Jun 19

A quartet of very different Lake District books

by in Cumbria, Guide, Writing

Four special Lake District Books Cumbria

“I’m coming to the Lake District on holiday. What book would you recommend?” Well, that really depends on what kind of book you’re looking for. There are so many Lake District books: traditional guide books, walking books, novels, biographies, photography books, children’s books … Here are four of my favourites.

Lake District Books

I Never Knew that about the Lake District - Christopher WinnI never knew that about the Lake District by Christopher Winn

Did you know that Fletcher Christian, he of Mutiny on the Bounty, was born in Cockermouth? Or that the ‘Yellow Earl‘, past owner of Lowther Castle, was the only man other than Winston Churchill to have a Cuban cigar named after him (the Lonsdale Cigar)? Well, if you read ‘I never knew that about the Lake District‘ you’ll find out hundreds of fascinating snippets and facts about the area. The book is divided up into geographical sections ie The Central Lakes, The Lakeland Coast, Windermere, so it covers Cumbria, not just the Lake District National Park. Charming illustrations by Mai Osawa add to the this delightful book’s appeal. It would make a great gift for a fan of the lakes; I was given it as a birthday present and regularly dip into it. Note to the author: the 201o edition could do with updating as a few things have changed eg many more local breweries and visitor attractions now.

More about I never knew that about the Lake District and other books by Christopher Winn


Dances with the Daffodils - Matthew ConnollyDances with the Daffodils by Matthew Connolly 

I chose this book from a host of books by local authors laid out on our tables at the Cumbria Family Business Awards 2017. (Well done to the organisers for an original way to support Cumbrian writers.) Author Matthew Connolly explained how the novel was inspired by the story behind one of the most famous English poems, William Wordsworth’s Daffodils. The poet’s sister, Dorothy Wordsworth, wrote an entry in her diary on April 15th 1802 referring to a walk she and her brother took beside Ullswater where they saw daffodils that ‘tossed and reeled and danced’ in the wind. In the book, Luke, who’s returning to the area after 20 years of travelling, visits the lake and sees a ‘thin, gypsy-tanned woman … hopping along the lane like a chaffinch,‘ admiring the daffodils, beside ‘… a tall and ugly mantis of a creature.’ (William). Luke is immediately attracted to Dorothy, ‘as she knelt among the daffodils like some pagan goddess.’ I thoroughly enjoyed this poignant love story, especially seeing Dorothy in a different light, as a feisty young woman, torn between her love for her brother and another. It’s also a love story to south Lakeland, its local culture and heritage, which the author clearly knows well.

More on Dances with Daffodils here

Photographer's guide to Lake District by Ellen BownessThe Photographer’s Guide to The Lake District by Ellen Bowness

‘The Lake District is a beautiful part of the UK and it’s jam-packed with photogenic locations, from lakes and fells to waterfalls and caves.’ The opening to this gem of a book says it all; here is a comprehensive guide to the best places to get the perfect photo of the top sights in the Lakes. Local Ellen Bowness is a self-confessed travel photography addict who shares her professional knowledge of the area so the rest of us can find the perfect location. The book includes directions, maps, parking and satnav information as well advice on the best time of year to visit. Many popular sites feature, including Cat Bells overlooking Derwentwater, Grasmere and Castle Rigg Stone Circle, but also lesser known gems like Innominate Tarn,a favourite of Lakeland walker Alfred Wainwright and Ritson’s Force at Wasdale Head. One for photographers of all levels from beginner to expert.

More on The Photographer’s Guide to the Lake District here

Small island by little train - Chris ArnotSmall Island by Little Train – a narrow-gauge adventure by Chris Arnot

OK, this book is not only about the Lake District; it’s a journey round the nation’s narrow-gauge railways, but it has a very interesting chapter about one of this area’s most popular tourist attractions. In a chapter entitled ‘Return Ticket to Red Squirrels’ author Chris Arnot travels on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Light Railway. which runs through some of the most beautiful scenery in England. He also meets some of the enthusiasts who run L’al Ratty, as it’s known locally. He talks with Peter Van Zellar, who sums up the appeal of this country railway. “You are conscious of being part of the scenery but, beyond the track, that scenery changes every day. You might see a buzzard one minute and a herd of red deer the next.” The author shares some local history and has a humorous style reminiscent of Bill Bryson and his Notes from a Small Island, on which this book is vaguely modelled.

Disclosure: I was sent this book by publishers The AA for review. It fits very nicely within into the Quirky Travel niche.

More on Small Island by Little Train here.

I hope you have enjoyed this review of some Quirky Travel Lake District Books. What’s you favourite book about where you live? Please leave your thoughts and any recommendations in the Comment Box below 🙂

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7 Responses to “A quartet of very different Lake District books”

  1. From Zoe Dawes:

    If you have a favourite book about the Lake District, or your own area do leave a recommendation here 🙂

    Posted on June 24, 2017 at 10:14 am #
  2. From Jason Evans:

    Great selection of books. Love the Lake District and always on the look-out for good guide books. That Photography guide looks very useful.

    Posted on June 26, 2017 at 10:51 am #
  3. From Zoe Dawes:

    Glad you like them Jason. It’s an eclectic mix so hopefully something for everyone. Ellen has published a number of other Photography Guides, including one for London that I am looking forward to using on my next visit to the capital.

    Posted on June 26, 2017 at 11:04 am #
  4. From Ellen Bowness:

    A great roundup Zoe and thank you for the inclusion of The Photographer’s Guide. I’d not stumbled across “I never knew that about the Lake District”, but glad you included it – that’s Christmas presents for a few different friends sorted!

    Posted on June 26, 2017 at 7:24 pm #
  5. From Matthew Connolly:

    I’m honoured and grateful to have my debut novel chosen by you as a good Lake District read! I was inspired to write Dances with the Daffodils by the sublime Lakeland landscape and that’s been the inspiration for my second book, too, a Gothic love story set in the Lakes – and an unabashed recreation of Wuthering Heights, my favourite novel. Out later this year!

    Posted on June 27, 2017 at 7:33 pm #
  6. From Zoe Dawes:

    Your Photography Guide is a really great book Ellen. The combination of photography sites with a bit of info about the place, combined with your beautiful photography, is a real winner! Looking forward to seeing where the series takes you next 🙂

    Posted on June 29, 2017 at 12:58 pm #
  7. From Zoe Dawes:

    Can’t wait for your next novel Matthew! Love the Bronte stories and sure you will have an interesting take on Wuthering Heights. Have you been to the Branwell exhibition at the Bronte Parsonage? http://www.thequirkytraveller.com/2017/03/branwell-bronte-parsonage-museum-exhibition Hope ‘Dances with the Daffodils’ sells very well.

    Posted on June 29, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

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