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Cycling in the UK: The Official Guide to the National Cycle Network Paperback – 19 Apr 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
What I was fully expecting, and didn't get, were detailed route maps and directions for all the NCN routes.
What I did get, and didn't want, were huge swathes of photographs of people on bikes, bikes propped up against signposts, occassional landmarks, odd 'artistic' sculptures, people on bikes, more people on bikes, and some attractive landscape shots. Oh, and did I mention the people on bikes?
What Sustrans have produced here is a 303 page, full-colour publicity brochure, which they then have the gall to sell you as a guide, which merely cherry picks Sustrans own choice of routes, of which only a few in each of the nine geographical sections are supported by full maps and details.
To illustrate the problem, take the area where I live; The Wirral, Merseyside. The 'guide' includes this in its 'Northern' section; an area stretching from Chester to Berwick (South-North) and Scarborough to Barrow (East to West), a not inconsequential chunk of geography. Yet, out the 18 chosen routes in this vast area, ranging in length from 3 miles to 26 (average length just - 11 miles) only 6 routes, totaling just 96 miles, are supported by full maps and details. One of the chosen routes not supported with maps and details, a route of 18 miles no less, is dismissed in just 85 words, including the useful closing phrase, "... before continuing to the delights of Scarborough's Victorian Seafront - and a well-earned cup of tea". Thanks for that Sustrans.Read more ›
But the mapping (which is not provided for all routes) is wholly inadequate, and the absence of sufficient National Cycle Network signs on the ground - after the midway point, I saw none - makes significant parts of the ride a confusing, halting progression of short rides punctuated by stops to peer at the map, often with little chance of finding the route again. I am experienced at map reading, but went astray quite a few times, especially in the section between Warsash and Lee-on-Solent, where the ride heads inland and through fields for a few miles. At one point the route was barred by a fence and it took me a while to figure out that the fence shouldn't be there and climb over it (bike and all). Much of the time I found it easier to follw the 'Solent Walk' signs, together with my own knowledge of the Solent area based on sailing there!
One might argue that - inadequate mapping aside - none of this is the book's fault. But it is the 'official' guide, supported by Sustrans and it strikes me that they need to think harder about how the book and the reality work together. One might also argue that Sustrans publish detailed route maps which I could also use. They do, but not for this route.Read more ›