Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Book Review: Lakeland Fellranger - The Far Eastern Fells

When I was asked by Cicerone to review the eighth and final Lakeland Fellranger guide by Mark Richards, I jumped at the chance. Over the last four years, since I first discovered this series, I have devoured each one with delight and had high hopes (and therefore expectations) of this one.
“Lakeland Fellranger - The Far Eastern Fells” is described as “The complete guide for walkers and explorers of the Lakeland fells”. A bold statement, but is it true?

The Far Eastern Fells
In short, yes. The author seems to have thought of everything anyone could possibly need. This volume covers the area to the east of Ullswater and each fell has a separate chapter (there are 33 fells covered from Angletarn Pikes to Yoke) with a colour Harvey map highlighting a selection of starting points and routes. The routes are depicted in red so are easy to follow on the map. Each starting point and route is then covered in detail in the text. There are line-drawn maps in 3D to give a sense of the elevation, descriptions of the summits, recommended ridge routes and advice on the safest descents.

The author’s energy and passion come through in the text along with his knowledge of the fells and their history, with interesting insights. Perhaps most strikingly however, there are a series of four hand drawn panoramas of the views from the summit of each fell covered in the book, showing the shape and names of all the surrounding fells. This must have been a painstaking task but it adds real value, especially for those less familiar with the fells.

There are colour photos throughout that really capture the beauty of the Lakeland fells in every season (although the author seems to have been fortunate to avoid too much grey cloud!) and at the beginning, a useful list of grid references for each starting point and information on safety on the fells. 

So with all that in mind, I would say that “The Far Eastern Fells” can lay claim to being a “complete guide”. This does of course mean that at over 330 pages, it is quite a weighty volume so is more for planning and reference than adding to your rucksack (although I have also done that with previous volumes). 

With the completion of volume eight of Lakeland Fellranger, Mark Richards has, in my view, provided a comprehensive series of guides to the Lakeland fells not seen since Wainwright. The whole series covers 227 fells (Wainwright covered 214). Mark Richards demotes five Wainwright fells (I will not spoil the books by saying which ones, but for those who feel the same way about Mungrisdale Common as I do, you will enjoy reading them all the more) and added new ones that Wainwright did not cover. 

I am a fan of the Wainwright guides and probably always will be but the time was and is right for another set of guides that are fresher and can appeal to a whole new audience. This Fellranger set, culminating with the Far Eastern Fells, in my view is just that and could easily last us the next fifty years. Will 227 become the new 214? Will we talk in future about climbing the “Richard’s” rather than the “Wainwright’s”? I think the answer to that rests with Cicerone and how they manage to keep them relevant and fresh over the coming years....

“Lakeland Fellranger – The Far Eastern Fells” is published by Cicerone. There is more information on www.markrichards.info including additional photos and the summit panoramas
RRP £14.95

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  1. I think that the Wainwrights will still be the premier Lake District list but there's enough common ground that a lot of baggers will probably do both lists concurrently.

    There's been enough on the web recently to indicate that they're going to be called "the Fellrangers".

    Luckily I've only got 4 left to tick - roll on August !

    1. That's fab news - I hope you get some lovely views for your final 4. I was very lucky with my final 3 - a perfect day.
      I am looking forward to climbing the additional fells in Fellranger although have done a few anyway. :-)

  2. Thanks for this review Tanya. I got an excellent sense of what this book offers.

    I particularly like the sound of the four handdrawn panoramic views of the fells taken from the summits and which name the surrounding fells. That sounds like a labour of love.

    As for the 214 versus 227 issue I don't know enough to comment but a fresh view can a be a good thing.

    1. Thank you :-)
      I do think a fresh set of guides is a good thing - people can pick and choose from old and new then or use one to complement the other.
      Thanks for commenting.