It was a spring day in 2013 – was it really a year ago?
I was helping to organise the Cake Race, which is a local fell race organised by Saddleworth Runners Club – of which I am the Chairman. I was out on the moors with my son, flagging the route, when we came across a dog which had been lost or abandoned. It had clearly been out on the hills for a few days and was in a very bad state of health. Whilst trying to help the poor animal, it feared for its safety and attacked me, sinking its teeth into my hand. By the end of the day my injured hand had swollen up to the size of a small football, as a severe infection set in. The following day I couldn’t move my hand and the pain became almost unbearable. A visit to the hospital, confirmed I had five deep puncture wounds and a partially severed tendon, which resulted in my arm being immobilised. A course of strong antibiotics was prescribed along with strict instructions to take two weeks off work. I didn’t know it at the time, but that dog bite would dominate my life for the next 12 months.
For some time now I had been playing around with writing a book about fell running, but had always wanted to write a walking guidebook for the place where I was born – Saddleworth. Not being one for sitting around idle, I took advantage of my enforced sick leave and set to work with eagerness recceing suitable routes in and around Saddleworth. Armed with my Dictaphone I explored a different route every day for two weeks, discovering new people and places which I found I previously knew little about.
Eventually my hand began to heal and I was able to once again hold a pen and operate a computer. I set about typing up my notes and researching my findings. The more I learnt about our beautiful corner of the former historic West Riding of Yorkshire, the deeper I became enthralled and wanted to know more. In addition to working full time and honouring all of my other commitments, I worked nightly on the book into the early hours of the morning. For weeks at a time I would do twenty hour days in a row, foregoing quality sleep as my passion for my new project grew.
Eventually the initial writing and research was done, and it was time to start working on the final draft. What I thought would be the final draft was, after being proof read several times, actually the first of many amendments.
Whilst my passion for writing grew, it was not all plain sailing. There were times when I became frustrated and I questioned whether or not my book would ever make it to print. When I started writing back in May 2013, I thought the whole process would be as simple as producing a word document, taking a few photos and sending the whole thing off to a printer. What little I knew about the publishing world!
Intending to self-publish my book, I now needed to learn the ins and outs of publishing. Luckily I had contact with a couple of authors who had previous experience of self-publishing. Round the world cyclists and adventurers, Alastair Humphreys and Tom Allen, both provided me with invaluable advice, which would help steer me on a positive course. As knowledge of my project grew, others came on board and offered their support. This collaboration of enthusiastic friends would make the whole process much easier and added an extra element of fun.
First on board was my friend Ray Green, of www.raygreenphotography.co.uk . Ray is an accomplished and locally acclaimed photographer, who has a passion for photographing Saddleworth’s rugged landscape in black and white format. His stunning photographs will soon be displayed across the pages of my book.
Using some of Ray’s brilliant photographs another friend, Lee Copplestone, designed several front cover samples to be used for initial marketing purposes. People’s interest in my book grew, and the genuine offers of help increased.
The old saying, “it’s not what you know but who you know” often rings true. Whilst I had learnt a lot about writing and self-publishing, I had no knowledge whatsoever about how to design the layout of the book and put it into a format ready for printing. However, another friend, Rob Taylor, who runs his own graphic design company, www.likeariver.co.uk, came to the rescue. It would be Rob who, at times when I really did begin to doubt if I would ever get my book published, would offer a guiding hand and settle my doubts.
Now, a year down the line, my dream of publishing my first book is dawning. Saddleworth Discovery Walks is a detailed guidebook containing 20 magnificent walks exploring the history, people and stunning landscape of this beautiful corner of the ancient West Riding of Yorkshire. Each walk includes an illustrated sketch map of the route and a selection of stunning landscape photographs, which I hope will urge the reader to venture out onto the hills and into the valleys to discover more of Saddleworth’s rich history.
You can pre-order a personally signed copy of Saddleworth Discovery Walks, which is due for publication in July, by visiting www.saddleworthdiscoverywalks.co.uk
I hope you enjoy reading my book and that it enthuses you to step out and discover more about our beautiful corner of the former ancient West Riding of Yorkshire.