Can the newer, modern Lakeland Fellranger Guides knock the mighty Wainwright off his perch?
I started getting the Wainwright guides as Christmas presents from my 2 sons. I have about 3 now, all the second edition, revamped ones by Chris Jetty. I find them useful armchair reading, but they’re not something I would take on the hill with me. They are, however, the reference guide for all serious Lakeland hill walkers.
Then out comes Mark Richards with his Lakeland Fellranger series of books, an ambitious project to map the lakes with all the routes to every summit. The project began in 2008 and is still in progress. There are six guides to date with two more to come. We were sent to two latest guides to review: The Western and North Western Fells.
The first difference you will notice is the size, the Fellranger format is just about A5 and they pack in the information, so I wasn’t about to pack this in my rucksack. The guide is in full colour and absolutely jam packed full of colour maps, photographs, routes plans and panoramas. The mapping is provided by Harvey, its 1:40 000 scale fits nicely with the BMC Mountain Map series and all photographs and diagrams are provided by Mark. The cover was tough PVC so should last some time.
The mountains were listed alphabetically, which I found very easy to use and find; a quick flick got me to the mountain I wanted to read up on. Once there I found some introductory information about the mountain itself and some lovely anecdotal prose. On top of that there was a colour photo and a map showing all the routes to follow. Routes are coloured red (to compliment Harvey) and starting points in blue. All the routes are then described in great detail and gave up to date information on path condition, cairn locations and safe descents.
Routes were enhanced with both pictorial and photographic diagrams. Other interesting features were photographed and added interest to the walk. Once at the top of you chosen route a full panorama was given from all compass points. Very useful if like me you’re useless at knowing where everything is. The guide did state that downloadable panoramas in pdf format were available from Marks website and I eventually found them in the Lakeland Fellranger section. They are a good resource and save you having to carry the guide with you.
Are these new guides better than the Wainwrights…? Yes! I would definitely recommend these guides to someone new to The Lakes; they are much more modern, useful in their layout and will provide plenty of information to offer you a thorough exploration of every corner. I can see me collecting these and buying them for others as gifts.
I would have liked to have seen more use of GPS technology in the guide; A GPS is fast becoming an everyday item in the hill walkers pack. Detailed grid references of summits and confusing areas would be useful for both planning using digital mapping and mountain safety. I would also have liked to seen a tick list at the back with space for date of ascent and notes.
Will they knock the Wainwrights off their perch? I don’t know, they’re too engrained in the British psyche for that but The Lakeland Fellranger guides are definitely more modern and more useful as a guide. If it was a toss-up between to the two for me I’d go for the Lakeland Fellranger guides.
Author: Mark Richards.
RRP £12.95 – £14.95