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back to Book Reviews

The Best of Wainwright Second Edition
ISBN: 9780711231108

Wainwright’s TV Walks Second Edition
ISBN: 9780711231214

Both of these books have been previously reviewed by me in Footsteps (January 2005 and September 2007) and a comment I made at the end of the Wainwright’s TV Walks review was ‘One disappointment I have, however, is that the book uses the routes from AW’s original editions whereas I feel it would have been better to have used the Chris Jesty updated versions of those books so far published.’

Now that all the Pictorial Guides have all been revised by Chris Jesty, Frances Lincoln has decided to republish these two books using the revised pages. The one revised chapter in The Best of Wainwright that has not yet been published is the ascent of Orrest Head but as Chris Jesty has already revised this ascent of ‘Where we came in …’ as part of his preparation for the revision of The Outlying Fells of Lakeland (due to be published in 2011), the revised chapter is being given a preview in this book.

In both books, there are a total 35 fells covered (18 & 17 respectively) although some of these are duplicated. In The Best of Wainwright, Hunter Davies’ selection gives anyone new to the Lake District and to fellwalking the opportunity to experience ‘the best’ from each of the seven guidebooks, plus Orrest Head. Not everyone will necessarily agree with his choice and, in fact, he did promise me that if ever the book were revised he would change one of the chapters taken from Book Two from Hallin Fell to Place Fell in view of AW’s comments about the walk back from Sandwick to Patterdale being ‘the most beautiful and rewarding walk in Lakeland’. Obviously he must have forgotten to tell John Nicol about this promise from five years ago!

Everyone has their own preferences and it would be a sad world if we all agreed on everything. But Hunter does include all of the six fells that AW classed as his favourites at the end of Book 7 – Scafell Pike, Bowfell, Pillar, Blencathra, Great Gable and Crinkle Crags. Before each of the 18 chapters – which contains the whole of each fell taken from the respective Pictorial Guide – Hunter includes a 2- or 3-page introduction, not just about the fell itself, but also including details of AW’s life, a fascinating insight into the layout of the books, and AW’s meticulous attention to detail.

In Wainwright’s TV Walks, the book has been put together by Society Chairman Eric Robson who sets the scene for each walk with stories from the days he spent filming with the great fellwalker, adding his own personal impressions of the fell and the chosen ascent. Most members will have already purchased the revised Pictorial Guides over the last five years but, if not, this is an opportunity to have the most up-to-date information for these classic fells throughout the Lake District.

reviewed by John Burland