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Walks to Wet Your Whistle: Circular Walks, with a Pub, in Shropshire and Along Its Staffordshire Borders Paperback – 1 Jun 2000
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I did expect a book that plagiarised and borrowed from many long published Shropshire walks by the likes of Ordnance Survey, the AA & the like. Not so, as these walks are highly original and clearly borne from an author who has spent a great deal of time researching routes and skilfully tying rights of way together.
My title suggests flaws, and the majority of those problems have simply come about due to the passage of time...
One of the five walks was horrendously difficult to navigate with the book alone, and I must have walked 12 miles instead of 8 because of unclear route markers, long disappeared stiles and subtley changed landscapes. This was however only painfully evident on the one walk (the one taking in the Shropshire Union Canal and the Wharf Inn), and I strongly advise that an OS map for that area be purchased before attempting it... Having said that, I did manage to finish that one eventually, with only 30 minutes of Winter daylight to spare...So it was an adventure (if at times an annoying one) regardless of my criticism.
Looking at the books credits, I have worked out that some walks must have been devised up to 25 years ago (date of sought right to publication 1988). This of course explains quite a bit.
Having said that, the other walks were completed with ease, despite the low quality maps drawn by the author (which are, in the main, still reasonably accurate).
Another problem is the fact that so many pubs have now closed down due to recession. On the walk I mentioned above, there are 2 possible pubs to lunch at... The Wharf Inn is now sadly shut, and as for the other pub (The Wheatsheaf), I was actually stood next to it when asking of its whereabouts to a local farmer... He actually laughed, saying "its behind you"! It was too... well back ten years ago that is, all now remaining a gorse covered demolition site...
If relying on the pub references (& not taking sarnies like me), please make sure you Google in advance.
The last & greatest flaw? The book construction is very weak... My copy already has a split spine and loose page chunks, as it is absolutely impossible to treat as you might a coveted book whilst sat in an armchair at home. In order to use whilst hiking along you will quickly be fighting the urge to fold the book in half (backwards along the spine... Sorry, lovers of physical books... Unforgiveable, I know!!!!). It is otherwise just far too unwieldly.
When comparing it with the seemingly immortal quality of the green OS walk books, it is absolutely miles away in terms of durability... I do suggest the simultaneous purchase of a thick and wide roll of clear adhesive tape...
I have been as critical as I could possibly be, but the fact remains that you would be mad not to purchase this book if you love walking and have easy access to Shropshire... Just one of the walks is more than worth the entire books purchase cost (even the ill fated one I have described above, which was still...erm... fun). But then theres the Worfield & Rindleford walk (for one other example). Now the memory of the beauty of that one will remain with me until I happily return to it again.
An absolutely superb compendium in a limited market.