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back to Book Reviews

Lake District Mountain Landscape
by Alastair Lee
ISBN: 9780711230873.
Published by Frances Lincoln

Lake District Mountain LandscapeAlastair Lee, now aged thirty-seven, started climbing when he was nineteen, at which point he developed a passion for mountaineering, and this has taken him to most parts of the world in the last decade. He has combined this with a love of photography and his mountain and climbing pictures have been widely acclaimed.

Alastair tends to start his climbs in the early hours of the morning since this enables him to capture the special beauty of mountains when photographed in early light. The results contained in this book are remarkable images of some familiar fells.

He photographs the scenes in all weathers and at all times of day and night and his photographs show that his determination is rewarded. He writes: ‘Once you have reached a certain height, taking good photographs is, in many ways, easy. But things happen up there that you’d never experience or even know about down in the valley. Light behaves differently up high; everything seems sharper, although this effect can be reversed if the cloud base is low. I love the ethereal quality of light immediately pre- and postsunrise in uplands, where it remains much brighter than in the valleys.’

One chapter, entitled ‘Hidden Landscape’ and featuring ‘Scars, mines and mysteries’, explores the history and formation of the fells and is illustrated with photographs taken in places ranging from Cathedral Quarry in Little Langdale to the head of Buttermere.

In the next chapter, Alastair writes about ‘Mountain Craft’ and climbing in the Lake District. He joins Dave Birkett, one of the most accomplished rock climbers in the world, on some of his climbs, including Scafell and its East Buttress, described by Dave Birkett’s grandfather, Jim, a phenomenal climber in the 1930s and 1940s, as ‘the most fearsome crag in Britain’.

The chapter ‘Alpine Window’ includes photographs of the Lake District taken in winter conditions, showing how harsh yet beautiful the mountains can be at such times. In the chapter entitled ‘Photographic Notes’ Alastair describes in some detail his photographic techniques.

I said in my conclusion to Pendle that Alastair let the pictures do the talking and the high-quality photography in Lake District Mountain Landscape make this equally true of his latest book.

John Burland - Member No. 2