PASSIONATE long-distance walker Sheila Gordon is celebrating the culmination of an ambition which has driven her for more than 20 years.

It is the publication of the waymarked edition of Lady Anne's Way, 100 miles from Skipton to Penrith.

Anne Clifford spent more than half a life-time hanging on to her heritage despite pressure to let go from some of the highest folk in Jacobian England, including King James 1.

So when she eventually was granted legal possession of her lands in Craven and Westmorland she was determined never to let go. Hence, she regularly traipsed up-and-down her north country, mostly carried in a horse-litter, and aged in her 50s, keeping a beady eye on her hard won territory.

Jessica Malay's just published book "Anne Clifford's Autobiographical Writing" helps illustrate how well researched is Sheila's book.

Anne kept a "diary" for much of her life and she records on January 10 1667 how she and her cohort shifted from Skipton castle through Haw Park, near Embsay, passing Halton and on to Barden Tower, one of her favourite retreats. Some time later she sets out again, bound for Pendragon castle, stopping off on the way at her friend John Symondson's house in Starbotton.

To quote Anne from her writings: "And from thence the next day I went up Buckden Raikes and over the Stake and so out of Craven and over into Mr John Coleby's House in Wensleydale where I lay that one night."

Essentially Sheila has followed in the spirit of Anne's journey, "striking a balance between sticking religiously to the routes while gaining a true flavour of the surrounding landscape."

What she has produced, with help from umpteen other sources, is an impressive colour illustrated book which will fascinate both walkers and people just interested in Anne Clifford who was born in Skipton castle in 1590 and died in Brougham Castle near Appleby in 1676. It is packed within formation about how to tackle the routes, there are strip maps, information about the various communities and a biography of the resolute Anne to keep walkers motivated on the way.

Sheila tells us how the waymarked route came about:

"In 1993 I’d attended a lecture about the River Ure and its source and heard mention of the Lady Anne and of her vast estates in both Yorkshire and Westmorland and how she travelled extensively throughout the north of England, supervising the restoration of her ruined castles in the mid 17th century.

"It seemed a natural progression to link all these castles together to form the backbone of a long distance route which would be full of historical interest as well as passing through some stunning scenery.

"The first edition of Lady Anne’s Way came out in 1995 - Hillside Publications - with a revised edition in 2003. A new edition was published by Skyware in 2013 in full colour and with strip maps.

"As the route became more popular it was decided to apply for the route to be waymarked and a development plan was submitted to the relevant authorities in 2015.

"This was eventually agreed and a group called ‘The Friends of Lady Anne’s Way’ was set up to help facilitate the project and to raise funding.

"A total in excess of £1,500 was eventually raised, the main sponsors being Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust, the Long Distance Walkers Association and a grant from Cumbria County Council community grant scheme. "Without these initial donations we wouldn’t have been able to proceed.

"Following on from this, funding was received from Grassington and Kirkby Stephen town councils, Mickledore Walking Holidays, based in Keswick, Craven U3A walking group and two private individuals."

Sheila and friends, supporters and sponsors of the project recently launched the book beneath the drum towers of Skipton castle followed by a five mile walk along part of the route - complete with new waymarks - before looping back to Skipton via the Leeds/Liverpool canal.

"What better way to celebrate the completion of the project and also to remind us of the amazing achievements of such in incredible woman, who fought against all odds to reclaim her natural inheritance.

"As a tribute to her a lifesize bronze "In the Spirit of Lady Anne" is being created by renown sculptor Diane Lawrenson.

"This will be erected in the centre of Kirkby Stephen and will form not only a permanent monument

to Lady Anne but also be an incentive and inspiration to all those who follow in her footsteps," Sheila added.

Joining the walkers was Joe Colls, a volunteer for the Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust, which helped with funding.

He said: "Sheila has worked for over 20 years to establish Lady Anne’s Way as a recognised walking route. She applied to RHCT for a small grant and we were able to help her achieve the waymarking that is necessary to make such a route user-friendly."

The organisation's remit was to improve access to, and the condition of, the British countryside and footpath network by awarding grants. Lady Anne’s Way was a good example of the benefit that a small RHCT grant could make to a larger project.

"We in fact find it hard to persuade enough walking groups to apply to us for small grants. Please, any walking group that believes it could benefit from RHCT funding should go to”

Lady Anne's Way is for sale at £9.99 (P&P free) and details are on the Lady Anne's Way website. Copies are also available from the publisher, Skyware, and from Skipton Castle and other outlets.