Walking Book Stocking Fillers

Looking for a stocking-filler for a member of the family or a friend who enjoys walking and the countryside?

Why not order one of my titles, available now in paperback as well as on eReader?

Order now in time for Christmas!

Just click on the links below to place an order…


In a series of solitary journeys on foot the writer and novelist John Bainbridge explores the ethos of rambling and hiking in rural England and Scotland. On his journeys he seeks out the remaining wild places and ancient trackways, meeting vagabonds and outdoors folk along the way and follows in the footsteps of writers, poets and early travellers.
This is a book for everyone who loves the British countryside and walking its long-established footpaths and bridleways.And for the armchair traveller…

Wayfarer’s Dole takes its title from an ancient tradition – In medieval times pilgrims travelling the road through Winchester to Canterbury would halt at the St Cross Hospital, a place of rest and refuge for those on holy journeys, and demand the Wayfarer’s Dole – small portions of ale and bread to ease the hunger and thirst incurred on their travels.

“This engrossing book by writer, novelist and one-time chief executive of the Dartmoor Preservation Association, John Bainbridge, explores the ethos of rambling via a series of short essays. The book takes its name from the medieval tradition of offering help to pilgrims on foot, but John’s own adventures take him deep into the moors, downs and mountains as he muses on everything from maps, roadside fires, stravaiging and the protection of our ancient footpaths. It’s a very personal but informed and intelligent journey that will resonate with inquisitive ramblers everywhere.” WALK MAGAZINE.



In 1932, five ramblers in England were imprisoned for daring to walk in their own countryside. The Mass Trespass on to Kinder Scout, which led to their arrests, has since become an iconic symbol of the campaign for the freedom to roam in the British countryside. The Compleat Trespasser – Journeys Into The Heart Of Forbidden Britain, written by outdoors journalist John Bainbridge, looks at just why the British were – and still are – denied responsible access to much of their own land. This ground-breaking book examines how events through history led to the countryside being the preserve of the few rather than the many. It examines the landscapes to which access is still denied, from stretches of moorland and downland to many of our beautiful forests and woodlands. It poses the question: should we walk and trespass through these areas regardless of restrictions? An inveterate trespasser, John Bainbridge gives an account of some of his own journeys into Britain’s forbidden lands, as he walks in the steps of poachers, literary figures and pioneer ramblers.




Walking in the countryside is Britain’s most popular recreation and rambling is the best way to get to know the quieter places of the British Isles. Rambling – The Beginner’s Bible gives you a very readable and basic introduction to the whole subject, suggesting places to walk, what to wear and what gear to take, the law concerning public footpaths and bridleways, how to plan a hill walk and a walking tour. It tells you how to combine rambling with other outdoor interests, seeing places that the car driver can only imagine. It concludes with some inspiring accounts of actual rambles in the British Isles – most of them suitable for the new rambler. John Bainbridge, who was recently commended for promoting country walking by the Ramblers Association, is an experienced walked and outdoor journalist, who has over fifty years experience of exploring the British countryside on foot.



Writing Robin Hood – Will Scarlet

Writing Robin Hood – Will Scarlet and Robin Hood

My new Robin Hood novel is progressing well, taking the story in what I hope are interesting new directions. All the usual suspects are there and the outlaws are – eventually – back in Sherwood Forest, though a fair bit happens before they get there.

But this is in many ways a tale of Will Scarlet as much as Robin Hood. Scarlet has always fascinated me. The character, under a variety of names, appears in the earliest of the surviving printed medieval ballads. Read those and he’s quite a polite dandy, perhaps named Scarlet because of his red stockings. About a year ago. I wrote a whole blog about Scarlet and his literary origins – I’ve placed it below to save you searching. It deals with Will Scarlet in literature, films and TV.

My new story throws all of the outlaws back even more on their own resources. Sherwood, always a dangerous place, has become even more perilous. There are new heroes and villains. And I take the old tale of the silver arrow even further. Only one book in the series to go after this, so this book is edging the characters towards a dramatic destiny.

I wanted to show the reality of being outlawed, made wolfshead. This new book is it.

The first two books in the saga, Loxley and Wolfshead are now out in paperback and as an eBook on Kindle. Please do spread the word and leave a reader’s review on the page if you bought them online. There are links to my author page just below if you’d like to see what other readers think about them. And if you’re looking for Christmas stocking-fillers for outlaw-inclined friends and family, well… Not having Rupert Murdoch’s advertising budget, I’d be very grateful…


My old blog on Will Scarlet


Anyone who got into the whole Robin Hood scene after the broadcasting of the television series “Robin of Sherwood” in the 1980s has an immediate image of Will Scarlet as someone who is bolshie, questioning, rebellious – even against Robin Hood when he has a disagreement over tactics – and one hell of a fighter. Often not a very merry man at all. Such is the impression made by Ray Winstone in the part in that series and the scriptwriting of Richard Carpenter. More on Mr Winstone anon.Loxley New Cover

But Will Scarlet wasn’t always represented in that way. In earlier versions, notably many of the films and the Richard Greene television version in the 1950s, Will is a much milder character. Usually portrayed as a kind of third in command, after Robin himself and Little John. And in some of the earlier versions, our Will is a bit of a dandy, a trifle flash, a gentleman amongst the outlaws. In one portrayal, I forget quite which, he even wears red tights to match his name! Enough said!

Now let’s go back a long way in the history of the legend. Unlike some of the later arrivals, such as Marian, Will Scarlet was right there at the beginning. In the earliest ballad “The Gest of Robin Hood”, Will is there, helping Robin capture Sir Richard at the Lea. In various versions of the tradition, Will has quite a variety of names. Will Scarlock, Scatlock, Scathelock, Scadlock, and several others. To complicate matters Anthony Munday in the 1590s, wrote a play in which there were two brothers, a Scarlet and a Scathelocke. It can all get very confusing!


And to add to the confusion, Robin Hood has another Will in his band, one Stutely. In some versions they get mixed up. When I was writing my Robin Hood novel “Loxley”, I made the two Wills relations by marriage. Having two characters with the same moniker is a pain for all writers. Normally you would never do it. I felt though that Stutely deserved his place in the saga.

There is also the ballad tradition that Will is somehow related to Robin Hood. In the ballad “Robin Hood and Will Scarlet”, Robin encounters young Will hunting deer in the forest. They have an archery contest and a fight (which Will wins really) before Robin invites him to join the band. His name is given as Will Gamwell, though he is wearing scarlet stockings which gives him the nickname. It is revealed in this ballad that Will is Robin’s nephew, the son of the outlaw chief’s sister. This idea of Scarlet as a relative continued in the Kevin Costner film “Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves” where a very rebellious young Will (played by Christian Slater) is revealed as Robin’s half-brother.Wolfshead Cover_edited-5

In the Richard Greene TV series, Will Scarlet was played by Ronald Howard and, subsequently, Paul Eddington. Useful sidekicks, but not much rebellion about them as far as I recall.

In the 1938 film “Robin Hood” starring Errol Flynn, Scarlet was played by the English actor Patric Knowles, as very much an obedient follower (David Niven was originally cast in the role but was away and couldn’t do it – it would be fascinating to know how he would have played it). A word too about Owen Teale who was Scarlet to Patrick Bergin’s Robin Hood in the film of the same name of 1991. Teale’s Scarlet is played as Robin’s aide and best friend in all the world. The two have a fine old time seeing off the Normans and, in some ways, the outlaws in Sherwood Forest. Terrific stuff and vastly entertaining. A shame, I feel, that this version was overshadowed by the Costner version.


And so back to Mr Winstone.

Tough, uncompromising, Winstone’s London accent, making him seem even more the outsider from the rest of the merries. The character’s wife murdered by the Normans. Scathlock, but Scarlet inside. Out for vengeance, seeking the blood of his enemies with little compromise. Red (Scarlet) with anger. We subsequently find out that he is a former soldier who has fought in the wars in Normandy. He’s a bruiser too, handy with his fists. You can believe that this Scarlet would really have survived in those troublous times. This Will Scarlet is a barely restrained killer.

He is shown in the first episode to be a better swordsman than Robin. Always seemingly on the edge of boiling over with his overwhelming hatred of his enemies. But though he may frequently be critical of Robin’s leadership, though he may have thoughts of replacing the leader, he shows – often at critical and emotional moments, a very moving loyalty, with a reined-in sense of humour. Winstone gives quite a performance.

And so I come to my own Will Scarlet in my novel “Loxley”. I adopted the tradition that he comes from Derby, which is suggested somewhere in one of the ballads. And, yes, I have given him the rebellious edge of the later Scarlets of film and television. He is the nominal leader of my outlaws until Robin arrives on the scene. He is destined to play a much greater part in the second novel which, will, hopefully be out at Christmas. My Scarlet is a brawler, someone with a cutting tongue too. I’ve made him with someone with an eye for the ladies. More of that in the next books. There are whole sides to his character yet to be revealed.

Do visit my author page at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-Bainbridge/e/B001K8BTHO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0


A Christmas Crime Stocking-Filler

If you are looking for a stocking-filler for a friend or family member who enjoys crime stories, why not try the paperback edition of our Norfolk-set mystery A Christmas Malice. Just click on the link below for more details, reader reviews and an order page. 

And – if you’re a British reader – you can enter the Goodreads giveaway to win one of three signed copies of A Christmas Malice. You can enter on the Goodreads website at http://www.goodreads.com.

A Christmas Malice

December 1873. Inspector Abbs is spending Christmas with his sister in a lonely village on the edge of the Norfolk Fens. He is hoping for a quiet week while he thinks over a decision about his future. However all is not well in Aylmer. Someone has been playing malicious tricks on the inhabitants. With time on his hands and concerned for his sister, Abbs feels compelled to investigate.. This complete tale is a novella of around 33,000 words. The events take place one month after the conclusion of Inspector Abbs’s first case, A Seaside Mourning.

Christmas-Malice-Kindle-Cover Reduced

You can find a full list of our books by clicking on the Our Books link above. All of them are available in paperback and as a Kindle eBook. A Christmas Malice is also available on Kobo and Nook eBook readers.

Robin Hood and Fountains Abbey

There’s a long tradition of Robin Hood connections with Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. Legend has it that Friar Tuck began his rather errant monkish career there, while just down from the ruins of the once-mighty abbey – now a World Heritage Site – is Robin Hood’s Wood and a well named after the famous outlaw.

Fountains Abbey (c) John Bainbridge 2016

It was certainly glorious there yesterday. We went really to see the beautiful autumn colours (absolutely stunning! But go in the next week or so to see them at their best if you can.)

The other reason we went was because of the new Robin Hood novel I’m writing. I mentioned Fountains Abbey in the first novel, Loxley, but thought it should figure more prominently in the third book. And as I’m just writing the sequence where Tuck finds himself back there and Robin Hood and his band just happen to be there at the same time, well…

In Robin Hood’s Wood (c) John Bainbridge 2016

All of my books begin with a setting, but with Robin, where I’m harking back to traditional tales, there are a number of settings. I placed my Robin Hood in Sherwood, but that doesn’t mean I can’t bring in some of the other places with a Robin Hood tradition… at least I don’t think so.

There may well have been one Robin Hood that triggered off these great tales, but historical records show he was followed by many others. And in a variety of places across the land.

Fountains Abbey (c) John Bainbridge 2016

And the potency of the legend lives on: Even in the 21st century we have the Robin Hood Tax and even, heaven help us, Robin Hood International Airport!!!

The Georgian Gardens (c) John Bainbridge 2016

If you haven’t sought out the first two books in my Chronicles of Robin Hood – Loxley and Wolfshead – please do take a look. They’re out in paperback and on Kindle. Goodreads are offering three signed copies of Loxley until Monday, so do visit their site.

And if you get the chance do visit Fountains Abbey, where you get both a medieval abbey and a Georgian landscape to explore. Well worth the journey..