John Manning: Outdoor Writer

Yorkshire-born freelance journalist John Manning reckons he has the best job in the world: walking, and writing about walking!
He’s enjoyed both since his childhood, when he spent his spare time drawing and writing for home-spun magazines as well as school and church publications, and hiking in the Yorkshire Dales and in the Lake District, both with his family and with a local youth group. In 1986, after journalism training at Darlington College of Technology, he completed his first long distance walk – the Pennine Way – then promptly started his professional journalism career among the South Pennine hills, as a cub reporter with the Todmorden News and the Hebden Bridge Times. Within a couple of years he’d risen to assistant editor and, after a brief spell on the Brighouse Echo, he moved to the Halifax Evening Courier to begin a five-year stint as senior sub-editor.
While there he wrote the paper’s fortnightly outdoor column Best Foot Forward. Based on his love of walking and on his weekend duties as a countryside ranger in west Calderdale and as a warden at the National Trust’s countryside property of Hardcastle Crags, near Hebden Bridge, the column won him the Yorkshire Newspaper Society’s Columnist of the Year award for three successive years.
In 1994 he was appointed deputy editor of TGO (The Great Outdoors) Magazine, the UK’s foremost monthly hill-walking magazine, where he went on to win two more awards, both for technical (outdoor gear) features.
John’s chosen line of work has enabled him to walk and write about places across the globe, from North America – where, in 2004, he thru’ hiked the 2700-mile Pacific Crest Trail – and India, to Nepal, New Zealand, Peru, Finland, Slovenia… you get the picture!
He contributed a chapter about the trek to Everest Base Camp for the book Classic Treks: The 30 Most Spectacular Hikes in the World (edited by Bill Birkett; David & Charles, 2000) and demand for his only guidebook, 25 Walks in the South Pennines, is still high – despite the fact that it’s been out of print for a decade. Keep an eye for a new edition in the coming months.
John recently left TGO to live among the hills and moors of the Yorkshire Dales with his partner Steph, and has embarked on a new career as a freelance outdoor writer. He’ll still be writing for TGO – and taking part in the annual two-week TGO Challenge walk across Scotland – as well as contributing to other publications and focusing on a number of non-print projects.
Of all the many varied and multifarious ventures he has lined up, there’s one constant: the combination of walking and writing will continue for many years to come.