Top positive review
32 people found this helpful
Good , unless you 'wild' camp.
on 7 October 2008
I walked the SUW in mid-September, 2008, using this guide, together with O.S. Landranger maps. My aim was to 'wild' camp for most nights.
First of all, if you are going to B&B the SUW, then this book is worth 5 stars. The O.S. mapping it uses, and the quality of path description, are excellent. The author anticipates where we might go wrong, and warns us accordingly. He explains how the route can be split into stages that transport can get to, if you need lifts.
The author indicates the O.S. maps you need, but I'll save you £6.99 by telling you that Landranger map 74 isn't in fact needed due to the overlap of maps either side.
There is some historical background (though nearly all of it is about religious bigotry 500 years ago - so some things never change!), to add interest, and lots of general guidance for the less experienced.
It fits into a map-case, as a double spread, and is printed on good quality paper, with a laminated cover.
I found the distances within stages, and cumulative distances very useful when checking progress.
However, as a book for 'wild' campers it was somewhat lacking.
Firstly, we need to know exactly what facilities a village has, and when they are open. Yes, information gets out of date, but so do path instructions, and guides need regular revisions. It is not very helpful to be told that a village has B&B accomodation, because that doesn't then go on to say 'but no other facilities'. We campers need to know that.
We need to know when pubs open, as they are a main source of water and snacks. We need to know if a town has an 'Outdoor' type shop - to replace spent gas cartridges, replace worn walking socks, etc.
We also needed to know that the first half (Portpatrick to Moffat)is seriously boggy in many places, except after a long dry spell - so we can take more changes of socks! The best boots in the world would not have kept my feet dry, so I was forced to seek B&B accommodation on nights 3 and 6 in order to get kit washed and dried.
On the subject of accommodation, I still think that a list of establishments recommended by walkers would be a good idea. This works well in the Guide produced by the South West Coast Path Association, my 'local' long distance walk. Yes, they come and go, but if you soak your computer printout of your research that you did before you set out, you're stuffed! Campsites certainly don't change often. It would have been helpful to know that the campsite in Melrose is only open for 4 months of the year, for instance, before I arrived in mid-September to find camping not allowed.
I used a Trailblazer guide for Wainwright's Coast-to-Coast, and it had all of the above points sorted!
To start you off on your accommodation research, I will strongly recommend the two establishments that I stayed at: The Porridge House in St. John's Town of Dalry, and Blairdrummond House in Moffat. Both washed and dried my seriously smelly clothes, and fed me well. Both are very close to evening food. The latter was so amazing that I stayed 2 nights, and they even dried my tent! The best B&B I have ever stayed in, and I have stayed in dozens and dozens.
I recommend the walk, and the book.