I'm completely stunned - in a good way - by the online review my book has been given by Mark Rainsley. I'll link to it properly when I get home (still travelling in the Greek islands) but thus is from the website. Cheers Mark!
I've held back on commenting on this, because I've actually been struggling to define/categorise Simon's book in my head. I've finally decided that writing a formal review of this book is actually more effort than I can be asked to exert, because it would actually be pretty tricky to do justice to what this book achieves.
So I'll just throw a few general observations out there, recommend that everyone buys and reads it, and leave it at that.
Design/layout standards are probably the best I've seen from Pesda/Pete Woods yet, which is no small comment. Only niggle is that there are many small photos that I would have liked to have enjoyed in a larger size. Indeed, while we're on niggles, I had might as well get my only other niggle out of the way - that there is some very mild but unnecessary 'product placement' in the book - e.g. I wonder whether it was appropriate/valid to namedrop the PH Cetus as a stable boat for the journey, and in any case the boat (and tent etc) may well date quicker than the book. Okay, the book. It obviously describes a 'trail' but the odd thing is, reading through, how little it actually feels like that - you don't feel like you're reading a linear ticklist description, and this is a good thing.
Without wanting to go all pseudy and pretentious, I actually felt like I was absorbing the description impressionistically (I *think* that's a real word?). Simon is conveying the sense of journeying more than dryly describing a route. It's also a great introduction/primer on planning a trip (any trip) and enjoying it - 40ish pages are devoted just to this. It's a guidebook, but not in the sense of previous Pesda sea kayak guidebooks – indeed, although present, the nitty gritty navigational/tidal/travel info is unobtrusively tucked away. It's more of an appreciation of the joys of journeying through the area it describes - which happens to be the west coast of Scotland, but ... weirdly, reading this, I found myself not caring too much about the specific location - what I mean is, the writing and descriptions are so fluid and engaging, that I'd have carried on reading avidly, regardless of whether I was particularly interested in making a visit or not (and indeed, the fact that I've already paddled the 'trail' had no bearing either way on my interest level).
What Simon has really produced is a superb celebration of all that is so fantastic about our sport. Reading through reminds me why I sea kayak, simple as that (and indeed, why I set up the UKSKG website).
I can't believe that the guy has produced this after having been paddling just a few years. The jaded curmudgeons who rumble about protecting their sport and their favourite places from 'hordes' and similar nonsense should flick through a copy of this, and be reminded what it's really all about. If above I've completely failed to tell you anything specific about the book, it's because it is so hard to categorise. Just buy it and enjoy it. All credit to the author and all involved, It's no mean feat and I genuinely believe that it is a step forward for UK sea kayaking.