5 things – My Favourite Guidebook Walks
Here are a selection of the best routes in no particular order that I’ve taken from guidebooks that are largely out of print. The criteria for the routes are the ability to inspire and describe the route in question, to make me want to explore. So the routes chosen had to have some element of story-telling, which meant books like the Welsh Peaks by Poucher are out of it. I can’t think of many recent guidebooks either, though the Pocket Mountain ones up in Scotland are pretty good if light on the narrative I’m looking for.
Of course, sometimes it is down to the actual route having appeal and not so much the literary merit of the guidebook walk at all!
The first three are all from the same guidebook, Ridges of Snowdonia by Steve Ashton and published by Cicerone. The book has hardly changed in content, other than updating essentials, since I first borrowed this from the library in the mid ’80s. That makes me feel old. There’s a route page for each one, but no description unfortunately. You’ll just have to buy the books, and each one mentioned below is a gem. A couple are out of print, but readily available second hand. though some of the prices asked on-line are extortionate as I paid not much more than a fiver for each of my Wild, Classic and Big Walk books.
The Nantlle Ridge – The classic ridge walk without doubt, and he provides the vanilla version from Rhyd Ddu over to Garnedd Coch, over all the best bits and omitting that little upstart – Mynydd Graig Goch. The beauty of this book, and I cannot see why others haven’t followed suit, is that there’s a reasonably clear description of the route and, the inspiration of a personal account of each walk. Read this in mid 80s, did the walk early 90s.
The Moelwynion – Setting off from Dolwyddelan, he takes the route up via the forest and to Llyn y Foel, Daear Ddu and follows the route around to Allt Fawr, before recalling how he managed to get a lift to the start from this point. I’ve done all of this walk, but not the single walk he did that day. Ironically, when I did descend to the Crimea, we also managed to get an unexpected lift to here we started! The route could be improved by continuing onwards over the outlying Moel Farlwyd, Penamnen and finally Y Ro Wen before descending to Dolwyddelan. A longer walk, but much better on the feet than six kilometres of tarmac.
The Rhinogydd – Ashton does, admittedly, do them the easy way. He starts off in Cwm Bychan and then follows the entire ridge to Abermaw (Barmouth). While the walk is well described, there is the issue of returning to the start. Ashton also loses marks for not starting off the route by traversing the badlands between Rhinog Fawr and Moel Ysgyfarnogod. Though starting from Cwm Bychan and turning left for the badlands as opposed to right for the not-Roman Steps is rather masochistic.
Across the Migneint – by Harold Drasdo (p234) in Classic Walks – out of print. I don’t even know why this one’s here. Probably as I think I ought to get out and do it, and partially for the same reason as people run those races with barbed wire and mud. Crossing this area seems like a penance in some ways, though one to keep for either dry or frozen conditions, and possibly with a very wild camp at one of the lonely lakes.
The Lochaber Traverse (p70)- Ken Wilson and Richard Gilbert in Big Walks – out of print. An epic walk if ever there was one. Over The Ben, CMD, Aonach Mor, Beag and finally the Grey Corries; that’s one walk you’d have to try. I did a few springs back, even adding on some more hills above Loch Treig to the first day. Snow did unfortunately put paid to the attempt, but we got the Grey Corries in. This is one to try again in the not too distant future.
The Saddle and the Forcan Ridge (p175) – in Irvine Butterfield’s classic tome – The High Mountains of Britain and Ireland Vol 1. Enigmatically named volume 1 thirty years ago, this is still a standalone volume. The cover of the original had a shot of the Forcan Ridge, with even more impressive images of the walk accompanying the route, which was all I needed. A lofty peak, rocky exposed ridge and plenty of green made it look like somewhere I’d like to walk. Unfortunately, the new book has a new cover – while equally impressive just isn’t the original. Ihave no plans to do this walk any time soon as it’s just too damn far north! Though a week or so in Glen Shiel is nothing to be sniffed at, but I can’t see how it would be practical without driving there. The shot below is the same as the book’s cover, only less green!
Do you have a favourite guide book walk?
Add it below and we may add the best ones to the routes database!