Top positive review
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What A Great Year
on 22 October 2013
There have been innumerable guides giving descriptions of walks in Britain, including lots concentrating on wildlife. This well produced, sturdy and handsome book by James Lowen, does something a little different, with suggestions on how to spend 52 weekends watching the best of GB wildlife.
The sites are invariably interesting, the photographs beautiful and the writing, despite the relatively small amount of space the author allows himself, inspirational.
It's not always made immediately clear how likely it is to see the special species described...eg Weekend 24 is headlined "Glamorgan for Fen Orchid..." and there's a big photo of the target plant but reading the walk description carefully... "a 99% decline since 1980...some are off limits..." gives a more realistic appraisal of success than the strapline. This is commendable, as the hopeful weekend naturalist may have travelled a great distance in the hope of spotting the orchid and deserves a fair and realistic estimate of how easy the search will be. Most if not all the site descriptions do give clear appraisals of the chance of success.
There is always a danger in site guides like this that vulnerable species or areas will be too publicised, the only entry I found a bit dubious from this respect was weekend 46 where the wildlife-watcher is advised to drive up and down a raod at night as the best chance to see Wildcats. This seems a bit dangerous for the animal but undoubtedly would give just about the only chance of seeing one without joining a guided walk.
Some of the weekends involve a bit of travelling between two or more rather distant places (eg Walk 7)but I can honestly say that virtually every suggested short break would be a memorable and really rewarding experience.
Well researched and presented this collection of magical weekends would be perfect if only the author would have provided maps for each of the sites. Without them the portable, sturdy format is a bit wasted. Even so, very highly recommended.