Home and Garden

AA Walking Guides 2024 Review


Reviewed by Lisa Harris

As keen campers and walkers with varying mobility abilities we were looking forward to receiving a selection of these updated 2024 edition guides. Our usual route planning involves a combination of map apps or areas we are familiar with so coming at it from a different angle was interesting. There are 31 titles in the series covering most of England and Wales, we received 4 of them.

What was immediately noticeably nice about these guides is they are a really user friendly ‘pick up and read’ books. They wouldn’t be out of place on any household coffee table or any BnB / hotel / camper’s bookshelf. We both sat and flicked through, picking out interesting area facts, suggestions and admired some of the photos inside. It was easy to become engrossed in the guides and genuinely interested in the information that was provided.

Having flicked through a few other kinds of walking guides I have previously found others to be a ‘bit dry,’ lacking in structure or information relevant to me, and a bit on the expensive side for what was on offer.

These AA guides are in a different league.

Each book has an easy reference contents page. This lists each of the 50 walks by colour code green – easy, amber – intermediate and red – hard. Each has a gradient rating of 1 –3; 1 some slopes, 2 some steep slopes and 3 several very steep slopes. The distance is listed in miles as well as Kms and the page number is next to each clear.

The route map legends are clear and standardised, which makes them easy to read and compare. The walk route is in red, adjoining paths in black. Places of interest are dotted; woodland and built-up areas are colour coded (green and orange respectively). Steep sections are signed as a mountain and viewpoints look like sun rays. Picnic areas and car parks are also marked. Each book has an “Exploring the area section.” This is a general information section of a couple of pages and includes some background information mixed with some history. A short section is included about open spaces, town and country in the West Yorkshire book, North Yorkshire is all general information. Shropshire talks of The Severn and Long Mynd and The Wrekin, whereas the Brecon Beacons and South Wales talks of a tale of two parks, Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) and the best of south Wales. Each guide also includes a public transport note which comments on train and buses where appropriate.

Each guide also includes a double page about walking in safety and includes a section on risks (cliffs, tides, roads, farms, weather, survival) and the countryside code (consider others co-operate with those working, leave as you find, leave animals and machinery alone, use stiles or gates where you can, value heritage. There is a section on how to protect the natural environment (leave no trace, dog etiquette and safety and how to enjoy the outdoors – check the countryside code on the government website for more information on this.

I loved the uniform approach to each walk. Each one begins by telling you the following:

Distance and expected time – the time is without stops and assumes you have reasonable fitness

Ascent/ gradient – listed in feet as well as meters with a rating of 1-3

Paths – identifies field paths, where is likely to be muddy, frequent stiles, road or town walking, coastal route, forest tracks, moorland, stony walks, quiet lanes, farmland, estate paths, tarmac paths, sandy paths, city pavements, hillside climbs….

Landscape – historic city, 360 views, farmland, moorland, lowland heath, woodland, valleys, coastline, Wolds, open ridges, cobbled lanes, arable, woods, pastures, canal sides, parkland, gardens, lakes, heathers, rolling countryside. …

Suggested map start/finish reference – a 6-digit 2 letter OS grid reference. (This made it easy to compare and use along with the OS app we usen and was accurate on all we checked).

Dog friendliness – Helpful general information, although as mentioned in the ‘how to use this book’ section, dogs should be kept under control, especially around livestock.

Parking – mostly public, some are layby or roadside, pay and display is indicated where appropriate.

Public toilets – some are located by car parks, some have none on route, others have town or other venues close by.

There is then a couple of paragraphs to a page telling you interesting specific information, things to look out for and where on the walk, historical facts on what you will see, a bit more detail about the local area folklore and current interest. You get a real sense of the area reading this section.

There is then a picture map of the walk itself, followed by detailed descriptions of the walks in usually 4-8 stages, each being a few sentences long. These include the points of reference you will see, where to turn, which road to take, styles to use, how far to walk or how high you will climb and so on. They also note on some where to look out for farm animals or tricky paths.

At the end of each walk there is addition information which covers the same three areas each time:

Where to eat and drink – pubs, tearooms, restaurants, hotels, cafes. Some indicate known opening times, indoor/outdoor seating, homecooked and traditional options.

What to look out for / What to see – wildlife, historical interest, lesser-known local facts, views not to miss,

While you’re there (not every walk includes this section due to locations) – other things to do close by include places of historical interest, guided tours, experiences, heritage centres, museums and nearby towns

Pricing & value
With each guide having a RRP of £13.99 as a concise detailed reference book I would say they are worth their money for a personal purchase or as a gift.

Usage suggestions

If you are planning a trip to a particular area or simply looking to further explore somewhere are already familiar to you, these make a great handheld guide to flick through and probably return to again and again. Easy to fit into your rucksack, glove box or tuck them onto the bookshelf for reference and future planning.

The guides are readable for any one from teenage onwards, so if you are looking for practice walks for your Duke of Edinburgh, ideas for a Sunday stroll with friends or family, or perhaps something a bit more challenging for yourself, these are a great place to start.

They would make a great gift for anyone who is interested in exploring a particular area a little more but doesn’t know how or where to start, for those who are seasoned walkers looking for new ideas, for those just looking to get into exercise in the outdoors starting with something easier but with ideas to progress to, or even for a handy addition to the holiday guides to take with you on your travels. As keen campers we liked to look at these along with the camping guides to match up walks with sites nearby. I have previously reviewed the AA Caravan and Camping guide 2024 which you can read here https://whatsgoodtodo.com/the-aa-camping-and-caravan-guide-2024-review/

My personal views

I would recommend these to others for sure, the more I look at them the more interested I am and find myself thinking “This looks a nice walk!” As a family with varying abilities, we can’t always walk together, so what was nice was to be able to pick a location, then look for walks we could do together, or some could do alone when visiting a new area or heading out locally somewhere new.

I would buy these myself if we were planning on visiting a new area, or wanted to learn more about where I was currently.

There are Apps you can use for this kind of thing, but for me, nothing beats a book in my hand I can curl up with, take out with me, write my own notes in, and refer to time after time!

Rating: 5/5
RRP: £13.99 each
Buy it here: AA Walking Guides | AA RatedTrips.com

Show More
Back to top button