Book review: The North Western Fells: Wainwright’s Walking Guide to the Lake District: Book 6 (Wainwright Walkers Edition). Published by Frances Lincoln

When Alfred Wainwright finished his guidebook to the North Western Fells – Book 6 in the series – he wrote the following comment in this Personal Notes in Conclusion, “When concluding Book Five I expressed the opinion that the North Western Fells were the most delectable of all, and after two years in their charming company, I hold to that view. In other areas I have sometimes tired a little of repeatedly tramping the same tracks but not here”.

The area covered by Book 6 is also one of my own favourite walking areas in the Lakes. Whilst not containing any of the highest peaks in the Lake District such as Scafell Pike, Helvellyn, Skiddaw, Great Gable etc. what it does have, which sets it apart from many of the other areas, is some of the best ridge walking. Getting on the ridges early in the day it is possible to visit half a dozen or more summits throughout the day.

Ten years ago, in 2008, Chris Jesty completed a full revision of Wainwright’s original guide written in 1964, and now Clive Hutchby has produced the latest “Walkers Edition” to meet the ever-changing landscape of the Lake District. It includes extra details about some of the most iconic walks and some new routes altogether. These include new routes on Dale Head, High Spy, Maiden Moor, Knott Rigg, Greystones, Ling Fell, Lords Seat and Whinlatter. Upgraded and improved paths have been included and also extra detail on a number of the most popular ascents including Grasmoor, Hopegill Head, Robinson, Hindscarth and Lords Seat.

Where new stiles, gates, bridges, cairns and paths have appeared over the last decade, all these have been included. Altogether Clive has made hundreds of changes to both Wainwright’s original and Chris Jesty’s first revision books.

The walking in this area is delightful and the fells are easier to climb than their abrupt appearance at first suggests. The route from Maiden Moor to Catbells was described by Wainwright as “It must be something like this in heaven”, and who am I to disagree?

Whilst I will always retain my Wainwright original of the North Western Fells, especially as it has been signed by the author, this new walker’s edition will be the one I will use on the fells over the next few years as it provides the most comprehensive and up to date details of each of the 29 fells in the book. That is why I would also recommend other walkers to purchase it so that they are always using the most up to date information for these, the grandest of all the fells in the Lake District.

John Burland