Book Review: WILD guide to North East England

Book Review: WILD guide to North East England

Inspire vb. to exert a stimulating or beneficial effect upon a a person; animate or invigorate

I wanted to check that I was not misusing this word because rather than wild, I found this guide of the North East totally inspiring. It is inspiration from cover to cover.

The front cover image gives you a favourable and accurate impression of the quality of the content, for the guide is jam-packed with stunning photographs of recommended places to visit that are off the beaten track and the best haunts known to locals or, so-called ‘hidden gems’.

The writer has meticulously researched and visited, tried and tested, grid-referenced and photographed as well as written detailed descriptions of how to locate all of the places she recommends. Whilst it provides armchair escapism, for the photos are beautiful works of art in themselves, this was not an armchair project undertaken during lockdown. This book is the end product of what must have taken hundreds of hours of walking, driving and exploring not to mention the laborious editing process required to create such diverse range of featured locations.

The guide is rich and balanced, in terms of geography and content. If you are not familiar with the Wild guide format, as I wasn’t, there is a breadth of topics to suit all types of explorer, whether they be most interested in panoramic vistas, wildlife and nature, heritage and history, foodie treats, family fun or skinny dipping! The book is subdivided into chapters by geographical area starting starting is mostly Northern point close to the Scottish Border and travelling gradually Southwards until you arrive at Spurn Head near Hull. But the regions of interest are not restricted to the East Coast, some chapters also track inland to incorporate places of interest such as Hadrian’s Wall, County Durham, the North York Moors, and the Yorkshire Wolds.

Helpfully and logically there are colour codes so readers can easily identify the water-related locations, historical sites or best pubs, delis and cafes and places to camp. I was impressed and amazed with the detail. There is nothing that has not been considered to make your days out as reliably referenced as possible. Information about opening and closing times, best places to park and other useful tips for families or persons with access issues are all included along with useful websites to visit, should your appetite be sufficiently whetted and you have a thirst to know even more.

There are also thoughtful reminders about the Country Code, how to be a responsible and safe explorer and the dangers to the fragile eco-systems of waterways should you neglect to wash swimwear or wetsuits between one lake and the next waterfall.

Returning to my initial thought – Inspiration. The book will make it much easier to set off for an unfamiliar region with the confidence that you are not going to miss stumbling across a place that you will love, remember and want to return to. Whilst the novelty of a genuine discovery is a lovely experience, in this time-poor world what many of us require is a pointer. A reliable, user-friendly resource we can trust, created by someone who has made all the wrong turns, drank the dud coffee and visited the underwhelming ‘beauty spots’. Someone who has already firmly crossed them off their list so that we don’t have to experience that sense of disappointment. Sarah Banks is that person and I thank and admire her for her diligence.

Get ready to be inspired! I know I am biased but the North East of England really does have it all.


Wild swimming in remote waterfalls, lakes and coves

Easy scrambles up peaks and hidden valleys

Sunset hill forts, lost ruins and smugglers’ caves

Ancient forests and wildlife-rich meadows

Sacred sites, holy wells and standing stones

Best farm shops, micro-breweries and gastropubs

Wild camping and sites with campfires

Secluded hideaways, cottages and cabins


Sarah Banks is a writer, photographer and journalist, living in North Yorkshire. She has worked as a journalist on newspapers, magazines and websites across the UK, lived in Paris, teaching English, and toured internationally as a wardrobe mistress with the Royal Shakespeare Company. To find out more visit