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back to Book Reviews

Wainwright Family Walks - Volume One: The Southern Fells
edited by Tom Holman

Published by Frances Lincoln
ISBN 978-0-7112-3362-1

Tom Holman has chosen twenty Wainwright walks that he considers suitable for families or for newcomers to walking in Lakeland. The distances of the walks included range from 1 to 7½ miles.

Whilst the title of the book suggests the walks have all been taken from Wainwright’s Book 4, The Southern Fells, this is not the case. Twelve of the walks are, in fact, taken from Outlying Fells, the rest coming from the Pictorial Guides for the Far Eastern Fells (1), Eastern Fells (1) Central Fells (3) and Southern Fells (3). To sub-title the book ‘The Southern Fells’, a term relating exclusively to Book 4 of the Pictorial Guides, is confusing and inappropriate. Something on the lines of Walks for the Family in southern Lakeland: from Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides would have been far more accurate. Perhaps the author will consider this when he presumably comes to write a second complementary book covering walks in the northern half of the Lake District.

Anyone who has ventured onto the Lakeland fells with children will be well aware of the planning necessary for a successful ‘expedition’ and the book assists greatly in this. The layout follows much the same format as The Best of Wainwright (a spin-off published in 2003) in which each of the twenty fells is reproduced in full from the relevant Pictorial Guide, preceded by a typeset introduction written by the author.

The most valuable aspect of this is the section headed Directions which gives clear information of AW’s suggested route of ascent. Whilst it often duplicates AW’s hand-written copy that comes next, it is probably easier to follow. Detailed advice covering public transport options – including bus numbers, train and ferry details – is provided alongside the helpful ‘facilities, food and drink’ section. Within this is given the location of toilet facilities, picnic areas, familyfriendly pubs, shops and cafés, providing telephone numbers and website addresses where applicable. Additionally, points and places of interest both en route and in the surrounding area are included, which could be useful to keep children interested either during or after the walk.

The reproduction of AW’s copy is taken from Chris Jesty’s revised editions of the Pictorial Guides, and the clear red-pecked footpaths will be especially useful for young and old alike as well as giving helpful alternatives should the family wish to cut short or extend a walk.

These walks are well suited for testing out children’s interest, ability and desire to walk over gradually increasing distances and variation of terrain without scaring them off, while the final route onto Harter Fell takes them over that magical 2000ft mark.

I would certainly recommend this book (in paperback, making it easy to take on the walks) which makes the fells more accessible to families and unsuspecting ‘off-comers’ who may be unaware of the delights that lie ahead of them – just as Wainwright himself once was.

reviewed by Wendi Armstrong – Membership No 1825