Despite working for a website that publishes regular Route Cards I am still a big fan of buying guidebooks to individual areas. Paul Besley's Dark Peak Walks has been a personal favourite over the past few years, with its selection of interesting and alternative route choices that have led me to all sorts of places - many of which I would have been unlikely to have visited without it. With that in mind I was excited to hear about the arrival of his next guidebook - Walking In the Peak District, White Peak East - as it would give me a good excuse to explore yet more bits of the Peak I haven't been before.
White Peak East covers a large area all the way from Hope in the north to Ashbourne in the south, stretching as far west as Tideswell, Blackwell and Monyash. Within the book's introduction the author paints a picture of the area's ambience, which contrasts greatly with its darker neighbour to the north. In the White Peak you can expect a slightly slower pace, with deep dales and lazy rivers, beautiful meadows and endless wildflowers. It's not a place to rush, it's a place to stroll, and that - in my eyes - captures the heart of what it is to walk here.
In total there are 42 walks, which vary in length from four to 42 miles - all of which are outlined in the appendix, which is a great resource when it comes to finding a route which suits the distance/duration that you're after. Of these walks 35 are circular in nature, while the remaining seven are linear. Each route uses 1:50,000 OS mapping (aside from the long distance routes, which use 1:100,000) to outline the route alongside Paul's idiosyncratic descriptions, which are both informative and easy to follow, covering not just the ground you're moving across but also what's around it - the geology, the history and even the art. It's these additional details that make it more than just a guidebook to the walks: it's an insight into the heart and soul of the area you're immersed in.
The format will be familiar to many, as it is consistent with all Cicerone's latest offerings. As a result, the beginning of each walk outlines all the key information from start/finish, distance/duration, height gain/elevation, time, terrain, refreshments and finally where to park. After this there's a short, single paragraph summary of what to expect. When it comes to the routes, it is noticeable that the author has obviously spent a lot of time taking each into consideration. The Calver to Great Longstone walk is a good example of this, as it takes a few twists and turns that you would have likely missed if you'd planned the route from the map alone. I found these often turned out to be the most special parts of the walk, passing through small woodland glades or wildflower meadows which you'd have been unlikely to have gone through without prior knowledge or advice.
When it comes to walking in the Peak District it tends to be the Dark Peak and its gritstone edges that receive the lion's share of the attention. For those in search of something a little different and a little slower - but no less stunning - the White Peak is full of hidden gems, not just in terms of the walking, but also in terms of wildlife and history. All these attractions are outlined in this book. Dark Peak Walks set a high standard, but White Peak East has - in my opinion - raised it once again, and I for one can't wait to see its companion guide to the White Peak West when it is released next year.
- For more info see cicerone.co.uk