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back to Book Reviews

Walking the Wainwrights
by Stuart Marshall   
Sigma Leisure Limited – ISBN 1-085058-753-1

Walking The WainwrightsI wish this book had been written ten years ago when I was in the process of looking at which of the 214 fells in AW’s seven guides I had already climbed, and how many summits were still to be reached. It would have been invaluable to me as I planned the remaining routes, and I am sure anyone now contemplating tackling all the Lakeland fells will find it extremely useful in this respect. A revised edition has just been published . In his new introduction, the author highlights the changes made from the original edition, first published in 2000, and there is a new foreword by the late Harry Griffin, written before his death in 2005.

Stuart Marshall has been walking the Lakeland fells for over fifty years and, on his retirement, decided that he would attempt to climb all 214 fells from the Pictorial Guides in a twelve-month period. As a result of his planning for this personal challenge, he decided to pass on the routes he had used – hence the writing and publication of this guide.

The 214 fells are divided into 36 circular routes, varying in distance from 5 to 16 miles and ranging from a route containing just two summits (Low Fell and Fellbarrow) to a maximum of ten summits on three of the routes (the Newlands Watershed, the Kentmere Horseshoe and the Eastern Martindale Fells).

Each of the seven Pictorial Guides is split into between four and seven walks.  There are a number of occasions where a fell or fells from a neighbouring guide are borrowed to make up a walk. For example, Route 5 in the Eastern Fells section (the Kirkstone and Dovedale Circuit) includes Hartsop Dodd and Caudale Moor from the Far Eastern Fells to add to Red Screes, Middle Dodd, Little Hart Crag and High Hartsop Dodd. The Northern Fells is the only area where no other fells are either borrowed or lent.

On some of the longer walks – usually those that are over 10 miles long and have an overall ascent of more than 3,000ft  – Stuart suggests a two-day alternative. The alternatives may also prove useful in the event of bad weather or any other reason that causes a walk to be shortened.

Each route is accompanied by a sketch map, along with a detailed description, but it is important that anyone attempting the walks should be proficient in the use of map and compass. It goes without saying that walkers should also have the relevant Wainwright guide with them – preferably one of Chris Jesty’s revised editions that are either already published or will be over the next few years.

This book, however, is more than just a walking guide as it includes information on navigation, mountain walking, geology and the origins of many Lakeland place names – plus pages for notes and for the walker’s personal record of when a route has been completed. All in all, this is an excellent book, which will prove very useful to walkers planning to attempt the 214 Lakeland summits.

reviewed by John Burland - Member No. 2