Newly published by Cicerone, this book of fell walks is by Vivienne Crow. She's a Londoner by birth, but Cumbrian by choice. Based near the Lake District, she has written more than a dozen guides to the national park and writes popular walking columns that appear in several north Cumbrian newspapers.
Lake District High Level and Fell Walks is an A5 format paperback with stiffened front and back covers. Glossy paper inside helps the expected full colour photos to shine. On the inside front cover is an overview map showing where each walk is in relation to well known towns and of course each other, this makes it very easy to pick out walks that might be of interest. Just a couple of pages in is the index with walks handily grouped by area, and then a table showing more detailed statistics. So it's easy to find walks by distance, or grade for instance.
There follows the introduction, which makes no hesitation in setting the Lakeland scene. There is some geology for the geo-curious, as well as wildlife, and the varied history of this region. There is some advice on the weather, where to stay, transport, as well as what to take with you and safety aspects to consider. In all not too prescriptive, just sensible advice.
Maps are Ordnance Survey 50K so will be familiar to almost everyone. The route is clearly picked out in orange with optional detours or escape routes in blue. Amongst the walk instructions there are little snippets of things to see, or historical significance, with an occasional folk tale as well. These are picked out in another colour from the main text so it's easy to spot what is going on.
There is a good mix of walks not all are circular, or involve retracing your steps. The first walk is from Keswick and starts off by taking a bus out to the start point at the Ravenstone Manor hotel. It then climbs steeply to the Longside Edge ridge line and onto Skiddaw for what the author describes as "The best Skiddaw walk... ever". I can't disagree with that! Walking over the fells particularly Skiddaw back to Keswick is a fantastic way to see the views over the vale to the central fells and Derwent Water.
In amongst the classic Lakeland walks like the Coledale Horseshoe or Haystacks, is another interesting walk along the length of the Helvellyn range. Again a bus is recommended to the start point and walk back over Clough Head, all the Dodds and Helvellyn itself.
Each walk is well laid out, with a summary, distance, ascent, how long it will take, terrain, what maps you will need, parking, and how to get to the start with public transport. A map of the walk shows the general route and direction of travel.
If I have one criticism it is with the maps. Sometimes due to the nature of the overall shape of the route a portion of the map is lost in the fold of the spine. However this is really only a minor niggle.
I really liked this book, I found myself just diving into a walk to read as a story, to take myself into the fells I know so well. It never disappointed me.
This is the standard all guide book authors should aspire to.
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