This is not the journal of a medieval Wainwright but a diary of a seventeen day trek from St. Bees to Robin Hood's Bay in October 1998 by Lesley and Eric Bell, two middle-aged enthusiasts. Eric's eighty eight year old mum thought they 'must be bonkers' and reading this humorous confession of their adventures and misadventures one is tempted to agree. Don't think of it as a guide book - more a manual of how to cope with losing a map, squelching along tracks blanketed by mist, being battered by blustery winds, temperamental mobile phones, dingy hostelries, the bogs of Nine Standards Rigg and the light grey carpet of a cafe in Reeth.
It wasn't all gloom and doom. Friendly pubs and bed and breakfasts offered a refuge from the storms; Margaret Cashen at Rosthwaite gave a warm welcome to two "mobile puddles"; fellow walkers (Dutch, American, Welsh and English) convinced the Bells that they weren't the only nutcases on the trail. The twelve miles of ups and downs from Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top were crossed in perfect weather, with no wind and clear views - the sort of day that makes the Coast to Coast worthwhile, even though the next morning was "gruesome from the first step."
Bonkers? perhaps, but we are left with a sneaking feeling that Lesley and Eric enjoyed their marathon in spite of its mishaps.
George Bott in the Keswick Reminder
ISBN 0 9537203 3 0 A5 format, 64 pages, perfect bound, 37 monochrome photographs, 9 drawings, £4.99
Price in UK £4.99 Online order: post and packing £2.01