Book review: Julia Bradbury’s Wainwright Walks

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‘The fleeting hour of life of those who love the hills is quickly spent, but the hills are eternal,’ said legendary Lakes fell walker Alfred Wainwright.

Twenty-one years after he died, Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides are still recognised as the definitive reference to walking the Lake District fells.

His seven volumes of illustrated guides, first published between 1955 and 1966, have inspired generations of walkers to take to the Lakeland hills and now Julia Bradbury, fresh from her BBC series Wainwright Walks, brings us ten of the great man’s best walks.

Whether you are a first-time fell walker or a Lake District diehard, Bradbury’s beautifully produced and illustrated companion book to the series will have you reaching for your boots and back-pack.

Following in Wainwright’s footsteps, these classic routes take us from Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain and the ultimate Lakes challenge, to some of its most tranquil spots and the top of Haystacks, final resting place of the fell walker extraordinaire.

Also included in these scenic walks is beautiful Blencathra which, at 2,847 feet, is firmly in the big league of English hills and was one of Wainwright’s own best-loved fells. His guide devoted a staggering 36 pages to this fell near Keswick in the north of the Lakes.

Catbells, unforgettably described by Wainwright as ‘bold’ with ‘a come hither look,’ is amongst the ten walks along with the dramatic High Street, which has an old Roman road running across its summit ridge, Castle Crag, one of the most accessible walks, Helvellyn with its famous Striding Edge gap, the long walk over Crinkle Crags and Bowfell, and Pillar, the remote ‘overlord of the western scene.’

The walks are illustrated with Wainwright’s drawings, some breathtaking aerial sequences, dramatic images from the TV series and evocative landscape photographs taken by Derry Brabbs.

There are clear directions and Julia’s commentary on her experience of the walks as well as some very welcome tips on where to head for a well-earned tipple after completing each walk.

(Frances Lincoln, paperback, £14.99)