Tom is a professional travel writer and this is the story of his month walking 379 miles around the Lakes.
Firstly a strange coincidence. I'm not a great reader of travel books but one of my other interests is travelling by train and I recently read (and would also recommend) Stuart Campbell's Daniel Defoe's Railway Journey: A Surreal Odyssey Through Modern Britain. I mention this because Tom specifically mentions Dafoe in his preface where he writes that in his A Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain (a book to which Stuart also refers) Dafoe was not impressed with the Lake District, being a place where "all the pleasant parts of England was at an end".
Thankfully Tom does not agree and in his book, like Stuart before him, he is if anything more interested in the people he meets than anything else although he still has many a Lakeland tale to tell which he does as he covers many miles, passing through a lot of towns and villages.
Tom did his walk in April so he experienced the full range of Lake District weather and learned, like us, to respect the MWIS forecasts. His bagging of Scafell Pike for example was on a cold and windy day with clouds below so no views to speak of. What is impressive though is that he had a plan and he stuck to it - so all his accommodation was pre-booked and he arrived everywhere when he planned to, doing it all on foot.
It's very much a book of its time. This is post Storm Desmond, which is referred to several times; it's post Brexit, and there are many references to the effect of that on the lack of employees in the tourism industry as a result; it's also post Covid and that's talked about in some of his encounters; and finally it's written after the start of the Ukraine war, and Tom has reasons why that's very personal to him.
Other themes emerge through the book too, like the ranking of pub sandwiches and of Cumberland sausage, the price of a lime and soda, and the huge variety of locally brewed beers. Echos of Wordsworth and Coleridge also pop up repeatedly.
You will have gathered by now that this is not really a guide to the Lakes but you will still learn a lot about the place and especially about its people, and hopefully you will also be entertained. I know I was.
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