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Village Art & Literature

The coolest way to travel

Posted on June 19 2010 at 1:29:36 0 comments

Mooring on the Stourbridge Canal

Two new guidebooks offer ideas for enjoying canalside amenities across the UK.

After the success of their first book last year, waterway wanderers Phillippa Greenwood and Martine O’Callaghan have published two more installments in their Cool Canals series: Weekend Walks and Pub Days Out.

In the six years since they set off from Alvechurch to travel the canals of Britain, first in a narrowboat and then on a mission to walk every canal in the land, the women have gathered a wealth of information.

Initially intending to create an online guide on their website,, they found they had enough material for a book or several, and set up their own publishing company to bring this about.

For those whose canalside wanderings are a hobby rather than a way of life, Weekend Walks is a guide to some of the best towpath walks in the UK – all of which can be accomplished in a couple of days. Ranging from two to 12 miles in length, all the walks are suitable for novices as well as experienced walkers, and the authors have ensured that each one is refreshingly different.

All areas of the country are covered, from mountains to marshes, from the wild Highlands to the industrial inland water-ways, and the handy titles (“Teashop Trail”, “Land of Mills & Moors”, “Seagulls & Sails”) let you know what to expect on the journey.

All the relevant information is provided, from fascinating facts and historical landmarks to step-by-step directions and a list of good places to eat, drink or spend the night.

If you’ve read Cool Canals, visited the website or caught up with their doings via The Village, you’ll be aware that the ladies love a good pint – and their other new guide, Pub Days Out, is a celebration of their favourite canalside pubs and fantastic real ales.

Again, the book travels the length and breadth of Britain, calling in at friendly pubs full of character and history – not forgetting Alvechurch’s very own Weighbridge.

Martine and Phillippa have unashamedly picked their own favourites to feature in the guide, which also serves as an exhortation to discover and support small local inns and real ale breweries rather than identikit pub chains serving ice-cold lager and playing loud music.

There’s information on the traditions and origins of canal pubs, tips on everything from the food to the toilets, and ideas for turning your visit into a full day out.

Of course, both books are full of lovely photos to entice the reader to discover a whole new world.

Weekend Walks and Pub Days Out are available at good bookshops priced £12.99 each, or from

All the books are printed on FSC paper using 100% vegetable-based inks, and printed and bound in the UK by Butler Tanner & Dennis in Somerset.

Pub Days Out book cover

Weekend Walks book cover

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