Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Excellent range of walks for all abilities through the best of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean
on 30 January 2015
As a keen walker and 'local' living in the Wye Valley/Forest of Dean, I was very keen to accept the invitation from Pathfinder Guides to review their range of local walking guides, particularly as I have previously written area guides and walk routes myself and know the local area and its footpaths well.
The book includes 28 walks of varying difficulty starting with a 2.5 mile walk of 1.5 hours around White Castle through to the 10.5m strenuous hike around Hay Bluff, part of the Black Mountains range. Although described as 'Wye Valley and Forest of Dean' walks, neither of these, nor the 'Sugar Loaf' route (more suited to the Brecon Beacons area), are actually within the typically-defined area of the Wye Valley but they add variety to the book and include very different terrains from flat, easy and gentle to a tougher hill-walk in the mountainous Welsh borders.
The range of walks are varied and cover the mid-Wye Valley southwards from Hay-on-Wye following the route of the Wye to Ross-on-Wye and Goodrich then into the Lower Wye Valley down to Chepstow where the Wye flows into the Severn Estuary and heads for the sea. No walks book in this area would be complete without including the many quiet woodland footpaths of the adjacent Forest of Dean and some of the best have been included.
The book is laid out well with walks grouped by distance up to 2.5 hours, 3-3.5 hours and the longer walks of 4 hours or more, all of which are easily identified by a colour tab for quick reference. Routes can be selected at a glance from a map of the area and this is followed by an 'at a glance' summary page of each route listing distance, time, height gain (important for those of us less keen on steep hills!) plus a short description of each. There is also a well-researched short local history of the area including pre-history, border strife, the Forest's industrial past and the changing role of the River Wye from transport to leisure.
As a local walker and route researcher, I am already familiar with most of the routes and can vouch for them being amongst the best the area has to offer and the authors have carefully devised their routes to include some of the best viewpoints too, including the world famous Symonds Yat Rock viewpoint and the spectacular view from the Devil's Pulpit over Tintern Abbey. The route maps and directions are clear to follow as well as being accurate and these are supplemented by good photography, presumably
Although the routes were first published in 1991, they have been revised and updated to reflect changes in the footpaths and even included the (relatively) new visitor facilities at Goodrich Castle - all very good to see in a guidebook and reassuring to see that it is up to date.
For anyone either lucky enough to live in the Wye Valley/Forest of Dean area or just visiting to enjoy it for a short while, this is an excellent book to help you enjoy some of the best the area has to offer and it is suited to all levels of ability from a gentle afternoon stroll to a full day's stiff walk for the more serious.
A highly recommended book for all.