Tuesday, 9 March 2010
By far the best way to get to know a place is through walking. The North has produced some especially famous pedestrians: my great Lakeland namesake, for example, and his predecessors Mountford Baddeley and William Poucher. The latter drew routes on photographs which he waited hours to take, to get the best possible light. He was helped in this by his job as a senior research chemist for Yardley, whose cosmetic products he sometimes wore as extra protection against the cold. There's more in True North, plus a paen to Benny Rothman, the great trespasser, whose buoyant good humour contrasted with the dourness of Wainwright, whose lightness of touch was confined to his writing. I quail and retreat at the task of listing all the walking guides which have influenced True North. There are scores of them. Nay, hundreds. Click on the picture above of just some of my regulars and note the regularity of the word 'pub.' Without one of these, no walk is complete.
I don't bang on too much in the book about the Grade 1 countryside such as the Lakes and Dales, for the simple reason that so many other people have done that, many of them brilliantly. Instead, I've tried to highlight the joys and interest of walking in cities, towns and connurbations. So here's a big thankyou to Walks around Red Brick by Maurice Beresford (Leeds University Press 1980). Anything by Maurice Beresford is worth reading and re-reading). His book deals with Leeds. A comparable study for York is A Walk around the Snickelways of York by Mark W Jones (1983 and often republished). Snickelway is Yorkese for what we in Leeds call a ginnel and Londoners an alley, or occasionally, if not versed in medicine, a back passage. Another good guide is Walk the Kirklees Way by Nigel Patrick and Peter Williamson (Huddersfield Examiner 2002). I also like Footpaths of Leeds Book 2 by Hilary and Peter Dyson (Leeds Civic Trust 1998), which wends through the suburbs, often scorned but crammed with the fascinating and unexpected.