Review: Wainwright’s Walking Guide to the Lake District Fells – The Western Fells – Walker’s Edition revised by Clive Hutchby. Published by Frances Lincoln. £13.99

WELL, we have reached the end of an era! Forty-five years after Alfred Wainwright completed his series of guides to the Lake District and 11 years after the Second Revision by Chris Jesty the final book in the Walker’s Editions has been completed by Clive Hutchby and is published on June 23.

For the last five years Clive has meticulously worked on updating the seven guides in the series which has involved hundreds if not thousands of hours of work both on the fells themselves and in front of the computer updating the previous editions with new and realigned paths, stiles being replaced by gates, new footbridges and parking places which never appeared in the original guides as Wainwright always travelled everywhere by buses and did not own a car. Clive has kindly acknowledged the help he received on both this book, and several of the earlier guides in the series, from Maggie Allen whose Lake District fellwalking knowledge is second to none and who regularly posts some of her magnificent photographs on Facebook.

In the Chris Jesty revision of Book 7 some ascents of fells that were in the original Wainwright Guide were dropped due to access issues raised by landowners. However, in this new edition these have been reintroduced in the chapters for Burnbank Fell, Fellbarrow, Great Bourne, Low Fell and Starling Dodd. All Wainwright’s illustrations and diagrams omitted in second edition because route pages were dropped for that edition have now been reintroduced in the Walkers Edition.

Speaking to Clive, he tells me that 12 new paths have been included in various chapters, there are 12 completely new ascents and 22 other changes to routes, summit diagrams or additional map sections inserted.

Book 7 is the area furthest west in the Lake District as the title implies. It includes magnificent fells such as Great Gable, Pillar, the High Stile range, Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks where Wainwright’s ashes were scattered in 1991.

Whilst I will always retain my Wainwright original of the 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 33 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, some of the grandest of all the fells in the Lake District.

Finally, I cannot close without quoting from Wainwright’s Personal Notes in Conclusion at the end of the book which I think also sums up the series as a whole.

The fleeting hour of life of those who love the hills is quickly spent but the hills are eternal. Always there will be the lonely ridge, the dancing beck, the silent forest; always there will be the exhilaration of the summits. These are for the seeking, and those who seek and find while there is yet time will be blessed both in mind and body.

I wish you all many happy days on the fells in the year ahead. There will be fair winds and foul, days of sun and days of rain. But enjoy them all. Good walking! And don’t forget – watch where you are putting your feet.

John Burland