Author interview: Norman Taylor, Day Walks in the Peak District
- Monday 4th May 2020
Win Hill summit and Ladybower Reservoir (route 10). © John Coefield.
If you're itching to shake off the lockdown malaise, there no better remedy than taking a walk in the hills ... and you don't have to look too far for inspiration. A new, revised edition of Day Walks in the Peak District by Norman Taylor and Barry Pope will be available from 4 June but, until then, read on to find out what 's new in the 2020 volume and for Norman's perpective on walking and climbing in the Peak District.
This is the second edition of Day Walks in the Peak District. What can we find in this guide that wasn't in the first?
Since changes occur over time, the guide has been updated to take these on board. In certain cases improvements have been made to route descriptions, all of these designed to make the walks easier to follow.
Do you think your family life always informs the routes you choose to explore in the Day Walks books or are you always mindful to write for different audiences and different abilities?
I am very selective about the walks I include in a guide. By a process of elimination from a longer list of potential walks I select those I consider to reflect the most variety and interest. Also, the brief synopsis at the start of each walk description provides guidance at a quick glance as to the sort of walk to expect, the level of stamina that might be needed and any potential difficulties. For instance, a walk described as more of a 'mountain' walk would obviously be more demanding than a walk in the White Peak.
When my first walking guide was published in 1984 there were only a couple of guides available covering the Peak District, and none that were particularly family oriented. This lead to my initiating the Family Walks series of guides for Scarthin Books, whose formula was designed for parents with young children in tow. Since the publication of my first guide and others in the series there has been a proliferation of walking guides published.
Being a climber and walker since your teens, how have you seen the Peak District and people's relationship with it change over time?
Climbing and walking and just visiting the countryside have become much more popular over the last couple of decades. This has resulted in the overuse of some venues which is creating problems with regard to parking. Many more climbers use roadside crags but seldom head for the high moorland crags. With regard to walking, again some footpaths have become heavily used, whilst others adventurous see much less traffic. Perhaps it's the herding instinct.
What do you think are the challenges facing the Peak District over the years to come?
This leads on to the next point concerning the challenges facing the Peak District National Park. The greater numbers of people using the area has been accompanied by a corresponding expansion in road traffic with its associated problems. Hopefully, this will be addressed by creating more and better public transport to and within the Park. With the increase use of footpaths throughout the Peak District footpath repair work will need to be high on the agenda if footpath erosion is to be controlled.
More recently, there has been an encroachment on "footpaths" by some bikers who do not seem to understand that, while it is legitimate for them to ride along tracks and 'Public Bridleways' as designated on OS maps, it is not legitimate to ride on 'Public Footpaths'. The presence of stiles on most footpaths should indicate to those flouting the rules that such paths are not for riding on. Also, the tyres often begin the process of erosion on footpaths that are in good condition.
Your companion on these walks, Barry Pope, sadly passed away before the publication of this second volume. Can you recall your most memorable walk together?
Barry Pope and I, usually in the company of his wife, Maureen, spent many a day exploring the Peak District. One of my most memorable walks with them was from King's Tree at the head of Howden Reservoir to Barrow Stones on Bleaklow. Leaving Barrow Stones we reconnoitred and found by trial and error the most straightforward pathless descent to an easy crossing of the stream that is the source of the River Derwent.