Easy to browse through, easy to follow the route guidance and the directions, makes a good companion on the journey.
Good size and light enough to carry with in pocket of rainjacket for quick reference. Having the excerpts of the OS maps for the whole route is great, and avoids need to buy a whole bunch of different OS maps.
Have not used the book yet for walking but has been very useful for planning the trip and has provided lots of interesting information about the north downs way and the pilgrims way. Seems to be the most up to date and comprehensive guide available at the momment.
This is a great guide with almost all the information that could be usefully provided in something that won't fill out your rucksack. There are first class maps, detailed directions and useful pointers to interesting places. The route is generally split into 10 mile stretches, with additional info about toilets, pubs and other refreshment points. It doesn't have detailed web or telephone info about accommodation, although there are many places mentioned one could investigate before any journey. You'll also need to look up any train and bus information before you set off, although the guide does indicate the places where transport passes through. I've walked some sections and can recommend this book wholeheartedly.
I took it into my head to walk the NDW having done no serious walking for 20 odd years, and thought a 14 mile section would be a good beginners challenge.
I almost immediately took a wrong turn and walked a 21 mile section instead. That turned into a 26 odd mile walk given the additional wrong turns and unintended detours. At one stage I looked over at what seemed to me at the time a very tall hill near Folkestone (sugar loaf hill if you know it) and thought to myself 'at least I'm not going up there'. Not 5 minutes later I took a wrong turn which took me to the top of it.
The NDW is 'pretty well' signed, but pretty well isn't good enough to keep you always on track.
I did some research and bought this book, it has maps and description's enough to keep a beginner with minimal map reading skill on track, as well as some interesting background info on the areas and sites on the way. The NDW is broken down into manageable sections which you can do individually or combine depending on how much you feel like tackling. It has details of travel links and places to eat / stay should you be so inclined.
The only downside is that the walk is detailed West to East, so if like me you walk the north and south loops together (or want to do the whole route East to West) you end up trying to follow the book 'backwards' which is confusing and doesn't really work.
I've now got into walking in a big way (let me shill the long distance walkers association here) and have invested in a GPS with mapping so these days mostly just follow an arrow, but for starting out this is a good buy. There's also a similar book for the South Downs Way too - though I think not the same author.
I was prompted to write this review by a recent holiday walking the Cotswold Way for which I found my Trailblazer guide had significant shortcomings. It reminded me how good this guide is which covers my “local” National Trail. It provides everything you need to follow the route with clear maps on an OS base supported by a narrative that describes the route and brings out its character, all backed up by helpful information on mileage and height gain and loss. There are well-researched descriptions of places of interest along the route, usefully cross referenced in the route narrative, and there is also helpful information on public transport connections which is likely to be particularly useful on the North Downs Way where I suspect many people will be walking individual sections as day walks. Information is also provided on local services and possible refreshment stops and there is summary information on places to stay. The guide is well-structured, the level of detail is about right and the presentation is very clear. In short it is a fine example of how to get a National Trail guide right.
having completed the St Swithun's way first and struggled with very muddled open to interpretation guide, this guide written so clearly and in such detail makes the walk an absolute dream, and removes the element of error, leading to wasted expenditure of energy when a wrong turn is taken!!
The great thing about this book is that it contains very clear instructions for the trail, which is essential and it contins the information about local history and points of interest which really add to the enjoyment of your walk. BUT the great thing about the way it is written is that it separates the two sections out which makes it really easy to use. There are too many trail books where you have to wade through paragraphs about how the third cousin once removed of Ethelred the unready once stopped for a sandwich and a flask of tea underneath some tree which was once here but was cut down 5 million years ago or whatever, before you can get to the bit where it tells you whether to take the right fork or the left fork and by the time you have read all that bumf you have probably walked a mile from the bit where you have to take the left or right fork.
The book also has good information about local amenities for refreshments and transport links. We are about half through the trail now and have found it really helpful and haven't really used any other maps or navigational aids.
One minor criticism, if they are updating the book they should include the 'Wells Chapel' a unique piece of Arts and Crafts architecture which is in Compton just a few hundred metres from the trail near the end of the first walk from Farnham to Guildford and well worth a visit.
Was that Colin Saunders we saw on a sunny autumn day on the cliffs above the chunnel? He got us there, was a faithful friend but was a bit obsessed with the traffic. And road safety. Oh yeah, and kept missing things such as the Coldrum Stones long barrow and other Medway megaliths. Anything that was 500 metres off the trail even if it was the world's most interesting thing he just didn't concern himself with it.
That said we enjoyed the highlights provided and treated Colin like an extra member of our band. The enthusiasm for the route was contagious , the historical stuff was good. North Downs Way guide increased our enjoyment and on the one occasion we forgot to bring it along we got lost 3 times. So, even though the trail is well sign posted, we feel this book is crucial to completing the North Downs Way because it gives you a better grip of what you're seeing. And the author, it has to be said, is a sweet guy.