It’s not too much of a stretch to assume that someone who has dedicated their career to geology would be partial to a good walk; Derby-based Martin Whitely being a case in point.

Alongside colleague Albert Benghiat, Martin has combined these complementing passions to develop a meticulously-planned, 14-section Peak District walk which contemplates the rock and landforms we all love – but may know little about.

‘Albert and I are both geologists but, crucially, we just love walking,’ explains Martin.

‘Whimsically, I think most walkers have an affinity for the landscapes they find themselves in and we thought it might be a nice idea to provide geological information, which can really enhance a walk.

‘In a way, the Peak District GeoWalk acts as a complement to natural observations we all make. We’ve all been rambling and come across something special, such as spotting a red kite or kestrel. Such experiences can really make a walk.

‘That’s our hope for this. We want people to say: ‘I understand why the Manifold disappears into a sinkhole’ and ‘I get why people are trying to block up the drains on Kinder Scout and keep the water up there.’

‘Geology feeds into so many aspects of our lives and I think people quite like making those links.’

The Peak District GeoWalk was launched on January 1 and is available as a free download online.

Great British Life: Martin loves to share his passion for geology with other keen walkers Photo: peakdistrictgeowalk.orgMartin loves to share his passion for geology with other keen walkers Photo:

The circular walk passes through some of the finest Peak District scenery and the website explains how the local rocks and landforms have contributed to the landscape, influenced our heritage and fashioned modern living.

Starting and finishing in Matlock, the 215km route is divided into 14 sections which can be accessed from any point and undertaken as a series of day walks.

More detailed information is available in the individual walk sections (each free to download); which includes a route map and written instructions for navigating.

The narrative is supplemented with photographs and insights into the various rock outcrops, views and landforms experienced during each walk.

Originally hailing from Somerset and as a career geologist Martin could, presumably, have focused on any number of locations. So why the Peak District?

‘I think it’s almost the perfect place. It’s a relatively simple story but the landscapes they produce are dramatic and stunning,’ he suggests.

‘It has variety but, interestingly, not too much variety and I think that’s quite important.

‘If you go somewhere like Shropshire or Snowdonia the geology is very varied and quite complicated. It’s difficult to get your head around the rock forms and how they relate to the land.

‘In the Peak District, rocks are of a similar age and there are essentially two types – limestone and then the sandstone and gritstone. They’re very distinctive and that’s part of the beauty.

‘Dovedale for example looks completely different from Kinder Scout and the gritstone edges look completely different from High Torr or Winnatts Pass so, in a way, the relative simplicity of the Peak District’s geology makes it easier to grasp when out experiencing it.’

The extensive project, years in the making, is, for Martin, clearly a labour of love.

‘I’ve been a walker all my life, I have my parents to thank for that,’ he says. ‘Bringing together an interest in landforms, geology and walks is a natural thing.

‘I’m incapable of walking or driving through a landscape without wondering how it all fits together! I’ve always been curious.’

For so much work, expertise and planning to go into something which is then made free is rare. Yet, for Martin, the decision made perfect sense.

Great British Life: Co-author Albert Benghiat out in the Peak District Photo: peakdistrictgeowalk.orgCo-author Albert Benghiat out in the Peak District Photo:

‘We considered publishing it as a traditional guidebook to buy,’ says Martin who, along with Albert and friend and experienced walker Brian Cousins, have done the entire route numerous times to finetune and ensure accuracy.

‘We had a publisher lined up but when we started to lay out the text with the maps and photography it became impossible, given its length, to produce something that could tuck into your back pocket.

‘We thought carefully about how to get it out there because we felt really committed to launching it. The website option quickly became the obvious solution.

‘We decided pretty early on to make it free to download. We might set up a JustGiving charity page down the line where people who use and enjoy it can donate to Mountain Rescue or something like that but at the moment it’s more appealing for our readers to make it completely free.’

Having traversed the routes, which sections for Martin particularly stand out?

‘I like the western part of the Peak District, the Roaches and places like Hen Cloud,’ he reveals.

‘If you walk down the eastern edges you’re looking into the heart of the Peak District but views out across the Cheshire plain are new to many walkers. It tends to be a bit quieter and has a slightly different feel to it.

‘That said, the first section, from Matlock to Winster, takes some beating, including all the different rock types in one section. It’s the ideal introduction – a bit of everything in the first 12 miles.’

If feedback is anything to go by, all Martin and Albert’s work appears to have been worth it.

‘We’ve been overwhelmed and quite humbled by the response,’ concludes Martin.

‘We’ve had tens of thousands of downloads already and not just from people in Derbyshire but across the world. The reaction has been amazing.

All sections of the walk are available to download at