The Lake District Survival Guide by Ian Young. Inspired by Lakeland. £8.
This is the indispensable book for any and all Lakeland visitors. The Lakes are not a land of entrancing beauty, of sublime mountains and shimmering water, but a strange territory where many elephant traps await the unwary.
The man who understands these problems is Ian Young. We should all be eternally grateful to him as, in this slim little book with its bright red cover, he provides “The essential toolkit for surviving life in Cumbria as a tourist or a local.”
He warns about encountering poets, middle-aged people wearing lycra and men rolling around fields in their undies.
And he warns about Wainwright. Apparently, “on his wedding night, possibly excited by the impending nuptials, Alfred threw caution to the wind and removed his cap.” He also walked the fells and they’ve been renamed The Wainwrights, all 214 of them.
And he warns about Melvyn Bragg, “the Braggster, Lord of all Wigton” who pronounces that “art and the Lakes are symbiotic.”
Children and the Lakes, or at least the mountains, don’t mix. Ian took his daughter for a flattish walk near Caldbeck and within half an hour, despite his constant stream of witty conversation, she was on her knees questioning the whole point of existence and the point of going for a walk. It is a common Lakeland experience. Ian has one key solution – Haribos – and the perpetual parental lie that offers one at the next bend, then rock, then bridge or tree until eventually the child is on her knees again and you have to drip feed her Haribos. Life isn’t easy for the adventurous fell-walking parent.
Then there’s Tizzie Whizies in Windermere and Stravas with their statistics on the fells and the poor bemused husband with his GPS. And of course the poets. Coleridge wasn’t writing about Xanadu when he wrote “beware the ceaseless turmoil, the huge fragments rebounding like hail” (or something like it). He was writing about Aira Force.
There’s also a useful guide to the sheep you might meet. The Herdwick’s like Mr Tummus from Narnia. The Swaledale is like Princess Leia got up to rob fags from the local garage. And a “Ewe – is not me” and “Tupping – is sheep naughtiness.”
Guidance is needed for eating out. Ian encountered a fricassee with al forno vegetables and a carpaccio side all served on a roof tile.
Ian’s drawn some very useful illustrations. There’s one of Wainwright working in a cloud of pipe smoke, one of a very woolly sheep and one of a woolly cloud and one of the mist descending.
And there’s much, much else from wild camping, to Wainwright speed dating and thoughtful chapters on Philosophy in the Lakes and Melv and Alf’s book review.
On the wettest of wettest wet days, with several pints and a big warm fire, this may prove to be an indispensable survival guide.