Around the Coast in 80 Days by Peter Naldrett – Review
By David Schuster
Despite the title, Around the Coast in 80 Days is not a travelogue, but rather a clever and vibrant guide to highlights of the British seaside. Ironically, author Peter Naldrett lives in landlocked Sheffield, roughly mid-way between the East and West shores. However, this may be why he took the admirable decision to start at Liverpool, almost directly west of his home. The descriptions then run clockwise round our island home.
The sites detailed are a pleasing mixture of the well-known, Holy Island, Whitby, Padstow and Saint David’s, along with other, wilder spots; Spurn Head, Dungeness, The Wash and the Mull of Galloway. Whether your ideal seaside location has amusement arcades, rock and donkey rides or windswept beaches where you can hear the eerie calling of seals, and there’s only your footsteps in the wet sand, this is the guide for you. Each entry is accompanied by easily digestible information boxes covering reasons to visit, how to get there and suggestions on where to stay.
It’s impossible to read this book without beginning to plan new journeys. For a long time, I’ve intended to spend a long weekend in Cromarty, in the Spey Bay area, in order to see the wild dolphins of the Moray Firth. Learning that I could combine this with visits to Slains Castle, Bram Stoker’s inspiration for Castle Dracula, and photogenic Bow Fiddle Rock have pushed this to the top of my travel wish list once again.
Officially, this is a paperback, but that description sells it short. With its sturdy card cover, with handy gatefold flaps allowing them to be used as page markers, it lies somewhere between hardback and paperback; a ‘firmback’, if you like. In this instance, it is warranted to judge a book by its cover; the production levels throughout are exemplary with crisp vibrant colour photographs on almost every page, clear layout and a charming, subtly changing, footer on each page. It has clearly been created with a lot of love and respect by author and publisher alike.
Peter Naldrett’s latest work will undoubtedly be popular enough to prompt new editions in the future, and for those I would request that one concern be addressed: the whole of Wales receives only eight entries and the unparalleled beauty of Scotland’s western seaboard the same number. By contrast, the South West gets almost twice that. I’d suggest reducing the better-known entries for Devon and Cornwall, in order to increase those of Wales and Scotland. However, I recognise that selecting only eighty gems from our coasts is a difficult and unenviable task!
As well as being an informative guide, this is also entertainingly written, and includes an interesting array of facts with which you can entertain family and friends, or possibly score additional points in a pub quiz. How much paint does it take to cover the Forth Bridge? 240,000 litres! And, did you know that Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi made the first ever wireless transmissions from the clifftops of Cornwall’s Lizard peninsula? Where is the world’s longest pier? Southend-On-Sea, as it turns out.
Around the Coast in 80 Days is a book that offers years’ worth of reward for its moderate cover price; its beauty is not that it tells you everything that you need to know about any one area, but rather that it achieves the feat of providing an engaging overview of the whole 19,500 miles of the varied British shoreline in a very digestible form, allowing you to decide where your next holiday might take you.
‘Around the Coast in 80 Days’ by Peter Naldrett is published by Bloomsbury (Paperback: £16.99, ebook: £16.30)