Having had time to digest this latest publication by Pesda Press I would have to say I’m impressed. Before I go any further I have to come clean, as this is a Pesda Press Blog, I’m in the process of writing a guidebook to be published by them and I’m a friend of Simon’s however I’ve paid full price for the book and hopefully you can see that my review isn’t one sided.
Simon’s pain staking attention to detail is clear to see when you read the book and also know the area. He has done his homework and more. However that said there is huge amount of information in the guidebook which will become out of date very quickly as the opening times for businesses and transport times on the West Coast of Scotland do change as often as the weather. The book’s forum will perhaps solve this issue where by users of the guidebook can share updates and new information easily and quickly via cyperspace.
It’s fair to say that if you are expecting a ‘do this, be here at this state of tide and you will see this’ kind of route description you might not be that impressed with the guidebook but this is where it’s biggest strength lies as Simon has managed to give the reader enough detail to enable them to plan and execute a safe trip yet leave some of real exploring and adventuring for the reader to discover themselves.
I was suprised to see some much space devoted at the start of the guidebook to planning, safety, camping and wildlife however them chapters are essential reading for paddlers from overseas coming to Scotland to ensure they fully understand and appreciate the trail and it’s unique enviroment with respect and care. Even seasoned paddlers from Scotland might pick up a few tips or refreshers on things they ought or wish to know more about.
There are some stunning photographs in the book along with useful maps of the key towns/shuttle/refueling stops on the trail. The size of some of the photos are too small to enable them to be appreciated fully. The ratio of ’lifestyle’ and ‘trail community’ photos versus the standard, boring ‘paddler, sea and coastline’ photo is correct with no boring, bland photos to be found.
In summary this book is a showcase for the World class sea kayaking destination that is the West coast of Scotland. The writing style is engaging and informative yet not prescribtive. I think this trail guidebook might inspire more sea kayak trails around the British Isles and the World and this guidebook has set the benchmark standard at a high bar.