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Long Distance footpaths (LDFP)


THE ENGLISH LAKE DISTRICT and Wainwright's Guides




In my opinion it's not possible to get the most out of the mountains without a knowledge of  the flora and fauna to be found there

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Many walking books are published every year, but only a few become long term classics, so
which walking books should every keen hillwalker own?
Any list is bound to be subjective but a grounding in the skills must be essential for safe enjoyment of the hills, Mountaincraft and Leadership fits that bill. Once skills are addressed regional guides are next on the list. For those focused on the 3000' contour Butterfield must be the strongest contender.
If completing the Scottish Munros is the target then the choice falls between the "official" SMC guide and Cameron McNeish's offering. Further south to the English Lake District and for me there is no contest, Wainwrightwins hands down, even if valley detail may now be a little out of date. For Snowdonia I favour The Ridges of Snowdonia. Much has been written and many maps pored over to establish which particular sets of contours comprise our definitive hills. If 2000' and a uniform definition suit you then The Nuttalls may be for you.(More information on hill classification).

Once the basic information is covered, what else is there? In my opinion any day out walking is enhanced by an understanding of the wildlife around us and field guides can help us along the way to that. That just leaves those inevitable really wet days (weather!) when we need a good read or maybe just a bit of inspriation from deeds in the greater ranges.

Titles markedare in my opinion amoung the best I have so far found on the topic.Some are out of print and can only be found in libraries or secondhand, but many can be ordered here at competitive prices in association with Amazon.co.uk.
Note that a greyed-out button indicates book currently unavailable from Amazon (but it can be worth checking for new stocks)


By Author Ashton Bartlett Birkett Boardman Butterfield(h.m.) Butterfield(magic)
Dickinson Diemburger Dubin Gray Greig
Hemmlet Hillary Krakauer Langmuir Moran(i) Moran(ii) McNeish Muir
Nuttall Parker Patterson Pegley Poucher Reynolds
Simpson SMT SMC Storer St.Exupery Thesiger Uney Waite Wainwright 
Philosophy of climbing
The Undiscovered Country Bartlett 183p.17x24cm bw
An unusual book that tries to answer that old question "why do we climb mountains?".Draws on historical information and his own experiences.
From chapter 3 on the exhilaration of mountaineering
......"mountaineering is a serious pastime, not because it is physically dangerous but because there are profound insights to be gained from it. It is serious because the appetite for those insights, or for the sheer exhileration that goes with them, can become overwhelming. Moments of intensity are addictive. Climbing can become a drug." 

Mountains of the Mind MacFarlane
 “Mountains of the mind” is a history of our attitudes to mountains, glaciers and wilderness, from times when most westerners only perceived beauty in tamed, fecund agricultural landscapes and mountains were regarded at best as useless, forward to our current view of them as having a terrible but sublime beauty and the attaining of their summits a value worth risking life for.
The author notes the forth dimension, time, brought to the mountains by the evolution of geology, which (unlike one hundred million modern Americans), knows that the world wasn’t created, fully formed, in a week. Rather, that the long history of the planet is written in the folds and faults of our hills, “the great stone book”.
Calling on the authors personal experiences in the mountains and those of the early Everest expeditions, as well as many historical literary figures such as Coleridge, the prototypical eccentric Lake District scrambler, to explore why it is that millions of people are now driven to climb in the mountains, even though (or partly because?), the price for some will be their lives. Risk is central to this analysis of why we climb, along with the aesthetic factors, the solitude and the sense of exploration, however artificial. One area where I would have liked more is simple male sex driven competitiveness, which although it can be overstated, as when mountains are compared to phalli, is a factor. However, an excellent read.
Winner, Guardian first book award. 

safety etc.

Mountaincraft and Leadership E.Langmuir Cordee 362p 15x21cm bw
Definitive guide for all hillgoers. Navigation, hillwalking, camping, conservation, security, river crossing, weather, exposure, rescue, leadership (yes, that includes everyone who walks in a group, however informal), snow and ice, avalanches, snow holes etc. All described with the help of clear line drawings.

see also a potential newer replacement:-

Hillwalking, the official handbook of the mountain leader and walking group scheme - Long
Scotlands Winter Mountains M.Moran David & Charles 310p 19x26cm colour
"How to" volume from the author of "The Munros in Winter". Weather and snow conditions, navigation, winter skills, clothing, gully and ice climbing, the use of skis etc. All related to and explained in the context of specific Scottish examples.

A chance in a million? Barton & Wright SMT  122p 21x15cm bw
Scottish Avalanches, a history and accounts of some recent occurences with a detailed analysis of their anatomy and how to decrease the risk of being caught.

Mountain Weather Pedgley 112p 12x18cm bw
Everything you need to know about British mountain weather in one handy pocket sized book
Weather for Hillwalkers and Climbers Thomas, Banks.

The High Mountains of Britain and Ireland Butterfield Diadem Vol 1 21x25cm 320p colour
The 3000ft. mountains (including tops) of British Isles. Also available in pocket size version.The 3000ft. limit obviously excludes most of the English Lake District but Ireland is a bonus. Usefully describes the general characteristics of each area at beginning of each chapter. Often gives more than one route to the hills. Access information and many good photographs. If your only interest is the Munros, tops and 'furths' this could be your sole guide book.The "volume 1" in the title of recent copies relates to an abandoned plan to cover the lower hills in a second volume. See also The magic of the Munros

Great British Ridge Walks Bill Birkett 192p 26.5x23.5cm colour
This attractively presented volume covers 50 ridge walks - 10 in Wales, 14 in the Lake District and 26 in Scotland. Each route is introduced by about half a page of the usual factual information, in this case extending to geology, flora and fauna and an assesment of both summer and winter difficulties, (scrambles are graded down to 0.25). An attractive line drawing of the ridge in question is then followed by a narrative and photos which often focus on the immediate underfoot quality of ground rather than distant views. These give a good feel for the qualities of the walk. Being most familiar with the ELD I went to this section first and could find little to argue with except the listing of the departed bunkhouse at Wasdale Head and the inclusion of the Langdales which to me do not make a ridge. There are some unusual ideas such as the Scafells from Eskdale via Pen and Cam Spout Crag, possibly the hardest way to tackle these two hills. I have in fact enjoyed this book as much as a reminder of past walks as for an inspiration for future ones which for me will include two out of his five Skye walks, Trotternish and the Red Cuillin. With one Cairngorm exception the rest of the Scottish walks run down the west coast from Foinaven to Arran.The Welsh section is firmly in Snowdonia with Cadair Idris the most southern outpost. Looking at the Carneddau route - Pen Yr Ole Wen to Pen Yr Helgi Du - I could immediatly visualise the route from the ridge drawing and the three photos gave a good impression of the route in summer. The Bwlch Eryl Farchog scramble is graded 0.25 but the similar one ascending Pen Yr Ole Wen is not mentioned. As the book usually gives winter grades I was surprised that no mention was made of the exhausting nature of this route under snow.Overall a very enjoyable and inspirational book to browse in, if not on the essential reading list.
The Scottish Highlands




The Munros (3000ft)and the Corbetts (2000ft)
Scottish Mountaineering Club. av 200p 15x24cm colour
Authoritative guide books covering Scottish Highlands. Photo and description of each hill with discussion of routes. Sketch maps show ridges but not routes. 
Munro's Tables
Munros, Corbetts, Donalds and Grahams listed by Height, area and name.With sketch maps and illustrations.

Related pages:- 
Classification of hills

SMC Regional Guides
Access, public transport, accomodation, geology, the hills with sketch maps, walks, climbing:-
The Southern Highlands
South of Loch Rannoch to Glasgow 
The Central Highlands
South of the Great Glen to Loch Rannoch and Dalmally
The Northwest Highlands
North of the Great Glen
The Cairngorms
The Southern Uplands
The Munroist's Companion
From 100 years of the SMC journal
The Munros Cameron McNeish Lomond 228p 20x27cm colour
Alternative guide to the Munros. Has the advantage that routes are shown on the sketch maps for ease of comprehension.Attractive sketch maps and photographs.

100 Best Routes On Scottish Mountains Storer 224p 13x20cm bw
Each route is graded 1-5 for technical difficulty, terrain, navigation and seriousness.
Heading for the Scottish hills SMT 176p.15x21cm bw
Essential factual infomation (estate telephone numbers etc.) on 
access during shooting seasons for highland hillgoers.

Related pages:-
Scottish highlands photos.
Aonach Eagach the easy way

Islands of Scotland SMC

Scottish Islands

(my photo, not in these books)
The Scottish Islands


The Islands of Scotland including Skye - SMC illustrated b&w and colour
Each island or group is described with principal hills listed. Access, transport and accommodation are followed by a general description. Major hills are then described in detail (with sketch maps of the major groups) followed by walks and rock climbing possibilities. A very good starting point for exploring the island hills.

copyright third party - review purposes onlyThe Scottish Islands - Hamish Haswell-Smith 
A comprehensive guide to every Scottish island of 100 acres or more.
Size, height, ownership, population, geology, history, wildlife, access, points of interest, sketch maps (with wrecks, shallows and anchorages) and watercolour illustrations. 

"why do we experience such a thrill at being surrounded by water, cut off from the rest of mankind. Imprisoned in a miniature world? Is it because an island is of human scale, easy to comprehend, safe and defensible when the world beyond is big and terrifying? Who hasn't dreamed of being marooned on the proverbial desert island? For
generations islands has been the theme of literature and poetry and more recently of radio and film. Utopia, Atlantis, Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, Desert Island Discs......." HHS

"the acknowledged rosetta stone of island hopping" Sunday Times.

Western Isles

Isle of Skye - A Walker’s guide – Terry Marsh - Cicerone
Skye is rightly famed for the Black Cuillin, the UK’s most difficult
mountain range, much of  which is out of the reach of those without good scrambling skills.
However, there is more to Skye than the Black Cuillin and this guide gives a good selection of walks all across the island including the long Trotternish ridge with its weird rock formations. Helpful indications are given of where the non scrambler can venture and not venture. Routes in the Cuillin are included where they can be completed (or partly completed) without the use of hands for more than steadying the feet.

Walking in the Hebrides - Roger Redfern - Cicerone
This book covers the Hebridean Islands from Arran in the south through 20 of the islands to Lewis in the north. Naturally Skye and the Cuillin cannot be given comprehensive coverage but are included.
Arran, Islay, Jura, Colonsay, Oronsay,Mull, Coll, Tiree, Muck, Eigg, Rhum, Canna, Skye, Soay, Barra, Benbecula, the Uists, Harris and St.Kilda
Skye 360 Walking the Coastline - Dempster
The coast of Skye as a long walk or broken down into sections
Northern Isles - Orkney - Shetland

The Orkney Guide book – Tait 
Not specifically a walking guide, this well illustrated book (the author is a local photographer) mentions walks in the general (comprehensive) text and provides a list of suggested walks.
Includes: Natural environment – history – activities – flora and fauna including  cetaceans and birds – gazetteer for Orkney Mainland and seventeen islands and groups of islands – reference section including walks and where to watch birds. Accomodation and restaurant guides.

The northern Isles are rich in wildlife and a good field guide is a must. Those willing to invest in a specific volume should consider A naturalist’s Shetland (fairly expensive)  Was it a whale? (inexpensive) will also be useful on ferry crossings.

see also:-
Orkney and Shetland - Penrith
Good general (non walking) overview of the two island groups with lots of useful addresses.

Orkney on foot – Barratt
A selection of walks for the serious rambler

Shetland – Blackadder/Baxter
A general guide book to the group, very well produced with good photo's by Colin Baxter, attractive maps and drawings. The appendices alone are invaluable, especially the landscape guide, rating beaches for accessibility, beauty and importantly, available wind shelter for each wind direction, 
See also:-
The Shetland Guide book – Tait
Another general guide
Walks on Orkney – Welsh
Walks on Shetland – Welsh
Walking the coastline of Shetland  - Guy

South Mainland
Series of guides, each of about 20 walks, both point to point and circular. Illustrated with colour and b&w photos, diagrams and sketch maps. 
Related pages:-
Shetland photos, natural history books, walks and places to visit
Scottish Islands photos


Eastern (second edition)
Eastern (first edition, SH)
Far Eastern(second edition)
Far Eastern(first edition, SH)
Central (second edition)
Central (first edition)
Southern (second edition)
Southern (first edition)

first edition refers to "non Justy" not actual first editions

English Lake District
Wainwright's guides. first published Westmoreland Gazette. 12x16cm bw
Famous hand drawn and written exhaustive guide to the Lake District in seven volumes plus an additional volume for minor fells (hardback, pocket size).
The Eastern Fells is now available as a revised "second edition" updated without losing the essential character of the books. Chris Jesty has updated information such as car parks and paths actually in use on the ground are shown in red, text changes are achieved by use of a "Wainwright" font.
Areas covered by guides:-
FE High Street,E Helvellyn, C north from Langdales, S south of Wasdale inc. Scafell Pike and Coniston fells, NW Grasmore, W north of Wasdale, inc Pillar.N Skiddaw, Blencathra and "back o' Skiddaw"
(Image is a photo of part of the 30th page of the Scafell Pike section)

Gillard-Reid book (c) third party page fragment Scafell Pike 30

Special edition presentation set
of all seven Wainwright guides


While I love the Wainwright guides those looking for something new that accomodates GPS waypoints might like to look at the Discovery Walking Guides UK series Walk! the Lake District

Related pages:-
The Lake district in photos


The Mountains of England Nuttall Cicerone av 300p 12x17cm bw showerproof cover
The 2000 ft. mountains ("Nuttalls") of England and Wales in two (pocket sized) volumes. Reminiscent of the Wainwright guides in format and illustration. The Nuttalls have spend much time and energy in surveying the hills to establish the "Nuttall" list. 

Related pages:- 
Classification of hills

Long Distance paths handbook

The RidgewayLong distance paths
The LDFP network offers both a series of challenges for the ambitious walker or a resource of well marked day or weekend walks, depending on how you approach them.

National Trail Guides
Excellent guides with OS map extracts of the entire routes.
Hadrian's Wall 81 miles
The Pennine Way 256 miles
The first long distance footpath, opened in 1965. A wild, tough walk along the backbone of England.Highest point Cross Fell 893m (2947ft).
Pennine Way - South
Pennine Way - North
Cleveland Way 110 miles
Yorkshire Wolds Way 79 miles
Peddar's Way/Norfolk Coast 93 miles
North Downs Way 123-130 miles
South Downs Way 99 miles
South West Coast path
The Thames path
The Ridgeway 85 miles. Ancient track along the chalk downs created to avoid the then forested lower ground. Evidence of its age abounds in "white horses" and standing stones.Click for photos
Pembrokeshire Coast path 186 miles
Glyndwr's Way(mid Wales) 132 miles

Wainwright's Coast to Coast (Lake District)190 miles
"AW" never intended walkers to follow his exact route, in which case the guide book was probably a mistake! St Bees Head to Robin Hood Bay. Hand written and drawn in the same style as the famous Lake District guides.

The Long Distance Walkers Handbook
A comprehensive directory of UK long-distance paths. With maps.Endorsed by LDWA
Long Distance Paths - South East England 
The south east might at first seem unpromising walking country, but for the many who live in the area, the "home" walks offer a valuable rescource for weekend walking. This book details the 17 major routes of the area. I recommend the Greensand Way, the the Saxon Shore Way and the Thames Path as three to try first. The North Downs Way is often seen as the premier walk of SE England, but although much of the walk is on the historic Pilgrims Way, I find the proximity of roads, especially since the building of the M25, make it not a first choice.

Discovery GPS ready Walking Guides to England & Wales 

London walks


The Ridges of Snowdonia Ashton Cicerone 12x17cm 244p showerproof bw
All the ridge walks with some off-beat narratives
The Welsh Peaks Poucher Constable ISBN-0094651507 12x18cm 426p bw
Now rather old but some accurate descriptions
The Mountains of Wales Nuttall Cicerone av 300p 12x17cm bw showerproof cover
The 2000 ft. mountains ("Nuttalls") of England and Wales in two (pocket sized) volumes. Reminiscent of the Wainwright guides in format and illustration. The Nuttalls have spend much time and energy in surveying the hills to establish the "Nuttall" list.
The High Summits of Wales Graham Uney
Guide to the Welsh mountains that qualify as "Hewitts" * plus an account of climbing the 137 summits in a single "round".
A possible alternative to the Nuttallbook. However, the format and soft cover will not lend it to being carried on the hill, unlike the Nuttall book with its plastic coated cover. 
A review in TGO voiced a concern that the book would lead to overuse erosion by summit baggers, but as many of these hills are relatively unpopular the reverse may prove to be the case if attention is spread away from the most popular hills in Snowdonia.
The Illustrations, recent and old photographs, etchings, paintings and some period tinted postcards, are very interesting and set the book apart from the run of guides. I found the maps a little 'muddy' in appearance as they have relief shading and aforestation in tones of grey, but still a useful addition to the library of anyone who wishes to explore Wales beyond the usual Snowdonian hills.
*Hills of 2000ft with drop of 30m all round.Wales 137, England 178
Related pages:-
Discovery GPS ready Walking Guides to England & Wales 
Snowdonia photos
Nantlle Ridge
The Ascent of Rum Doodle
Amusing send up of the standard expedition account.

The First Fifty Muriel Gray Corgi 
Listed here as humour but this is only part of the plot of this account of her first fifty Munros by the presenter of Scottish television's "Munro show".
"Munro bagging without a beard".
Good Reads
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
Groucho Marx 

The motivations that drive us to the hills are not unique to hillwalking and sometimes there can be more to learn from a seemingly unrelated subject than from a bloodless guidebook.

Wind, Sand and Stars St.Exupery Picador 
Autobiographic account of early mail flights across the Andes and Pyrennees.
On an approching cyclone above the Andes..
"The sky was blue.Pure blue.Too blue.A hard blue sky that shone over the scraped and barren world while the fleshless vertebrae of the mountain chain flashed in the sunlight"

"In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away, when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness"

This early flying account has the spirit of mountaineering, even if the epics take place in the clouds above rather than on the mountains.

Arabian Sands Thesiger
Riveting classic account of Thesigers life amoungst the Bedu of the Empty Quarter.An insight into the culture of desert arabs and how they survived in a hostile environment.
On losing some meat in the desert....
"I was angry, because this was the last meat we were likely to have for very many days.Musallim followed the tracks, and unearthed most of the meat where the fox had buried it under a bush.We brushed the sand off it, thankful to have recovered it."

The Marsh Arabs
"Each night as I lay down to sleep, a cloud of mosquitos settled on my face and a weight of fleas moved under my blanket, but I accepted this as a small price for the contentmemt I had found" 
"The Marsh Arabs"

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