Mark revisits walks around Lancashire for new Cicerone Guide

Many more people have discovered the countryside on their doorstep as a result of lockdown restrictions. Now a new book is set to tempt local walkers to explore slightly further afield.
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Its publication could not be better timed. A new book, to be published in June, will provide Lancashire walkers with much to celebrate and many routes to explore, from coastal and fell routes to accessible town into country rambles.

There will even be, what author Mark Sutcliffe terms "proper mountain hikes", all to be completed within the boundaries of the Red Rose county.

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For Mark it has been a labour of love as well as an honour. He was invited to update what had become a modern classic - the Cicerone guide Walking In Lancashire (40 walks around the county) by Mary Welsh.

Author Mark Sutcliffe out walkingAuthor Mark Sutcliffe out walking
Author Mark Sutcliffe out walking

He said: "This is a revisit of a book Cicerone has published for about 20 years. Lancashire is a really popular destination."

The new edition of the book promises to shows that even on the doorsteps of a town it is possible to get "out into the wilds to do some walking"

While most of the walks are in the countryside, he said he has added some which have more urban links allowing people more direct access to routes from their homes and has chosen to include more walks in South Lancashire. He noted: "That's one of the best things about Lancashire, we have got countryside quite close to the industrial mill towns and cities."

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Of Mary, a prolific writer of books on walking, who died in January 2017 aged 88, he said: "She was a walking legend was Mary. She used to write walks for the Westmorland Gazette. I'm quite privileged to follow in her footsteps."

A favourite landmark view - Pendle HillA favourite landmark view - Pendle Hill
A favourite landmark view - Pendle Hill

Mark should know, he used to edit and own the Lakeland Walker magazine and Mary, a contributor, lived in Cumbria for many years.

He acknowledges the Cicerone audience will be more used to the expanses of the Forest of Bowland, North Lancashire and the West Pennine moors.

The 52 year old former newspaper reporter said Bowland is one of his favourite areas for walking: "I live on the edge of the Forest of Bowland in Clitheroe and it's easy for me to get there."

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He attended Clitheroe Grammar school and trained as a reporter after graduating in history from the University of London, working in newspapers before moving into publishing.

One of the walks explores the foothills of Pendle  starting in the historic village of Downham (pictured)One of the walks explores the foothills of Pendle  starting in the historic village of Downham (pictured)
One of the walks explores the foothills of Pendle starting in the historic village of Downham (pictured)

The father of two also went on to edit the Country Walking magazine before returning north for family reasons when his father became ill.

He said: "My dad introduced me to walking ... It was wonderful to come back and be able to still do a few wonderful memorable walks with dad in this amazing county for walking."

After working as a freelance writer and communications consultant Marks set up his own company Salar Media Services, which is based in Clitheroe. Explaining its name he said: "I've always been quite a keen angler. Salar is the Latin for Atlantic salmon They are often found in the Ribble. Salmon are famous for swimming upstream and overcoming lots of barriers along the way and have a pretty hard life. I like to think I've got some of these attributes myself."

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One of his favourite routes, given the time, must, he said, be a two day walk acoss Bowland from Wennington, near Lancaster,stopping in Slaidburn. But he advised it is also possible to complete it on two separate days as time permits, ending at Giggleswick Station.

Wandering across Bowland at your own pace without "digital clutter" is, he said, his recipe for a luxury walking experience, adding that the views from Whelp Stone Crag above Gisburn Forest match the Appalachian Trail.

His hope is this updated guide will give those who may have only more recently discovered the countryside on their doorstep the confidence to explore further afield.

The 40 walks provide routes for all seasons and abilities. The walks are described as "within easy reach of Preston, Blackburn, Burnley, Lancaster and Clitheroe" and routes include ancient woodland and gritstone moors, historic Pendle and Pendle Hill, the RSPB reserve at Leighton Moss, the Neolithic Bleasdale Circle, the Roman museum at Ribchester, tercet posts on the Lancashire Witches Way, Andy Goldsworthy's sculptures on Clougha Pike, the Inn at Whitewell, Jubilee Tower, the Abbey Lighthouse and Morecambe Bay. They range from Beacon Fell and Brock Valley to Roeburndale, Silverdale and Warton Crag, Rufford and Mere Sands Wood to Pleasington and Billinge.

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Mark said: "There’s something for everyone, from coastal routes and town-into-country rambles to proper mountain hikes, reflecting the diversity to be found in the Red Rose county."

He added: "Certainly in the early days (of lockdown) when all my work fell off definitely the one thing that kept me fairly sane, not fretting or worrying, was a) getting some exercise and b) tuning in to the sheer rhythms of nature, really feeling immersed in it. To be able to spend two to three hours just wandering around is really special and it's certainly part of my own mental health workout."

Walking in Lancashire, 40 walks throughout the county including the Forest of Bowland and Ribble Valley by Mark Sutcliffe will be published by Cicerone on June 25 at £12.95 and can be pre-ordered at £11.66.

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