay, up to a maximum value of 10. With the price of the Guide pitched at 7.99 this effectively means you're getting it for nothing if you stay overnight at a YHA hostel. Incidentally, some of the Guide's introductory text points out that you don't have to be a 'youth' to use YHA hostel facilities, and that older folks are welcome. Although, if you're one of those travellers who cannot do without the creature comforts of life - a little room service or a sauna perhaps - then the YHA experience might not be for you.

~
Other northern YHA walking guides available are:
Lake District: Youth Hosteller's Walking Guide
Peak District: Youth Hosteller's Walking Guide
These two titles also include YHA vouchers worth 12 (for your annual membership), and a similar 10 'Free Overnight Voucher'. And, along with the 'reviewed Yorkshire Dales and Moors' guide, can be ordered on-line.

Landmark Publishing also has Guides for Cornwall, Devon, Jersey, the Peak District, Dorset, Guernsey, Cotswolds & Shakespeare Country, Scotland, Hampshire & Isle of Wight.

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