With World Book Day on Thursday I wonder if any children are going to school dressed head to toe in outdoor gear because their favourite book is a walking guidebook or a tale of mountaineering?

In light of World Book Day it seems appropriate to confess something that may have escalated! It started with rummaging through the charity shop bookshelves and car boot tables in search of walking books in need of a second life – and now I seem to have amassed quite a collection (amount unknown, though easier to count it in boxes of books!)

I like walking books, I like walking apps too – I use OS Maps daily, but there is something satisfying about holding a book, reading the author’s take on a route and admiring the different representations of maps. Though often I revert to OS Maps to track and visualise the routes.

Walking books with a historic element are great. It is pleasing to save a rare book from the skip and interesting to look back at how paths and route descriptions have changed over time. And of course the advancement walking kit and fashions!

Charity shop books

With rising costs more people are turning to the circular economy via apps, swapping projects and charity shops. However rising costs have also seen charity shop prices increase, but it seems that books have been not been as affected as other items, such as clothes. I usually pay 50p or £1 and have never spent more than £3 on a second-hand walking book.

I will regularly pop into my local charity shops to see if anything new has arrived – and always enjoy nosing around charity shops in towns that I visit. Occasionally there will be a couple of walking books, presumably from the same person donating a collection. And the seam is unexpectedly richer in shops near popular walking areas.

A few of the gems I have found include 1001 Walks in Britain from the AA which is a collection of small route cards from 2004. There are plenty of walking books to be found covering the popular areas and occasionally books covering routes in less popular or lowland areas.

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I have also been lucky enough to find small books or leaflets of long distance trails which I suspect would have had limited print runs and possibly are now unavailable, such as The Vanguard Way guide, the High Weald Landscape Trail and the Sussex Diamond Way – these are the valuable explanations of the routes that appear as green diamonds on OS Maps.

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Often a trip to the charity shops will turn up no walking guides – so area guides are good fallback. Most recently I found The Most Amazing Places on Britain’s Coast from 2009 in virtually new condition. I also found a book called ‘Beautiful Sussex’ a small 40 year old book with photos and brief paragraphs describing various places. Both of these books will be used as inspiration when developing walking routes. Though one hazard of buying so many second-hand books is that once on the shelf (or in the box) it is easy to lose track and so end up with two copies!

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I like new walking books too, I am always on the look out for new approaches to presenting routes and walking information. I promote Ron Scholes’ excellent Ravenber Way and Pennine Odyssey books and I am also currently researching and writing three walking books for which I will soon be looking for publishers. It’s just with buying new books I am a little more choosey.

Though I am looking forward to the day when I walk into a charity shop to find my books on the shelf – hopefully having had a long and productive first lives.

Here’s a couple of walking books to add to your collection on World Book Day
A Pennine Odyssey Guide Book
Coast to Coast on the Ravenber Way

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