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Up the hills and round the Dales; Exploring The South of Ireland. By Paddy Dillon (Ward lock, pounds 20). Tom Lawton's Short Walks in the Lake District. By Tom Lawton (pounds 18.99). Reviewed by Ross Reyburn.

Britain and Ireland have some magnificent walking territory and two new publications from Ward Lock offer impressive guides to England's Peak District and 36 walks exploring the landscape of the south of Ireland.

The books offer interesting contrasts. The Peak District offers a more peaceful, pristine landscape of vales, valleys, aqueducts, country houses, streams with stepping stones although moorlands and tors should be treated with care.

Lawton provides a neatly written, impressively-presented guide with attractive photographs and useful information and tips about amenities, footpaths and waysigns.

This book's memorable images include a stunning view of the countryside ranging to Glencar Lough from the cliffs of Kings Mountain and an eye-catching shot of a sheer drop looking down on Bunnatreva Lough West with Saddle Head and the Atlantic Ocean beyo nd.

Dillon's photograph of the final summit of Carrauntoohil, Ireland's highest mountain at 1,039 metres (3,414ft), looks a relatively easy ascent along the Coumloughra Horseshoe.

But appearances can be deceptive. In his notes, the author gives a time allowance for the summit walk of up to seven hours and warns despite their clear access track, there are only vague paths on some slopes and some exposed scrambling is necessary.

The only easy ascent to the summit is from the roadside up a relatively recent track to a hydro-electric scheme but this comes a poor second to other more interesting routes.

The rocky peak of Skregmore offers a bouldery ascent. Other routes are more dangerous.

"If Skregmore's switchback crest proved difficult, then the sight of Beenkeragh's bouldery pyramid rising next in line could reduce some walkers to tears," writes Dillon.

"Take pains not to dislodge boulders, for the sake not only of anyone who may be directly below you, but also for anyone who might be out of sight a long way below."

The most daunting walk photograph in the book is Dillon's magnificent view of the summit of The Big Gun standing at 939 metres (3,080ft) in the MacGillycuddy's Reeks mountain range. To the layman, this frightening line of sinister-looking narrow rock fla nked by two steep ridges may look unwalkable. But Dillon in a matter-oact way says the summit can be reached walking carefully and the rocky ridges flanking the summit require scrambling skills.
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Author:Reyburn, Ross
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 19, 1998
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