Book review by Steve Matthews of Bookends.
A Wander to Wonder: The Best Walk in Borrowdale by David Woodthorpe. Bookcase. £10
David Woodthorpe lives in Grange in Borrowdale and he does the same short walk nearly every day. It begins in Grange and takes in an amazing variety of beautiful scenery from the side of Derwentwater to the foot of Castle Crag. And in that amazing variety of scenery he discovers and observes a wonderful diversity of natural life, of the animals, birds and insects and the flowers and the grasses. So although it is a short walk, barely six kilometres, capable of being route-marched in an hour, it is a walk that will take for ever.
It isn’t a challenging walk. It is, as David describes it, one that anyone can do: “Any reasonably fit pensioner, as I would describe myself, will have no trouble completing this walk. There’s no point suggesting to you how long this walk will take because, if like me you get easily distracted by the sights of such spectacular landscapes with lake and mountains, or by wild orchids in your path, by frogs, toads, birds nesting or feeding, by farmers tending their sheep or simply by bumping into other like minded fell walking visitors or locals with a story to tell, then this walk will take as long as it takes!”
David is no specialist natural historian. He is an ordinary person fascinated with the world around him. He is, however, a superb photographer. Walking the same path every day he notices the changes in the seasons, the changes in the weather, in the light, and he captures them quite beautifully. On one of those clear, crisp, frosty mornings Castle Crag rises supreme above a cloud of mist that hovers above the woods in the valley.
In another picture the whole valley is enveloped in mist and the hills rise like green islands in a foaming sea. A wide view looking north shows the upper slopes of Skiddaw and Blencathra coated in snow and the landscape below, the lower slopes of the fells and the wide spread of Derwentwater, crystal clear and bright.
There is a picture of a stile. It is white with frost on one side of the wall, but beyond the fields and hedges are golden in the early morning sun.
In other pictures there are toads and frogs, butterflies, lizards, dragonflies and other insects. A spider is seen in close-up weaving its web.
And there are pictures of orchids, and grasses and Herdwick sheep and the people of the valley.
David’s book is a love letter in words and pictures. The valley is his passion and this walk is truly a wander to wonder.
The beautiful photographs – and David has had the patience to capture some exceptional images – and the enthusiastic text, will delight anyone who takes this short walk in one of the most wondrous places in the Lakes.