by Ian Hamilton and Diane Roberts (Vertebrate Publishing, Sheffield)
This is a wonderful book providing a guide to 20 walks in the north of England exploring books and authors.
Sized so it will easily fit in your pocket while out walking, Walking The Literary Landscape ranges across the north from Northumberland to the Lake District, down through the Yorkshire Dales to Lancashire, the Peak District and Cheshire.
The walks feature a wide selection of authors including, as you would expect, Wordsworth in the Lake District at Grasmere and Rydal Water, and The Brontë sisters in Haworth and the moors; this walk takes in Top Withens, the ruined farmhouse that was the inspiration for the Earnshaw family home, Wuthering Heights.
There’s a walk exploring Mam Tor and the Castleton Caverns, where Arthur Conan Doyle set his short story ‘The Terror of Blue John Gap’, and you can trace the footsteps of Bram Stoker in Whitby where he set his most famous creation, Dracula.
The route includes the 199 steps up to Whitby Abbey, which in the novel Mina dashes up in an attempt to save her friend Lucy from the clutches of the vampire.
In lighter mood you can follow James Herriot in and around Thirsk, and Arthur Ransome in the Lake District, where you can also explore the landscape that inspired Beatrix Potter.
Other walks trace the paths of writers from Shakespeare (Henry IV Part 1) to Dickens and Ted Hughes. Hughes was born in Mytholmroyd and the moorland landscape of his childhood provided lifelong inspiration.
Incidentally, the village of Heptonstall is only a few miles further on from the route of the walk and here, in the graveyard extension at St Thomas’s Church, Sylvia Plath is buried. She also wrote about the landscape here, most notably in November Graveyard.
Each walk includes a short introduction to the author’s life and works, with information and anecdotes about their time in the area.
Full directions are provided, together with an OS map on which the route is clearly marked. In short, you get everything you need to enjoy each walk.
In addition, Walking The Literary Landscape is packed with wonderful photographs of the area and key landmarks on the walks.
They remind this southerner of past times walking in the north, and make me want to pull on my walking boots and get back out there. With this book, I know I’ll be in good hands.
Walking The Literary Landscape by Ian Hamilton and Diane Roberts (Vertebrate Publishing, £12.95). Available direct from the enterprising www.v-publishing.co.uk, from good bookshops, and clicking the link below to amazon.co.uk.
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