Castles of Eden – Kirkby Stephen to Penrith, by Mark Richards, A Station to Station Walk. Published by PathMaster, An imprint of J R Nicholls - £6.99

This new book by walker and outdoor writer Mark Richards is one of a new series of “Station to Station” walks that Mark has devised. Mark is a champion of public transport and has worked extensively with the local authorities in Cumbria and Northumberland to improve services for walkers on both rail and buses. This particular walk from Kirkby Stephen to Penrith has railway stations in both towns enabling the walker to easily return to Kirkby Stephen by train via Carlisle after the forty two mile walk has been finished.

The walk passes through some magnificent scenery of Northern England and its prime objective is to link together a number of famous castles and other historical monuments on-route. It follows three valleys – the Eden, the Lyvennet and the Lowther valleys whose peacefulness and beauty includes areas of Special Scientific Interest and nationally important wildlife reserves.

Mark has divided the route into four days walking, each of approximately ten or eleven miles making it very suitable to be completed either over a long weekend or alternatively on four separate occasions using public transport to return to each day’s starting point. This is possible on every day via the various bus services although on the third leg from Appleby to Shap it is necessary to return to Appleby via Penrith as that is the route that the bus takes, but it is still only an hour’s journey, albeit with a fairly limited service.

The castles and other monuments visited or passed during the walk are Brough Castle, Appleby Castle, Shap Abbey, Lowther Castle, Clifton Hall pele tower, Brougham Hall, Brougham Castle and Penrith Castle. In addition, when returning by train from Penrith to Kirkby Stephen, it is necessary to change at Carlisle where that magnificent castle, most famous for its battles during the second Jacobite rising against George II in 1745, can also be visited.

In the book are a number of pen and ink drawings of the castles and monuments done by Mark – one of his trademarks and very much in the style of Alfred Wainwright the Lakeland Guidebook writer. There are also various full colour maps for each of the sections of the route.

Mark has an abiding fascination in historical landscapes, first kindled forty years ago when he prepared a guide to Offa’s Dyke and twenty five years ago with his guide to Hadrian’s Wall. This new guide to historical places in North East Cumbria will, I am sure, prove equally as popular as the walk passes through some magnificent scenery during its forty-two miles.