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back to Book Reviews

by Alistair Lee
Published by Frances Lincoln
ISBN 978-0-7112-2975-4

Pendle, known locally as ‘the hill of the witches’, is one of Lancashire’s most distinctive hills. Although not the highest in the county, the hill is instantly recognisable because of its most impressive vertical scale on all sides. From Middop, it looks almost symmetrical and takes on a profile similar to Ayres Rock in Australia; from Colne, its sides look like vertical walls, and when its top is capped with snow it looks twice as high as its 1,831 feet.

Alistair Lee lives at the base of the hill, and his book captures Pendle in all seasons and weathers and builds an intimate and atmospheric portrait. There are some stunning photographs in the book, as befits a filmmaker with some twenty-three international awards, including the prestigious Grand Prize at the Kendal Mountain Festival. The moorland covered in frost on pages 22 and 23 particularly impressed me, and also the brilliant sunset on pages 104 and 105. The book is landscape in format, measuring 12 inches by 8 inches, so these really stand out.

There is very little text in the book – a brief two-page introduction for each of the four chapters: there is an especially fascinating introduction to chapter two, ‘Witches, Murder and Malice’. There is also a page of photographic notes at the end, useful for both amateur and professional photographers, but throughout the book Alistair lets the pictures do the talking and they do this superbly.

reviewed by John Burland - Member No. 2