Pesda Press

Reviews of Rock Trails Lakeland

Review in Cumberland News, by Steve Matthews 

26 June 2009

Crossing Colliding Continents With a Rocky Evangelist

If you allow Paul Gannon to take you for a Sunday afternoon stroll anywhere in the Lake District, you will find yourself in a monstrous world of colliding continents and boiling lava flows, of glacial gouging and corrie carving. When Paul Gannon climbs Whiteside in the Skiddaw group he imagines the massive forces that have shaped the Lake District …

Paul is an evangelical geologist. He sees the smooth grassy slopes, the craggy rocks, the autumnal fern and heather that we delight in, but he also imagines the massive forces that over millennia have shaped the face of the earth….

On such an everyday walk as Catbells, geology lies all around you. Just after the first steep, strenuous 200 metre slope he will point out a narrow trench, the last trace of the old workings where German miners exploited the copper wealth of the area five centuries ago. Nearer the summit he will draw your attention to the outcrops of “the well-cleaved sedimentary rocks of the Buttermere formation”, which sounds very technical until you start scrambling over the rocks themselves and see, as you can very clearly in the photographs, how the rocks all lie pointing upwards in one direction and seem like layers placed on top of each other. The way the beds of rock are angled and disrupted shows how they have been twisted and torn under the immense pressures during mountain building episodes. …

Paul makes the slow, slow pacing of geological time dramatic and exciting. And the neat diagrams and the superbly selected photographs help you understand clearly how things have happened and how you can see the effects of all this activity lying about you in all directions today….

This is one of those walking books that has something new to offer. Others have dealt with the geology, but few can have described it with such enthusiasm and clarity.

Review at (mountain leader training association) by Rachael Hinchliffe:

Seeing this new book on my desk took me back to the hours I spent last year poring over the previous volume, “RockTrails Snowdonia” in preparation for my MIA Assessment. I shouldn’t really admit this, but my brain doesn’t really ‘do’ geology. Paul Gannon seemed to appreciate my problem and the language/terminology used in the last volume was easily digested for regurgitation on Assessment day! The other part of the book I loved was the section on how man has shaped the landscape we see today; a theme which is continued into this new Lakeland setting.

Paul’s latest, RockTrails Lakeland is part geology lesson and part walking guide, describing the processes by which the Lake District was formed and highlighting the geological and other formative features along a series of walks.

This edition adopts the same 2 part format as the previous book. The first section records the process by which the landscape was formed, what sorts of rocks were created and how to recognise signs of mountain-building and glaciation on the fells and in the valleys. The second part of the book describes 15 walks ranging from easy to challenging with revealing views of the Lakeland geology.

Paul admits to simplifying the terminology and technical jargon and whilst this is great for me, someone with more relevant knowledge might find it overly simplistic. However, this is not just a science book; the descriptive language is both precise and evocative. The book is packed with excellent photos, used effectively to illustrate technical features as well as scenic landscapes.

The feature I most like about this book is its ability to make the walker appreciate and understand the landscape rather than just travelling through it, almost like having a real live geologist to accompany you on your journeys through the magnificent Lakeland scenery.

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