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back to Book Reviews

A. Wainwright's Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells: Book 6 - The North Western Fells Revised by Chris Jesty
ISBN: 978 0 7112 2712 5  Published by Frances Lincoln

North Western FellsThis area of the Lake District is one of my favourites and I was therefore eagerly waiting to see the revised version of Book 6 when it was published in October in order to ascertain what changes there have been from AW’s original 1964 publication. And changes there are a-plenty.

On comparing the two editions, I thought there seemed to be slightly fewer amendments than there were in Book 5. There are, of course, changes to all the chapters, including changes to the ridge routes in all but three of them. In the original publication, AW asked readers to let him know if the young rowan tree that had taken root on the crags on the ascent of Robinson from Hassness was still there. Chris Jesty in this latest edition confirms it is still thriving forty-four years later! Another nice touch is in the Rannerdale Knotts chapter where Chris makes mention of the plaque dedicated to AW in Buttermere Church.

However, not all is rosy in this new edition as once again there are a number of howlers as far as the publishers and their editing/proof-reading team are concerned. First, in the Lord’s Seat chapter on page 3, ‘Visitor Centre’ has been spelled ‘Vistor Centre’. Secondly, in the ridge route from Wandope to Grasmoor on page 10 of the Wandope chapter, the reader is advised to go ‘left onto the path linking Eel Crag with Grasmere’. For heaven’s sake! Grasmere is over 9 miles away. It should of course be Grasmoor! Is that a cloud of smoke I can see from AW’s pipe on Haystacks, or steam emitting from his ears and nostrils?

When comparing the two editions, I also noticed in Barrow 6, on line 1 of the final paragraph, there is a missing apostrophe after ‘walkers’. I feel sure AW wouldn’t be at all happy with these errors. I would also query the 2008 addition in Grisedale Pike 6 about the road being obstructed by fallen trees. Obviously this is useful if the fallen trees remain in situ, but useless if they are cleared by the Forestry Commission at a future date. AW said in Fellwanderer on page 47: ‘In the matter of fell paths, an error of commission is worse than one of omission’. Likewise, here:I think it would have been better to have omitted this note.

As I said above, the North Western Fells is one of my favourite areas and on my study wall hang two pictures – AW’s black and white drawing of The North Western Fells from Keswick which appeared in A Lakeland Sketchbook (drawing number 39), and also Andy Beck’s beautiful colour painting of the same area which he produced earlier this year when we were raising funds for the Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team.

The North Western Fells are bounded by the River Derwent and the River Cocker – an area lauded by AW as first-class fell-walking territory. As I know from personal experience, the ridge walking here is some of the finest in the Lake District, offering views of unsurpassed beauty. AW describes the ridge route from Maiden Moor to Catbells with the words: ‘It must be something like this in Heaven.’ Within the North Western Fells there is something for all walkers: steep, high mountains such as Grasmoor; rugged individualists such as Castle Crag, and destinations such as Catbells, which Wainwright calls ‘a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together, a place beloved’.

Chris Jesty has once again brilliantly revised The North Western Fells. All footpaths have been re-walked, all AW’s routes checked, all maps and text updated. Paths and routes have been picked out in russet red to make them easier to follow, and parking information has been added.

Whilst maintaining the beauty of AW’s original, this new version brings the routes up to date for the twenty-first century walker and, despite the errors mentioned above, I would still recommend it to you to add to your collection of guidebooks to the Lake District.

reviewed by John Burland - Member No. 2