This is summer: Books

Armchair travellers look no further; these books about Britain will take you from beach to hilltop – and give tips to those who are on the road

A Year in the Life of the Isle of Skye, By Bill Birkett
(£14.99, Frances Lincoln)

This latest in a prize-winning series of 'year in the life' travel books, takes as backdrop Bonnie Prince Charlie's flight and follows its spectacular landscapes through the seasons. The lavish pictures by photographer and mountain writer Bill Birkett are enough to make anyone want to follow Charlie...

B-Road Britain, by Robbie Coltrane
(£17.99, Bantam Press)

To travel hopefully is better than to arrive, but if your summer holiday tends more to the 'are we there yet?' then this will liven up those sweaty back roads. Taking the slow route around Britain (it took him six weeks), Coltrane takes in cheese-chasing and Star Trek conventions along with some uniquely British humour.

Collins Britain Fold-Out Road Atlas
(£12.99, Collins)

There's a Victoria Wood sketch in which the driver in front is wearing a pork pie hat and she is trying to direct him up a fold in the map... Avoid being that couple with a roadmap that not only contains the whole of Britain but also fits in a map pocket (genius!). Still, take your Tupperware.

Go Slow England, by Alastair Sawday
(£19.99, Sawdays)

The Slow Food Movement started in Italy in 1986 when McDonald's attempted to open a restaurant on the Piazza Navona. Next came Slow Cities, a Slow Manifesto and now Go Slow England – a guide to the places that value happiness, calm and the environment over the pack-it-all-in city mini-break. Breathe...

Wild Swim, by Kate Rew
(£16.99, Guardian Books)

Despite containing a glossary that offers 34 ways of saying 'it's cold', this guide to the pools, bogs and waterways of Britain is weirdly enticing. From the relatively lightweight Tooting Bec Lido in London to skinny dipping with seals off the coast of Scotland, kindly advice and maps make 'wild water' beginners want to plunge right in.

The Most Amazing Places on Britain's Coast
(£14.99, Reader's Digest)

Any travel book with a soft spot for Seahouses has to be worth a second look, and this quirky guide to those fab places you never knew existed is a fine start to any summer. With a new spin-off guide to amazing places on Britain's coast, you'll struggle to pack it all in.

Wildwood, by Roger Deakin
(£20, Penguin)

One critic recently called Deakin's books some of 'the finest ever written about man's relationship with nature', and Wildwood shows why. Starting at his Suffolk farmhouse, which contains 323 beams, Deakin found himself in rooky woods and apple orchards and sought out the one variety of willow that is used for cricket bats. Beautiful.

The Wild Places, by Robert MacFarlane
(£18.99, Granta)

A true heir to the great travel writer Roger Deakin, who was his friend and mentor, MacFarlane sets out to find out how much real wilderness is left in our islands. In this lyrical journey up England, through remotest Scotland and across to the Burren in County Clare, in night walks and freezing bivouacs, this magical writer finds plenty to explore.

Coast: The Walks
(£16.99, BBC Books)

This neat spin-off from the BBC series Coast shows armchair explorers and hardened hikers alike how to get around the edges of Britain in the most picturesque ways. There are over 50 mapped walks, helpfully graded. As presenter Nicholas Crane never tired of exclaiming, 'Remember, you are never more than 72 miles from the sea!'

Wainwright Anniversary Boxed Set, by A Wainwright
(£89.99, Frances Lincoln)

There are collected Wainwrights, there are DVD sets and 'TV Walks' but, if you can afford it, this Pictorial Guide to the Fells 1–7 is a beautiful thing. With enhanced drawings that show the loving detail of the originals, this truly reflects Wainwright's legacy. And if you ever get bored with looking at it, you could even use it to go walking.


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