I have met one of the authors of this book (Steve Mullins) on a couple of occasions at Yorkshire Society events and whilst discussing my tours and our love of walking, he mentioned his book 8 miles to the pub. Steve offered to send me a copy so I thought it would be a great opportunity for a review.
Steve Mullins, who also wrote Yorkshire: The Case for Independence and two of his pals Dave Clegg and David Philpott finally caught up after 50 years and decided to walk from Derby to Malton via Sheffield, through the places they now live.
The friends met aged 15 in the village of Birkenshaw and were scouts together, camping and hiking at weekends as young men. They ended up meeting up again when one of them moved back up North and after a few “catch up walks” agreed it might be fun to plan a longer trail.
After agreeing that they would do this walk, they decided to plan and document their adventure too – so the idea for 8 Miles to the Pub was born. Being pensioners and with different physical abilities they decided to complete the walk in many stretches and in the end with Covid, the walking was done over almost three years.
In their own words – “they couldn’t decide whether the book was going to be a travelogue, a guide book, tourist information piece or an advertisement for the areas they walked through”. But in the end it is all these things and much more.
The book details the routes they took, but also is illustrated by many of their own photographs which brings the journey to life.
Whilst the first stretches are in Derbyshire, the book follows their route from Chesterfield to Selby with walks via Sheffield, Doncaster and Elsecar.
The final stretch covers walks between Selby and Malton. Much of this walking is in the Yorkshire Wolds, an often overlooked area of Yorkshire, but with so much history and heritage as well as a distinctive chalk upland landscape.
There are some interesting pages which cover the deserted medieval village of Wharram Percy and its surrounding area, which is one of my favourite areas of The Wolds.
What comes across is also that these chaps still have an incredible curiosity and so the walk is not about challenging distances over a number of days but a leisurely journey where they stop and explore the history, heritage, culture and landscapes they pass through.
The days walking are kept “reasonable” and the most important criteria is that they always finish with a pub!
What is lovely about the book is the reminiscences in the pub at the end of each walk. The harks back to past glories and the ramblings of what are obviously great friends having a lot of fun, makes the book more interesting as you feel drawn into their adventures.
At the start of the book there is a long list of things they learnt during their travels which tickled me. Number one was “That we are not as fit as we used to be” and one of the final ones was “Pubs are not always open when you want them to be”. I think we can all relate to that.
Well worth a read.