Though Paul Hannon dedicates his book to Coast to Coasters, especially his good friend Pete, this pocket size guide is virtually dedicated to Wainwright. In tribute he has preferred to update the great man's work, a more useful memorial to him than a cairn or a "Wainwright Tarn".
The recently updated 2000 edition of this guide documents the changes which have taken place since Wainwright's time, inevitable in the evolving English landscape: hedges ripped out, new stiles, path diversions to accommodate the wishes of landowners. Where the original route found itself on increasingly dangerous modern roads Hannon has pointed out desirable footpath alternatives.
Hannon is an enthusiast. He uses hyperbole to describe the landscape of the walk - "our small but perfectly formed land ... magnificent strides through some of the grandest scenery of the North ... glorious Swaledale ... so much magic in so little space."
Here you are in the hands not of the old master himself, with his stern though entertaining eccentricities, but of one of his pupils, up-to-date, lively, flexible and very well schooled. Compared to the intricate delicacy of Wainwright's illustrations Hannon's have a certain austerity, but his diagrams are clear and his instructions precise. There is a catalogue of useful addresses, organisations which would have raised Wainwright's eyebrow; they shuffle minibuses along the route, ferrying rucksacks and even temporarily weary walkers from stage to stage. Our coast2coast web site is also mentioned !
There are helpful alternatives for splitting the walk into stages to suit a variety of walkers' preferences. The index is good for rapid cross-reference, and a neat touch are the spaces left for you to add your own important notes: accommodation details, memory joggers, mementos, a list of the pubs you've visited!
Hannon has sensibly not attempted to imitate Wainwright's humour, but he has included nuggets of information in panels of commentary alongside the way-finding instructions; see, for example, page 35 for an account of Moses' Trod. He has his own line in snappy criticism; a Swaledale shooters' track, for instance, is "a deplorable eyesore". And along the way there are good prompts for you to deviate from the footsteps of the 25,000 pairs of boots striding ahead each year.
Paul Hannon is an uplifting companion for you on your long walk, light hearted, informative, occasionally amusing, always enthusiastic. If you enjoy your Coast to Coast half as much as he does you'll talk about it for the rest of your life.
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