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Book Reviews

Peak District National Park Magazine – Ian Salvage

Paul Besley clearly knows this area of the Peak District well. He is a volunteer Ranger for the Peak District National Park and a member of Woodhead Mountain Rescue. I have always found Cicerone guidebooks to be well produced with excellent introductions to the area in question and containing detailed descriptions of well-chosen walks. This new guide is no exception. The guide presents route descriptions and 1:50,000 OS mapping for 35 half and full day walks. In addition, route summaries are provided for 5 longer walks of between 25km and 45km, including the classic circuit of the Kinder Scout skyline.

I did the walk from Old Glossop to Bleaklow Head with a couple of friends to test out the guide, as this was a new route to me. It was an interesting walk taking in Cock Hill, Clough Edge, Torside Clough, Bleaklow Head, Wain Stones, Hern Stones, the B29 aircraft wreck, Higher Shelf Stones, and James’s Thorn. The route information was clear with helpful compass directions where necessary. As the author says, it is always useful to carry the OS Explorer Dark Peak Map OS1 with you when walking in this part of the world. If you have a GPS enabled device to navigate, GPX files are available for free download via a link in the book.

My previous Cicerone guide to this area was ‘High Peak Walks’ by Mark Richards, first published in 1982. This was a Wainwright-style book with hand drawn maps and illustrations and thus had lots of detail that the new book lacks. However, the new guide has almost twice as many walks in about the same number of pages and, as I’ve indicated, contains sufficient detail to find one’s way – the key requirement of any guidebook. The new book also has the advantage of being completely up to date in terms of route finding and it promises to provide for many more pleasurable days if the walk on Bleaklow is anything to go by. I look forward to taking it with me on future excursions in the Dark Peak.

Bradway Bugle

519 Dark Peak - BRADWAY BUGLE - SUMMER 2017

Readers reviews of Dark Peak Walks

Excellent little guide! And full of clear information and first-hand knowledge. Good work.

Jim Perrin

Dark Peak Walks, is everything I hoped it would be – some great walks with lots of background information about the landscape, history and geology of the area.

Col Wood at Everyday Adventures

Just received the book; beautifully wrapped, can’t wait to sit in front of the fire and browse. Some cracking routes in here to do with the boy!

Mike Potts

Tonight study material, some cracking walks in here

Craig Carter

Now completed the first 10 Dark Peak Walks. Thanks and for the fantastic guide. Back for more after holiday!

Steve Wilson

The book is beautiful

Chris Blake

Meticulously researched, easy to follow guide, beautifully illustrated. A must have for walkers in the Peak District.

Barney Stone

Great walk and an enjoyable read.

Jon Sabine

Paul said “Oh that’s a nice gentle introduction”. He’s a Yorkshire man. What that translates to is “You’ll get muddy, it’ll be right windy, there’ll be a climb or three and as you’re a southerner you’re bound to get lost”. I decided to do the route in reverse for reasons I can’t understand myself so don’t bother asking. I had a brilliant day but I’m quite knackered now.

Nici Griffin

Just received this today and after just a quick flick through I cannot wait to start some new routes thanks to @paulbesleywriter for a great book.

Marcus Marsden

Paul. I’m so very impressed with your Dark Peak Walks book. I can’t wait to get out and start ticking them off. Congratulations!

Scott Robertson

So pleased with my copy of Dark Peak Walks. Paul, I love the whole layout along with your interesting historical, geographical and local information.

Gail Ferriman

Paul many thanks for producing such a great book. Lots more of inspiration within these pages. I never knew the name of the feature called Cotton Famine Road.

Ian Taylor

Just bought this book. Although I have done lots of walking in the Dark Peak this has shown me loads of walks I haven’t done….. so I’ll be trying some of these in the coming months.

Dave Jobling

Fab Mother’s Day present and thank you for writing so much Paul.

Louise Crawley

Corinne, Col and baby Luka following in the footsteps of the mass trespass.

Col, Corinne and Luka

After an absolute dog of a day, only one thing to do, grab the mudclaws and head out onto the moors. Dark peak walks no. 32 cotton famine road as a run.

Paul Bridge on Dark Peak UK  

Cotton Famine Road

The Cotton Famine Road. Courtesy of Paul Bridge

PB Walk 4 today and have been peat bog christened. Up to my shins in it on Rud Hill!
Was my 1st walk from the book and I really enjoyed it – the information and history included with each walk is wonderful to read as you walk along. Must invest in gaiters.

Hannah Bazley

Birthday presents don’t come much better than Dark Peak Walks Book

Troy Smith

Anyone looking to explore the Dark Peak this year, pick up a copy of  Pauls book Dark Peak Walks. Great walks from a few easy hours to full day adventures you might even fall in a bog or too.

Jon Sabine

Dark Peak Book at Stanage Pole

Dark Peak Book at Stanage Pole. Photo by Craig Carter. Used with permission

Craig Carter

Julie Whiting and Bella

Julie Whiting and Bella enjoying walk no.5 Used with permission

Paul I’m in a coffee shop waiting to catch up with a walking group in Kettlewell. I confess yo only just reading the wonderful introduction to your book Dark Peak Walks ….. so apologies!

Ian Taylor

PB Walk 24 A great walk with stunning views. Great book Paul

Ann Pearsall

Wonderful little book. Packed with information and interesting facts. Easy to follow maps, some lovely photos that reflect the true character of the Dark Peak. The author clearly has a deep understanding and love for the area plus a great knowledge. I thoroughly recommend this book.

Graham Hodgson

Two for one today PB Walk 5 and PB Walk 6 Grindleford to Higger and Hathersage to Stanage. With the book for company turned into a great history lesson of the area.

Neal Hibbi

Note: (PB 5 and 6 are Walks 5 and 6 in the book, Dark Peak Walks. PB = Paul Besley)

Thoroughly enjoying the walks in your book. Did walk number 6 yesterday and only saw one fell runner all day. If it is OK with you I will post a reccomendation of your book on the facebook page I Love the Peak District.

Richard Newman

Received the book Paul and I have to say what a fantastic job you’ve done. There are so many walks I’ve not done, as well as a few of the classics. Instructions seem very concise, and include distances and grid refs where applicable, and lovely touch with the wrapping and script on the paper. The Wainwright of the Peak District.

Chris Robinson

Great book. All the right detail. It is a bucket list of the best of the Dark Peak. I can’t wait to tick them all off!

Rob. W

PB Walk 13 Great walk and I really loved the bit of social history in your book too – I always like to know about the human history of the Peak.

Liz Collier

I did PB Walk 1 today. Amazing.

Cozza Rick

I have recently purchased a signed copy of Paul Besley new book “Dark Peak Walks” and decided to take in one of the 40 walks in it.  We made our way to Grindleford Station as indicated in the text to complete the Grindleford to Higger Tor circular.  Its  a great little book and Paul has some great walks all around the Peak District and is well worth its money.

Jason Johnston

I was given your dark peak guide book thus morning for fathers day.

I’ve been meaning to rekindle that deep connection that I used to have with the dark peak and have been wondering where to start, and then wondering turned in to procrastinating. I’ve thumbed through the guide and it it was immediately obvious that this book was the catalyst I was after. Obviously most of the areas are familiar but my previous visits would of been shaped around trying to visit hill tops or trigs, your routes have a lot more depth and most cases offer up a very different route to ones I would of chosen myself.

So firstly thank you for producing something which I will get so much pleasure from and secondly it is a lovely, lovely thing. It’s beautifully done and I’m guessing will be something I’ll just become more and more fond of.

Daniel Simpson


Dark Peak Walks Book by Paul Besley, published by Cicerone Press. 40 walks in the Dark Peak with detailed route descriptions, maps, photos and points of interest.

Dark Peak Walks by Paul Besley

Buy a personalised, signed and gift wrapped copy of Dark Peak Walks from Wapentac


This guidebook describes 40 walks in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park. Ranging from short strolls to full-day adventures, they showcase the region’s unique character. Dramatic waterfalls, striking gritstone edges, heath and woodland are just some of the delights encountered, with many of the routes venturing off-path to explore hidden cloughs and valleys. Detailed route description is provided for 35 walks, accompanied by 1:50,000 OS mapping and interesting facts about local points of interest, then a further five longer walks (of 25-45km) are summarised in the final section, including a classic circuit of the Kinder Scout skyline.

Taking in the high moors of Derwent, Bleaklow, Kinder and Howden, the walks reveal not only the area’s wild beauty but also some of its fascinating stories. 10,000 years of history lie waiting to be uncovered – from Neolithic burial mounds and Bronze Age cairns to remnants of the region’s more recent industrial past. This guide is a perfect companion to discovering the secrets of the Dark Peak and experiencing its magnificent landscape in all its glory.


Article in TGO Magazine : Lessons of Experience

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A personal tale of how a walk can go drastically wrong with life threatening injuries in the depths of winter.

Article for the Cicerone Blog

Dark Peak Walks: A Sample Route From Paul Besley’s New Guidebook

10th February 2017

The Three Ships on Birchen Edge. Walk No.1 Dark Peak Walks

The Three Ships on Birchen Edge. Dark Peak, Peak District National Park

Published to coincide with the launch of my book Dark Peak Walks. This article is the first walk in the book detailing the walk from Chatsworth House to Birchen Edge via Baslow. Read the article here

Article for Cicerone Extra

Dark Peak – The High Moorlands of the Peak District National Park

April 25th 2017

The Druid Stone Kinder Scout

The Druid Stone Kinder Scout. Peak District National Park

Commissioned by Cicerone. This article outlines the history of the Dark Peak and highlights the character of this unique landscape. From high moorlands to river worn valleys, gritstone outcrops to the peat groughs, you can get a taste of what this magnificent area has to offer. Read the article here