Lake District: Borrowdale & Coniston by Mark Richards. Published by Cicerone. £14.95 per book.

The final two books in this eight part series by Mark Richards are being published in March and feature two of the most popular areas of the Lake District.

The Borrowdale book covers the territory west of Thirlmere and includes the fells surrounding the Borrowdale Valley from the town of Keswick through to the majestic fells of Scafell Pike and Great Gable. Twenty-eight fells are described in the book all of which were included in Wainwright’s Central, North Western, Southern and Western guidebooks with the exception of Bell Crags above Thirlmere located between Armboth Fell and Ullscarf, which he never included in the Central Fells guide. There are some wonderful fells in this book; Scafell Pike, Great End, Glaramara, Green and Great Gable, and three of my personal favourites – High Spy, Maiden Moor and Catbells. Wainwright said of the ridge between Maiden Moor and Catbells, “It must be something like this in Heaven” and who am I to disagree with that statement?

The Coniston book contains descriptions of twenty four fells to the west and north west of Coniston Water. Twelve of these were featured in Wainwright’s Southern Fells guide and of the remaining twelve, ten of these Wainwright included in his Outlying Fells book. Only Buckbarrow and Wallowbarrow Crag are not included in either of these two Wainwright publications. Back in the 1970s I organised and led Scout camps at Coniston and in the Duddon Valley at Dale Head so many of the fells featured in this book are old favourites – Coniston Old Man, Brim Fell, Grey Friar from where can be seen the best view of the Eastern wall of the Scafell range, Swirl How, Harter Fell and Wetherlam. In the book there are also details of the Roman Fort at Hard Knott located between the top of Hardknott Pass and Hard Knott summit. Here you can imagine Roman soldiers accustomed to the balmy temperatures of their native Italy wondering why they had been posted to a fort at 1,000 feet above sea level and subject to the westerly gales blowing in from the Cumberland coast at Ravenglass. Another feature in this area covered by the book is the narrow gauge Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, known as La’al Ratty, which can be used to get from Ravenglass to the starting points for the walks up Muncaster Fell and Harter Fell.

At the beginning of each book there is a list of starting points and which fells can be climbed from each of these. There are 34 different starting points in the Borrowdale book and 49 different starting points in the Coniston book. Also there is an introduction about the area that each of the books cover, details of facilities including accommodation and getting around the area either by public transport, of which Mark is a great advocate, or private cars. There is also a section about “Fix the Fells” who do sterling work in repairing the most seriously damaged fell paths. As well as the fell ascents description each chapter has a full coloured map and ascent diagrams, details of ridge routes to neighbouring fells and in some of the chapters a drawing of the panorama from the summit. For those chapters not having a panorama, there is an on-line facility to download these from Cicerone’s website.

Finally, at the end of the book there is an alphabetical list of all 229 fells that appear in the 8 guides with those on the book being looked at highlighted in bold. This list also contains the height of each fell and in which of the books it can be found. After the descriptions of the fells there are a number of suggested ridge or horseshoe walks, four in each of the books that link a number of fell tops together making for a good day’s expedition.

These two books are the most up to date guides to these two areas of the Lakes so for anyone travelling there, once Covid restrictions are lifted, they are an invaluable asset to have with you on the fells. They are available to purchase from Cicerone’s website at

By John Burland