Profile for Mark G. Harris > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Mark G. Harris
Top Reviewer Ranking: 171,227
Helpful Votes: 53

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Mark G. Harris (Chelmsford UK)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1
pixel
The Adlerweg: The Eagle's Way Across the Austrian Tyrol (Mountain Walking) (Cicerone Guides)
The Adlerweg: The Eagle's Way Across the Austrian Tyrol (Mountain Walking) (Cicerone Guides)
by Mike Wells
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Well researched guidebook to the Adlerweg, 10 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a competent and well-researched Cicerone guide to the Adlerweg by Mike Wells. The guide exhibits the trade mark Cicerone qualities: quality maps and photographs, distances, timings, altitudes and altitude profiles. Useful local information, historical background and the occasional note on nature, don’t distract from the basic requirement of a guide to provide the reader with a clear overview and details of the route.

The Adlerweg has a profusion of sometimes confusing variants. Sensibly, Mr Wells has stuck to the main route with details of the key easier alternatives (useful in bad weather) and the more advanced or challenging stages in the Lechtal Alps which will be of interest to the experienced mountain walker if the weather is fine.

The author has decided in his directions not to quote the path numbers of the route and some may find this frustrating since the route numbers figure on both signposts and maps. However, given that he usually quotes both the compass direction and the signposted destination of the route I did not personally find this a problem, though occasionally the number of the path can be a better indicator of the right path than the destination.

The book though published a few years ago is still largely accurate in 2014 with regard to the route. A few minor changes have been made to the route and the non-functioning of the Kaiserlift down to Kufstein (out of action for a couple of years now) may throw some. That said, Cicerone rather efficiently keep route updates on their website and these can be checked prior to setting out.

My only criticism is that I would have liked to see a few accommodation suggestions for some of the villages the route passes through. These aid the walker in finding lodging at the end of a long day. Some accommodation suggestions for the start and end points of the walk would also be useful, as would showing the location of the Youth Hostels on the map of Innsbruck.
These however are minor quibbles and I am happy to give this guide 4 stars.

The walk itself is in my opinion not a great walk when compared to some of the great routes in the Alps. The walk bears all the signs of having been put together by tourist office marketeers rather than mountain walkers. Far too much time is spent on forest tracks and four wheel drive roads. However, the high stages and particularly the Lechtal Alps variants are excellent. The experienced walker will use the Adlerweg as a starting point for his walk and create a better journey by taking a close look at the map. As the author notes the Tyrolean hospitality is excellent.


Walking on Corsica: Long-distance and Short Walks (Cicerone International Walking)
Walking on Corsica: Long-distance and Short Walks (Cicerone International Walking)
by Gillian Price
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent guide to walking in Corsica, 9 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This Cicerone guide written by the experienced guidebook writer Gillian Price is a splendid companion to a walking holiday in Corsica. It covers three long distance footpaths ( Mare e Monti Mare-Mare Nord and Mare-Mare Sud) as well as 18 short day walks. The guide book is in the usual Cicerone format which can be easily slipped into the pocket, though at present it is in the older style without the waterproof plastic cover that characterises more recent editions of the publishers guide books. In addition, to the sections on the walks themselves, there is a good introductory section covering such matters as transport, weather, food and flora & fauna.

The book has useful overview maps, which show the route, accommodation and some key features of each walk. It also has some great photographs, which will inspire you before you set off ( I particularly liked the cover photo of Capu Rossu). Details of relevant accommodation in gîte d'étape, camping grounds and hotels are given complete with telephone numbers. Ms. Price also adds some useful comments on the accommodation both in praise, " refurbished comfortable with lovely terrace" and occasionally dropping a hint that the accommodation has some issues, "run by a cantankerous family". The guide concludes with route summary charts of the three longer paths showing the key points of the route, timings, transport links and accommodation.

The central weakness of the guide for some readers will be the lack of clear detailed route finding directions particularly on some of the more confusing parts of the longer paths. This is always a difficult issue. Some may see little cause for step-by-step route directions when the Corsicans have splashed paint about so liberally. Others will feel that they wish to have their hand held somewhat closer than the author does. Of course, in part this is a problem of space. As the book covers a lot of ground not every path junction and twist and turn can be mentioned in the text. That said there are certainly times when the guide lets one down. This seems to most often occur on the outskirts of settlements and when in pine forest.

My own experience using the guide was that, whilst it was adequate for directions 90% of the time, the lack of detail was at times frustrating. In part this is down to the author's style, which tends to stress plants & flowers before compass direction. She also has a tendency to poetic vagueness in her prose, for example "a pretty cascading side stream with lovely pools is encountered". What the author fails to tell us about this "encounter" is whether this stream is crossed, followed upstream or downstream.

As a tip to walkers it is worth noting that there have been considerable reroutings of paths on Corsica in the last 20 years. In part this has been due to forest fires, but also due to other forestry activity and some restoration and repair work in villages. Current maps may be out of date, old maps certainly are, while one can go astray easily by following old paint markings or local hunters paths rather than the main path. If using the Cicerone guide you can check for updates to the routes on their website.

Overall and despite the criticism above and some minor errors in the route summaries this is an excellent guide and the definitive work in English for the paths mentioned. I used it to walk all three long distance paths in 2013 and would recommend it as an addition to your backpack.


No Title Available

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly manufactured, 5 May 2013
I have often bought boots branded Karrimor in the past and been generally satisfied but not so in this case.

I used a pair of these boots on a summer alpine trip. After two weeks the soles were wearing through and after three weeks the boot's soles were useless. There was also some stitching deterioration on the upper. I was surprised by the sole problem since the soles are Vibram which have never let me down before. When I got home I sent the boots back and they were replaced. The new pair lasted about two weeks of coastal path walking in the UK and then the same problem occurred with the soles. The problem I think is down to the sole not being properly attached/glued to the mid sole. This allows the sole to move independently of the midsole and this is what causes the damage. This is undoubtedly a manufacturing flaw in the construction of the boot rather than a problem with the Vibram sole unit. I suspect it is due to the fact that Karrimor is now just another brand from the Sports Direct stable of "make it cheap in China and never mind the quality" . Avoid this boot.


ASICS Men's Gel Kayano 17 Trainer
ASICS Men's Gel Kayano 17 Trainer

3.0 out of 5 stars Declining Quality, 19 Feb 2013
I have been buying Asics Gel Kayano shoes for years and have owned at least 20 pairs. Undoubtedly an excellent shoe from the point of view of fit for my foot and my running style- the recent versions of the shoe have not been manufactured to the same standard as previous versions. The problem lies with the internal lining of the shoe at the heel. This wears through extremely quickly- in the case of my last pair after just three runs. A small hole appears that gets gradually bigger and eventually maybe after only a month or so of running most of the heel lining wears away. The rest of the shoe is fine and could go on for months. This is a real weakness for a top of the range shoe and one which I hope will be fixed. My earlier versions of the shoe did not suffer from this problem. My current pair of shoes I have repaired with duct tape and extra padding - but I really shouldn't have to do that given the price. Sending the shoes back doesn't help because they will simply be replaced with another pair that wears through in a few days.


The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive
The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive
by Brendon Burchard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Seriously flawed book that fails to deliver, 15 Oct 2012
In "The Charge" Brendon Burchard presents a model of personal development designed to help you lead a more fulfilled, energetic and enjoyable life - "The Charged Life" as he calls it. Whilst most of the content is not new the presentation and the model are a novel way of arranging the material.

In spite of some good content and interesting points the book has a large number of serious flaws and there are many better personal development books on the market. The book's promise sounds good; it falls down when it comes to delivery.

Possibly the most irritating flaw is the authors tendency to sweeping generalisations. For example, "In the most recent eye blink of our history, our human experience and our collective culture have transformed in every imaginable way". Every imaginable way? Unfortunately the author has a tendency to use "universal quantifiers" a lot, thus the book is littered with the authors sweeping generalisations about what "everybody" wants, that "everything" has changed and what we "all" think and feel. Clearly the diversity of our human experience is not something that troubles him.

The author also perpetuates the modern day canard that we are all more and more stressed out due to ever present change in everything. Change which now happens at extreme speed due to technology. He particularly focuses this on the workplace where he argues recent and all consuming change is endemic. Yet surely in reality there are just as many if not more continuities than changes? Is the job of the teacher, dentist, taxi driver, accountant, lawyer, fashion designer, hairdresser, vet, salesman etc. really that different from a few years ago, 10 years ago or even longer? Perhaps the author's only real focus when he talks of the workplace is the middle and upper layers of management in large corporations?

Rather more alarming than these two points are the authors repeated preference for imposing his map of the world upon us. Yes, he is putting forward his model for change but he also seems to put forward his map of what change we want and values we should have. This he does usually in his own sweepingly generalising style. For example, (to have what) "we all want love, security, respect abundance and a career of creativity and meaning." That we all aspire to these things is simple nonsense. I have met many for whom "security" is meaningless - they prefer Helen Keller's dictum that "Security is largely a myth, life is either a daring adventure or nothing". Those who are internally referenced would tend not to be concerned by "respect" while we all know many who would not have a fulfilling career on their wish list!

Although the author makes frequent references to research, science and specifically neuro science in his work he fails to provide any references in the text, in footnotes or at the end of the book (there is no bibliography or suggestions for further reading) as to what this research is, who conducted it and when it occurred. In fact not a single specific research project, scientific researcher or research institution is mentioned or credited in connection with the author's claims. He does mention Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book "Flow" at one point to support a particular assertion but I am not sure that the autotelic personality Csikszentmihalyi talked of has much in common with BB's charged personality.

Perhaps the most annoying flaw in the book and the one which would lead me to tell people new to personal development to look elsewhere is the fact that whilst the author spends much time telling us the whats (What we should be doing) he has very little practical info on the hows (how to do it i.e. what are the tools.) Yes, he has his charge points and activating points but these are again mainly "whats" e.g., "You need to focus on this" is not the same as "hows" e.g. "This is how you develop the skill to focus on this."

Poor editing has also let the author get away with some terrible contradictions, which in places are so brazen that they border on the comical. For example the author waxes on about the need to always "see the good in people", "project positive traits and expectations onto others" and that when you "live your life believing that people are generally good and interesting you will find the good and interesting aspects of every person". He caries on for several pages in this vein exhorting his readers to be positive and ignore the cynics. "It is hard sometimes but you need to do it" However, a few pages later he states, "The sad truth is the world is full of bitter complaining, finger pointing energy vampires who suck all the joy and ambition out of life" If ever there was a case of your own lessons not learnt then surely this is it! Such blatant contradictions seriously undermine some of the valuable points the author is trying to make.

As a final critical point the book is filled with stories from the author's experience meant to serve as inspirational examples. These have a tendency to grate. The author admits in the introduction that these are only loosely based on fact (they are distorted/fictionalised) and given this it is a shame he could not have come up with more elegant, subtle and stylish metaphorical stories. Something I think a more gifted author would have done which would have made a deeper impact on the reader.

Overall BB's model is not simplistic and could be useful in whole or in part, however the shortcomings detailed above (there are many more not detailed!) are such that they are likely to grate on and frustratingly impede the progress of the reader. Of course the book is much hyped but I would invest your money in something else in the personal development field. There are plenty of well written titles out there.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 18, 2014 1:31 PM BST


Tour of the Jungfrau Region: A Two-week Trek in the Bernese Oberland (Cicerone Guides)
Tour of the Jungfrau Region: A Two-week Trek in the Bernese Oberland (Cicerone Guides)
by Kev Reynolds
Edition: Paperback

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent guide to a highlight filled walk, 16 Oct 2007
In this Cicerone Alpine guide published in 2006 Kev Reynolds describes his new route the" Tour of the Jungfrau Region". That word "region" is important - since this is not a circular route around a mountain like the tour of the Matterhorn or Mont Blanc. It is a route in the Bernese Oberland in the vicinity of the Jungfrau. In essence, it involves no new paths, but links together some of the great day walks of the region into a single 107km "highlights" horseshoe route. And what highlights they are! A superb route which provides a virtually continuous panorama of splendid peaks... Jungfrau, Eiger, Monch, Wetterhorn ...the list goes on. The guide, though slim at 125 pages, is packed with information on side trips, alternative bad weather routes, atmospheric accommodation and transport options.

The usual high standards of production, common to many of the modern Cicerone guides, is present here with excellent colour photos, maps and detailed route information. The guide is well laid out and complete with waterproof cover is easily slipped in the pocket. Kev Reynolds easy prose style informs without lecturing whilst his enthusiasm for both walking in general and the route in particular is everywhere evident.

The route is billed on the back cover as a 9 -12 day walk, and on the front cover as a two week walk. Inside Mr Reynolds has itineraries allowing the walk to be completed in either 10 or 6 days. How long it takes will of course depend on each individual walker's favoured pace, but the route is very flexible with no shortage of either accommodation or transport. I walked the route in 7 days in August 2007 which seemed to me a steady unrushed pace, that said, I also spent two days sitting out bad weather in Grindelwald so I could enjoy those views to the full when I resumed the walk.

After my praise for the route and the guide a few words of warning are probably worth adding with regard to the path. It will be busy. Being a walk of highlights in the Bernese Oberland it is certainly not short of walkers or in certain places, like the Kleine Scheidegg, general tourists. There will be few hours on the walk when one is not greeting fellow walkers. That said for me this walk deserves to become a classic.


Walking the French Alps: G.R.5 (Cicerone Mountain Walking)
Walking the French Alps: G.R.5 (Cicerone Mountain Walking)
by Martin Collins
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A sub standard and outdated guide to a classic route., 8 Oct 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This pocket guide, written by Martin Collins, is one of the Cicerone series and is the standard guide in English for the classic traverse of the French Alps from Lake Geneva to Nice- the GR5. The guide covers, in addition to the main route, a number of popular route variations. This version of the guide was according to the fly last reviewed and updated in 2004. I used it in the summer of 2007 whilst walking the route.

Unfortunately, the guide falls well short of the high standards set by Cicerone in a number of their other Alpine guides. To begin with the revision date is highly suspect since the text still mentions the French Franc when the Euro was adopted in 1999! Although this is not a serious problem in itself the section on useful maps is equally outdated, some of the map series mentioned having long ago been superseded, while in the section on photography, digital does not appear to exist. This all leads one to be suspicious about how "up to date" this guide book really is?

The route directions in the text are broadly correct, though the cursory attention to detail, throughout the guide, smacks of sloppiness. Route instructions are often vague and lacking in clarity. On occasion they are simply absent. For some route variations, like the GR52 variant to Menton, it is clear that the author has simply copied the route timings from the French Topo guide with no route detail whatsoever!

The problems of the guide, in part, undoubtedly stem from its length, which is about 25 pages shorter than the Cicerone Chamonix -Zermatt Haute route guide. Yet that route is 180km, while this route is 660km! Surely this superb Alpine traverse warrants a longer treatment?

The old style black and white Maps in the guide are sadly poor and of little use covering as they do up to a weeks walking and therefore lacking useful detail. The Photographs are in need of updating. While the complete absence of telephone numbers for gites and refuges is puzzling- since such info appears in other Cicerone Alpine guides.

If your French is reasonable, I'd suggest buying the French GR Topo guides of the route. If you need a guide in English keep your eyes open for a new and completely revised edition which must surely be due soon!

Good News! After writing this I met in a refuge north of Chamonix Paddy Dillon who is rewriting this guide from scratch for Cicerone with day by day colour mapping and a new set of photos. So look out for a completely new Cicerone route guide to the Alpine GR5 in 2008. I will review this as soon as I get my hands on a copy.


The Tour of Mont Blanc: A Complete Trekking Guide (Cicerone Mountain Walking)
The Tour of Mont Blanc: A Complete Trekking Guide (Cicerone Mountain Walking)
by Kev Reynolds
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched and laid out, 21 Oct 2006
This guide to the TMB is accurate and well researched, with good illustrations and photographs. The shape and construction of the guide make it ideal for slipping in the pocket and its waterproof cover is a sensible though oft neglected feature for a mountain guide book. There was little if any variance on the ground between the guide and the route, when I walked the TMB in 2006, and while the route could be easily walked without a guidebook the guide does enhance the experience of the walk. Of course every walker will have different opinions about which views and places they rate best and as such may disagree with certain statements in the text, however both in terms of layout and the authors knowledgeable style I rated the book very highly.


Page: 1