From walker to author

What did you do during lockdown? Bake banana bread? Host a family quiz on Zoom? Or were you one of the countless people who joined a heart pumping session with Joe Wickes? Me – I planned a new long-distance walk!!


Why?

I looked through the window at the snow-covered Kinder Scout, the highest point in the Peak District. It’s just 10 miles or so away, and I really wanted to be walking there. It’s a place I’ve walked many times before with my walking partner, my family, our dog Rocky and, sometimes, alone, but now I couldn’t. It was January 2021 and the restrictions imposed due to the global Covid-19 pandemic only allowed me to walk locally.

Kinder Scout
The view that inspired the walk

So, I started to walk more frequently on local walks and I was struck by how beautiful the local countryside is, and how lucky I am to live in an urban area that’s close to it. Maybe I took it for granted before, but now, being far more mindful, I began to really appreciate just what it offered in terms of the lovely views across beautiful countryside and the great variety of bird, animal, tree and wild flower species that inhabit the area.

Then I started to think about walking from home to Hayfield which is a popular start point for walks on Kinder Scout. So, I took my OS map and started planning what I thought would be the most interesting route, based on my knowledge of this area.

I’ve been a keen walker for over 40 years now and most of this has been in the Peak District. As well as the thousands of day-walks I’ve enjoyed, I’ve completed several of the UK’s long-distance walks; the last one I did was also the longest - the 630-mile South West Coast Path.


So, I developed the idea and started to plan a long-distance route from my home town of Stockport into and around the Peak District. Based on my knowledge of walking in the Peak District, and of my experience of walking long distance trails, I started to create a walking route that would offer some of the most spectacular views and showcase some of the most interesting heritage in the stunning Peak District, whilst offering accommodation nearby at the end of each day. The Peak Way was born.


So, I’d better actually walk it

It’s one thing planning it on paper, but now I needed to actually walk it. So, when the lockdown restrictions started to be eased, I set out on the great walk. It was a slow process and time consuming because I had to navigate the route, write notes on the route directions and take photographs along the way. Of course, it didn’t quite work out first time – I did have to return a couple of times to do some ‘fine-tuning’. But eventually I completed it.


So, what next?

So, when I started the walk, quite coincidentally, one of those random ads appeared on my Facebook page - it was the WEA offering online courses. I usually carry on scrolling but, for some reason, I was curious enough to have a look. One of the courses was “How to Create a Web site” and it occurred to me that it would be useful to have a website for my new long-distance walk. So, I signed up for the 10-week course and during that time my newly created website started to evolve from a blank page. Eventually, I bought a domain name and paid for the site to be hosted. You can find it now at www.peakwaywalk.com.


Walking the Peak Way Guide Book
'Walking the Peak Way' Guide Book

Getting the Walk into print

So how could I make the transition from getting my scribbled notes about the walk, and the photos on my mobile, into print? I read an e-book about self- publishing. It seemed like a complicated process at first but, on second reading, it became clearer. So, I started to write the book until finished then I checked, checked and checked it again until I was satisfied that it was accurate. Next, I selected the photos that I wanted to use in the book. Then I applied for a licence from Ordnance Survey so that I could use their mapping in the book. Next, I applied for an ISBN number for the book so that it could be sold in bookshops and other outlets. Then I had to find a book designer who did the typesetting, layout and design of the book from my Word document, photos and map images. And, of course he produced a front cover design for the book. There were, of course, some changes along the way until it looked how I wanted it to look. Then a few final tweaks and it was ready for print. Now I’ve made all this sound easy haven’t I, but it was far from that – a massive learning curve with loads of challenges and lots of decisions to make. But it was fun!


Then came the exciting bit – ordering my first consignment and receiving my first ever paperback.


The Big Gamble

It was at this point that I suddenly realised what a huge chance I’d taken. I’d had this idea for the new long-distance walk and thought it was a great idea. But was it? Would other hikers think it was a good idea? Would they buy the book? By now, I had a massive dose of self-doubt! Perhaps I’d got carried away with my enthusiasm for my idea. But it was too late. I had committed a significant amount of money (and a great deal of time) to the publication of the book and the website. Oh well, at least I’d enjoyed the walk anyway!

Anyway, the next exciting bit was getting orders in for the Guide Book. And, just as important, getting good reviews. Oh, and getting visitors to the website from throughout the UK but also from Europe, USA and, believe it or not, Australia.


The Next Step

Well, I just have to make it work. I have to market the book and sell copies – enough copies to recover my investment and break even at the very least. And this is going to be a lot more work and I’ve realised that I’m spending much less time walking and lot’s more time working. I’ve only just started the promotion job and I’ve got so much more to do. At the moment, the guide book is only available on the website (you’ll get a free Accommodation List if you buy a copy through the website). However, I’m planning to make it available through bookshops and other retail outlets, shortly.


It’s a great long-distance walk created for YOU

So now that you’re reading this, please visit the website www.peakwaywalk.com and hopefully you’ll be inspired to take up the challenge and walk ‘The Peak Way’. And please buy the Guide Book. I’m not asking you to do this out of pity for me, but simply because it’s a brilliant walk!