Most of Scotland's longer-established and better-known long distance walks have been covered by guide books in the past, often repeatedly. As a result, producers of guides are increasingly turning their attention to less well known and less obvious walks, meaning that some real gems are emerging as alternatives for those looking to put themselves off the beaten track. The Annandale Way is a waymarked long distance path covering 90km or 85km, depending on whether you choose to travel via Lochmaben or Lockerbie. Its waymarking means it is not literally unbeaten, but you can certainly count on it being much less busy than better known walks such as the West Highland Way.
The Annandale Way takes as its starting point the town of Moffat and then does a loop over high ground to the north, which itself makes an excellent circular walk. The way then heads south along, as you might expect, Annandale - the broad valley of the River Annan - before eventually reaching the Solway Firth, an arm of the Irish Sea, at Newiebarns, south of Annan. The route is traditionally followed from north to south, and this excellent guide is organised with that in mind: though there is a section at the back describing the route in reverse for those who might like to tackle the stiffer upland sections at the end of their walk, or who fancy walking the route with the sun at their back rather than in their face (this may be Scotland, but even here you need to think about the position of the sun).
Anyone who has used a Rucksack Readers long distance walk guide in the past will know exactly what to expect from this book, and will certainly not be disappointed. For those who haven't, you get a beautifully researched and presented book in a truly robust package comprising a spiral binding and waterproof paper (because, being Scotland, you also need to consider the possibility of rain). The first third or so of the book comprises beautifully illustrated introductory sections in full colour about the walk itself, covering topics such as access, waymarking, accommodation and packing. There are then sections on farming, forestry and energy; on history; and on habitats and wildlife. Most of the rest of the guide breaks the Annandale Way into a series of route sections, and for each gives detailed route instructions, nice photographs, and excellent full-page maps. The result is everything you could possibly need in one handily-sized guide that fits perfectly, as the name suggests, into your rucksack. This is an essential book for anyone considering walking the Annandale Way: or for anyone who fancies tackling a walk not all of their friends will already have done.