same as with ashton smith i was hoping someone could point me in the right direction of where to start with machen as i don't think ive ever read any of his stuff. is he worth a look?
Yes -- he is worth a look. His Tales of Horror & the Supernatural is a good starting place. It's been through a lot of editions (both paperback and hard covers). If no one else does so, I'll try to dig out a few details. (I currently have the Tartarus Press edition of the book -- quite possibly the most beautiful edition, but certainly not the cheapest.)
here's those three collections -about £7 a piece so i suppose if the stories from all three are in it then £12's better!
I think it says that the twelve quid collection has a hundred and eighty-odd pages -- and, in that case, it will certainly not contain all of the stories from the Chaosium Machen books. I own copies of two of the three Chaosium books, and think that they're really good. The problems (if there are problems) with them are:
(a) Machen's best stories are scattered throughout. So no one of three seems to cover Machen properly.
(b) They contain a lot of stories which, while worth reading sooner or later, are not the place to start reading Machen.
I suppose -- also -- you have to consider whether you want the bulk of Machen's fiction, or just a "best of".