Peter Jackson, author of ‘The Cumbria Way’- a fantastically illustrated walking guide – chats about his favourite authors as well as his future ambitions and exciting plans for more walking guides…
Can you tell us a bit more about your recent book published in April?
“An Illustrated Walking Guide to the Cumbria Way” is a guide book for people wishing to walk all or part of the 73-mile Cumbria Way, a long-distance walking route which links the south of the county at Ulverston, on the shore of Morecambe Bay, to Carlisle, in the far north near the Scottish border. The book contains over 120 colour photographs of the walk, and the route notes link 136 “waypoints” – key points on the route that can be used as extra navigational aids if required. Buyers of the book also get access – at no extra cost – to lots of additional information that will enable them to plan and organise their own perfect walking holiday – an accommodation listing (to over 280 establishments on or near the route), public transport information, suggested itineraries and so on.
Who would you say the book is aimed for – experienced walkers? or any ability?
The book is aimed at walkers of all levels of ambition and experience. There are plenty of walkers who don’t have the confidence to set off on a long-distance walk either because they think they can’t navigate, or they don’t know how to go about finding the right accommodation in the right place (or simply because they don’t think they’re up to it!). My hope is that the level of detail together with the photographs and waypoints will encourage those people to give it a go. And I feel sure that even the most experienced walkers would get something from the book and the accompanying downloads.
What gave you the idea to write it?
I used to be co-owner of a walking holiday business – in our walks with groups around the Lakes and Dales, we saw more than a few people on walks such as the Cumbria Way and the Dales Way who were struggling with finding the correct route. When we provided self-guided holidays for walkers, we did not just provide them with an existing guide-book, but supplemented it with our own route notes. Comments about the notes from our walkers were very favourable, most of them saying that they felt confident because of the level of detail they contained. My guidebooks are an attempt to continue to offer that reassurance.
So what is your favourite book?
I don’t know if they count as books but my favourite reading is a map! Any old map will do, but the Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps of the Lake District are a seemingly endless source of new ideas, as well as being essential rucksack companions. So far as walking guides are concerned, I love reading Wainwright’s books – not so much as guides, but his enthusiasm and love for the hills he is describing shines through, as does his dislike for certain places. In my opinion his Pennine Way Companion is a masterpiece: he did not enjoy much of the walk…and it shows. Terrific.
Away from walking, I enjoy Harry Pearson’s and Bill Bryson’s travel books and I used to read a lot of Franz Kafka and Stephen King – although not at the same time. I’m not sure I can use the influence of either of these two authors in a walking guide – although a Kafka-esque meander along the Coast to Coast walk with horror overtones might make for a best seller! Good if you want to read about a walker who turns into a beetle at his first B&B, gets arrested for an unknown offence he didn’t commit and then stays in a hotel where gallons of blood gush out of the lift doors.
– Perhaps that could be a ‘special edition’!
Why did you contact 2QT?
I saw a piece in the local paper (The Westmorland Gazette) about 2QT, rang Catherine and then had a meeting with her. The help and advice I have received all along the line has been fantastic: the Cumbria Way book would probably never have seen the light of day without the encouragement and support that 2QT have offered. Thanks to all concerned!!
What advice would you give to other writers starting out or thinking of publishing their work?
I don’t really feel qualified to offer advice except to say “Don’t give up!” If you do have an idea, give 2QT publishing a call.
Have you got plans for more books?
My main ambition is to write a blockbusting novel but, since I don’t have a novel in me, I’ll stick to guide books I think. I guess much will depend on how things go with the Cumbria Way guide, but I would like to write more in a similar style. I have ideas on writing a walkers’ guide to a part of the French Alps that I know well – all the best existing guides to the area are in French – and I am currently working on a project for a very long walk (500 miles or so) around the Lake District: the idea is that the walk will visit as many points of interest as possible whilst taking the walker to every major valley and all the lakes. It will also take in many of the parts of the Lakes that tend to be overlooked by most walkers. The walk is not intended to be done as a single trip – perhaps if you had the time – but can be broken down into stages. It is mostly a low to mid-level walk, rather than a mountain marathon, but the route will pass within walking distance of most of the Lakes’ best-known tops, and will include a handful of them on the route itself. The whole thing is meant to be a book about the Lakes, with the walking guide as an integral part of it, rather than a guide book pure and simple.
‘The Cumbria Way’ can be purchased here from our website. Visit www.mywalkingguide.com for more guidebooks
Interview by Kate Cousins