A new book featuring 20 walking routes in and around Liverpool has hit the shelves of local bookshops.
‘We wrote these walks with a bit of heart and soul.’
The book, Liverpool Hidden Walks, by Claire E. Rider and Neil McDonald, is a result of a collaboration with publisher HarperCollins, which has re-invented the well known A – Z maps into a series of guides.
After publishing tours around major UK cities like London, York or Oxford, it decided to add Liverpool to the series.
The Liverpool guide enables readers to follow lesser-known circuits and secret spots or re-discover already-known locations.
Authors Claire and Neil are a local power couple who partner not only in life but also in business.
The duo have been running Brilliant Tours and Beatles walks for seven years.
As Claire described, last year was the first real bounce back in the business after the COVID-19 pandemic.
And that was also when she was contacted by one of the biggest publishers in the world.
Claire said: “It was ridiculous to say yes but what did I say? I said yes.”
Neil said: “This was a wonderful opportunity. As Claire said, when the pandemic came along, our businesses we’ve worked really hard to build up over 10 years basically disappeared over night.
“We’ve been together 10 years now which is really nice and for us it felt like a really good opportunity to cement everything we’ve done.”
The Geographer’s A-Z Street Atlas, commonly shortened to A-Z, were once the famous maps which everybody had.
These were superseded by Google maps and other online mapping services but, as Claire said: “We all remember. Because nothing ever went wrong with these.”
As Claire also pointed out: “A-Z was set up by a woman in London, in I think about the 1920s.”
Now, after over a 100 years, the iconic maps are gaining a new life.
The ‘Walk of Shame’
When asked about their favourite walks in the book Claire answered: “We wrote these walks with a bit of heart and soul in it. And the most important walk in the book, for me, is the Slavery Walk. It really is.”
She said that it may not necessarily be her favourite walk but that it is the most important one and the one that makes her the most proud.
Claire said “We can write about the ships and the shipping, we can write about football, we can write about the Beatles – but the most important injustice that we need to consider as people who live in Britain and have generally acquired some sort of wealth, is the debt paid by a lot of people who were taken from West Africa and sent to work on plantations.”
The duo also stressed that it was important for them to ‘get it right’ and that they thought through every single word used.
Claire had hoped to achieve something quite hard-hitting, especially in comparison to the rest of the book.
In the book the walk appears as Sugar, Slavery and Shame.
However, Claire said: “When you read it, I want you to look at the title and think this is the walk of shame.”
This dark part of the city’s history and “the injuring impact of the slave trade on the landscape of Liverpool is explored on this circular walk”, she summed up.
‘You go out on a sunny day and the light catches your eye on something you haven’t seen’
According to Claire and Neil, they actually wrote the book with a local audience in mind.
Neil said: “Most of the walks are circular walks but my personal favourite is a linear walk which starts by the titanic hotel. That’s my favourite because it’s something you wouldn’t do unless you picked the book up.”
Often we don’t appreciate our surroundings enough. In the every-day rush a lot of little, beautiful things goes unnoticed.
Claire said: “The thing is, you go out on a sunny day and the light catches your eye on something you haven’t seen.”
“You go around and you see new things everyday according to the weather. When it’s raining you might shelter in a doorway, and you might notice something unexpected.
She added: “There is a lot to see and I think as locals we never quite appreciate the city we were born in and I come from Nottingham.”
As a final remark, Claire and Neil said they would like people to enjoy the city.
Neil said: “I’m hoping that people will pick the book up, local people, and say let’s to this walk.
“And if they like it they’ll say lets do another one, and another one.”
Claire added: “If you go on a walk and you enjoy it – tell your friends.”