Monday, 14 December 2009

Heaven on Earth

Three books on the Lake District which I have much enjoyed, as well as finding useful. Alan Hankinson's retracing of Coleridge's famous journey is great, including the all-but-suicidal descent of Broad Stand between Scafell and Scafell Pike which the poet managed (at least, by his own account) but Hankinson prudently detoured. John Wyatt's The Bliss of Solitude joins his other books, compiled when he had the lovely job of Chief Ranger of the Lake District national park, in describing the area thoughtfully and well. That and Coleridge Walks the Fells were published, very handsomely, by Ellenbank Press in Maryport in 1991. Finally, And Nobody Woke Up Dead (Ernest Press 2006) is a jolly romp through the life of Mabel Barker, a woman among the dotty, corduroy-breached rock climbers of the early 20th century. It is a landscape populated by the best sort of Northerners - Quakers, idealists, members of Kibbo Kift and the Morris Dance Revival Society. As they say in the US after serving you gigantic platters of food; Enjoy! (including a wealth of pictures which set the tone, such as this one below with its delightful caption, on the back cover of the book's jacket). There's also excellent material on Millican Dalton, the famed 'Professor of Adventure', a City dropout who lived in a cave which can still be explored at the foot of Castle Crag near the Jaws of Borrowdale.

And here's Millican, having a picnic tea with Mabel (right) and a buddy. Click on any pic to enlarge.

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