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Holy Dee, The

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  • Holy Dee, The
  • ISBN: 9781845243975
  • Pete Evans
  • Publication: May 2021
  • Format: Paperback, 150x155 mm, 216 pages

The Holy Dee, ever changing, ever constant. From her open-mouthed estuary, she follows a man-made channel, through Roman founded Chester and picturesque Llangollen, to dissenting Bala.

There is a vogue these days for grand walking tours in Wales whether it is along the coastal path, the length of Offas Dyke, or following one of the medieval pilgrim routes. Pete Evans has joined the fray with an account of walking the length of the River Dee from its estuary at Hilbre Island to its source at Y Dduallt. Unlike some walks, his is discontinuous, and sometimes he reaches a particular stretch by car or bicycle.

He has written up his experiences in The Holy Dee, published in Gwasg Carreg Gwalchs excellent Compact Cymru series. The book is lavishly illustrated with photographs taken by the authors wife, Sophia Evans.

The Dee winds its way through a wide variety of environments, from early and more recent industrial sites (including Shotton Steelworks) to marshland, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, the city of Chester, and the remains of several thousand years of human occupation, from stone circles, to Roman encampments, and of course numerous churches and castles, very many of which are discussed in detail alongside evocative photographs.

Pete Evans is familiar with them all, because he has been exploring the Dee and its environs for many years. He is also a very good naturalist and is informative especially of the birdlife along its reaches. As someone interested in birds myself, I was impressed by the sheer variety of species he encounters and in many cases by their numbers.

The book is really two books rolled into one. It is a personal account of one mans love affair with the river, but it is also a gazetteer of the many places of interest along its length, which makes it invaluable for anyone who is planning a visit to the area. It is not the sort of guide book you would want to carry in your pocket, but it is one to consult before setting out, or perhaps on your return to check Pete Evanss experience against your own.

Coming from south Wales and living in the west means that the Dee is not a river I am very familiar with at all, only having touched on it at a few points like Chester and Llangollen, but The Holy Dee made me want to explore it further with Pete Evanss book in my bag.

John Barnie