AN author from South Tawton who triumphed over open-heart and cancer surgery has produced a definitive walking guide to mid-Devon.

Peter Craske, 71, had open-heart surgery in 2011 and cancer surgery in 2012. Having bounced back from his operations, Mr Craske is publishing Tarka Line Walks to promote fitness and enjoyment of the picturesque countryside of mid Devon.

Having known the area since the 1940s, his knowledge offers expert insight into the villages, local lore and transportation changes that have taken place over the last two centuries.

He researched the book over several years, going over every inch of the walks with Scrumpy, his 12-year-old rescued labrador.

The walks each start from a railway station between Exeter and Barnstaple, and vary in length from two miles to eight and a half miles. Finding the routes is made easier with each route having its own Ordnance Survey map.

The 60 walks in the book are all designed to be 'low carbon', with walkers able to get the train to and from each rather than travelling by car.

Mr Craske said: 'You've no idea just what's out there until you head away from the track. The book has just about everything from picturesque villages to ancient watermills, from a highway lined with gallows to a rector tried for murder.

'In these days of dire predictions about rising obesity rates and associated health problems, walking can do wonders for middle age spread, and doubtless other spreads.

'Taking the train, instead of the car, is gentle on the environment. This way you'll barely leave a carbon footprint.'

Julian Crow, First Great Western regional manager for the West of England said: 'The line passes through some of the finest scenery in southern England. With this book we hope to introduce both locals and visitors to the countryside made famous in Henry Williamson's Tarka the Otter, and with the hourly timetable that's now operating on weekdays —the best service the line has ever had — planning of walks has never been easier.'

Tarka Line Walks is produced by the Tarka Rail Association in partnership with First Great Western, and is published by the UK's leading publisher of walking guides, Crimson Publishing, well-known for their popular Pathfinder Guide series.

The book is available from April 1 in bookshops, the Stationmaster's café at Barnstaple Platform 1, and online retailers Amazon and the Guardian Bookshop.