If you enjoy walking, the natural environment, Julia Bradbury's breezy presentation and/or the industrial heritage of the UK, then this neat little series is hard to resist. Might even drag you off the sofa and out into the wilds...
This series of four walks is a little different in format to Bradbury's previous rambles. The backdrop of canal towpaths brings a definite theme of industrial and social history to these programmes. So if you're interested in how Britain's canal network was built and how it affected our country during the industrial revolution, before rail took over and when most goods were transported by boat, then this DVD is fascinating.
Each episode sees Julia bounding along a towpath, following the route of four famous canals in Wales, Scotland, the midlands and the south-west. Towpaths are typically on level, well maintained ground so we don't see Julia scrambling up rocky outcrops, although there's plenty of steps to climb at some of the spectacular lock ladders. These short routes would all be suitable for occasional walkers rather than experienced ramblers, so it's possible that some folk will find them pretty tame compared to the likes of Wainwright's walks. However, this also makes the canal walks suitable for family groups or people who aren't fully fit. The routes themselves are also easier to follow than challenging mountain treks which demand map-reading skills - you just pick your canal and follow the towpath!
As with earlier series, Julia meets local historians, workers and enthusiasts, who explain how the architectural challenges of construction were accomplished and how the canal network is maintained today, giving an overview of how the waterways fit into their surrounding environment now, and how they influenced local development over the decades. Some of the building works were staggeringly ambitious and probably couldn't be accomplished today (and even in the 18th century they over-ran on budget and time constraints!).
If you actually want to go on some of these walks yourself then I recommend you pick up the book (Canal Walks
) which goes into greater detail and is really useful for planning your trek. The DVD gives an excellent introduction to the UK's canal network; Bradbury's presentation is lively, informative and invigorating. So even if you have no intention of leaving the sofa, the programmes should provide enjoyable entertainment.