I’m a professional writer, photographer and publisher. My specialities are mountains and wild places, particularly walking and climbing. My scope is worldwide – though my detailed knowledge is that of Britain and Ireland, particularly of the Lake District National Park and World Heritage Site. The Lake District is my home and I was born and bred here. I have an in depth knowledge of the culture, history and landscape of the Lake District and Lakeland Walks and Climbs.
An author and photographer of over thirty books. Please see below for a detailed breakdown. I have contributed both photographically and textually to many publications, both books and magazines, in addition to my own books.
I write and take photographs (separately or together) to commission and currently have three regular slots the ‘Bill Birkett’ page with Cumbria Life Magazine (monthly), the feature ‘Birkett’s Fells and Dales’ with Cumbria Magazine (monthly) and ‘Birkett On The Birketts’ with Lakeland Walker (bimonthly).
I regularly contribute to other publications.
I sell fine art photographic prints via this website and have a comprehensive photographic library particularly of the English Lake District.
My walking guidebooks to Lakeland Walks are the best selling guidebooks to their particular areas – see below.
I’m a Member of the ‘British Guild of Travel Writers’, ‘Outdoor Writers and Photographic Guild’ and ‘Society of Authors’.
(1) 1980; ‘Winter Climbs In The Lake District’, Cicerone. (Co-author). Guidebook. Reprinted 1982, 2nd Edition 1986, 3rd edition 1997.
BB SAYS: This is the book that started it all written with Bob Bennet and Andy Hyslop. Bob was the instigator. We offered it to the Fell & Rock Climbing Club for publication, gratis. and they turned it down, saying there wasn’t enough interest in Lakeland Winter Climbing! The late, Walt Unsworth, a fine writer in his own right, who then jointly owned and ran Cicerone Press took it immediately. Smart guy. Ironic that later it was to be ‘taken out of my hands’ by the new owners of Cicerone and the FRCC. Still not sure about the legality of this, but that apart, it just wasn’t a friendly thing to do.
(2) 1983; ‘Lakelands Greatest Pioneers’, Robert Hale. Climbing History.
BB SAYS: Written with a passion it tells the story of eleven great pioneers, their climbing lives and achievements, throughout the history of Lakeland Climbing from W P Haskett-Smith (first Lakeland new climb in 1882) to Pete Livesey (last Lakeland new climbs in 1978) and includes my story of Jim Birkett – my Dad (last Lakeland new climb in 1954). It was mainly written, on scrap paper, in pencil and biro, whilst I was nursing a broken wrist (having fallen off the Bowderstone when bouldering– no bouldering mats in those days). When I sent it, unsolicited, to publishers Robert Hale – London, they said they would publish but would I mind getting it typed first! I now realise just how very lucky I was!
(3) 1986; ‘Classic Rock Climbs In Great Britain’. Oxford Illustrated Press. Photo- illustrated reference/inspirational.
Paperback edition 1989. Republished by Promotional Reprint Company 1995.
BB SAYS: The inspiration and format for this was my ‘Climbs of Quality’ series which appeared monthly in ‘Climber & Rambler Magazine’. It was the publishers who gave it this title, despite my proclamations that publishers Diadem had already published an excellent book with the same title! Despite all the book was extremely popular and underwent a number of reprints and editions.
(4) 1987; ‘Classic Walks In Great Britain’. Oxford Illustrated Press. Photo-illustrated reference/inspirational. Paperback edition 1989. Republished by Promotional Reprint Company 1995.
BB SAYS: This was a nice format and a good outlet for my landscape photography although again Diadem had already published a superb book with this title – so the above title was not my choice. Despite all this it was a very successful book and again a great experience to visit and photograph the wonderfully diverse British countryside accompanied by like minded friends.
(5) 1987; ‘Rock Climbs In The Lake District’, Constable. (Co-author). Photo/guidebook. Now in 4th edition.
BB SAYS: I was very chuffed to join the existing team of Cram, Eilbeck and Roper on updating this hugely successful and useful selected rock climbing guide with a major outdoor publisher.
(6) 1988; ‘Modern Rock and Ice Climbing’, A&C Black. Photo-illustrated instructional book.
BB SAYS: The photographic representation of techniques and equipment was actually a first and is now widely copied. The section on how to choose and tie climbing knots was particularly clear and I have been delighted that numerous beginners with only one night using the book have been able to tie all the necessary knots for themselves.
(7) 1988; ‘The Hillwalker’s Manual’. Oxford Illustrated Press. Illustrated instructional. Hardback edition.
BB SAYS: To do this as a large format hardback edition was a strange publisher choice for this how to do reference book. Nevertheless the book was popular and well received. And I think it may well have been a first catering for mere ‘walkers’ as opposed to ‘mountaineers’.
(8) 1989; ‘Classic Rock Climbs In The Lake District’, Oxford Illustrated Press. Photo- illustrated reference/inspirational.
BB SAYS: A popular book and there a number of editions.
(9) 1990; ‘Women Climbing’, A&C Black. Illustrated History.
BB SAYS: A portrayal of some of the best and most influential women climbers throughout the history of climbing and mountaineering. This again was a first, a landmark book in fact, and remains an important source for students and researchers on the subject. Written jointly with my great pal, pioneer Lakeland rock climber Bill Peascod, this was, unbelievably, a rather taboo subject at the time of writing because, despite widespread denials to the contrary now, climbing and mountaineering at that time was very much a macho activity. It really came about because Bill, a coal miner from Britain’s working class, who was largely shunned by the establishment in his early climbing days, thought that prejudice against women in climbing was unacceptable and we were both
dazzled by the incredible achievements of Wanda Rutkiewicz and Catherine Destivelle and Britain’s Alison Hargreaves and Jill Lawrence. Sadly it took so long, to find a publisher brave enough to publish, that Bill died before the book saw the light of day.
(10) 1990; ‘Rock Climbing In Northern England’, Constable. (Co-author). Photo/Guidebook.
BB SAYS: This book, written photographed by myself and my friend John White was again very innovative in the way it photographically portrayed and ordered the areas, crags and climbs. Many of the essentials of this guidebook are now widely copied.
(11) 1990; ‘Classic Rock Climbs In Northern England’, Oxford Illustrated Press. Photo- illustrated reference/inspirational.
BB SAYS: A joy to photograph and put together.
(12) 1991; ‘Classic Rock Climbs In Southern England’, Oxford Illustrated Press. Photo- illustrated reference/inspirational.
BB SAYS: I’ll never forget the experience of climbing, photographing and adding a new direct start to the crumbling chalk arête peppered with razor sharp flints, of ‘Skeleton Ridge’ – Isle of Wight Needles, with the incomparable Mick Fowler and his mate Mike Morrison. Nor, come to think of it, following a young Dave Birkett who didn’t put any gear in the 30ft roof of Pat Littlejohn’s masterpiece Il Duce on Tintagel. Leaving me with a massive swing into space above a raging sea. This book was a real adventure.
(13) 1993; ‘French Rock’, Cicerone. Photo-illustrated Guidebook.
BB SAYS: Using photo-topos and maps the intention here was to direct people to the crags and some of the quality climbs because existing guidebooks at that time where, on the whole, pretty poor. It was never intended to comprehensively detail all the routes (which would have been impossible) or cater for the cutting edge of climbing. It must have worked because I still see people using this guidebook on the crags of France.
It was great book to undertake andexploring the crags and climbs of France accompanied by many friends, and often a young Dave Birkett, was a pure pleasure.
(14) 1993; ‘The Hillwalker’s Manual’, Cicerone. Illustrated Instructional. Softback Edition. New Edition autumn 2001.
BB SAYS: Cicerone changed this into a much more manageable and user friendly format. It’s still relevant and popular and available from Cicerone.
(15) 1994; ‘Complete Lakeland Fells’, Harper Collins. Photo-illustrated reference/inspirational. Various Editions. Reprinted 1996 and 2000.
BB SAYS: It was an exciting moment when major publisher Harper Collins asked me to do a book on the Lake District. When I asked them just what they wanted they simply said you decide! Obviously there are many books on the Lake District and Lakeland Walks on the market so I thought it was a golden opportunity to do the book I had always wanted to see but never appeared – a single book that properly detailed all the Lakeland Fells in one single volume. This is an attractive, well structured and superbly photographically illustrated book that covers walks that ascend all the tops over 1,000ft in the Lake District National Park. The team at Harper Collins and my editor Tom Whiting did a superb job and the book is still widely used today and all the tops detailed have become widely known as ‘THE BIRKETT’S’. The last few remaining hardback copies, signed, are for sale in SHOP.
(16) 1997; ‘Lakeland Fells Almanac’, NWP. Guidebook.
BB SAYS: My friend and then editor of TGO Magazine, Cameron McNeish, pointed Neil Wilson (NWP Publishing), who had already published Cameron’s guidebook to the Scotttish ‘MUNRO’s’ in my direction with the view to producing a carryable on the hill guidebook version of ‘THE BIRKETT’S’. It worked well and is still used extensively. Signed copies are available from SHOP.
(17) 1999; ‘Great British Ridge Walks,’ David & Charles. Photo-illustrated reference/inspirational.
BB SAYS: A new publisher and a great editor in Sue Vickers. This was a lovely book to research, walk/scramble, and photograph on some of Britain’s finest mountains. Once the good weather arrived in Scotland, after months and months of continuous rain, I just kept walking and photographing every day for days until my legs seized and I collapsed onto the floor of my trusty Nissan Campervan. Fortunately I’d reached Ullapool and replenishment was plentiful.
(18) 2000; ‘Classic Treks of The World’ – Packaged by Quarto Publishing London and published worldwide (by Bullfinch in USA and David & Charles in UK. (Consulting/commissioning Editor and contributor). Photo-illustrated reference/inspirational.
BB SAYS: This was a great project and I worked with some really marvellous, inspirational professionals and friends. Thanks guys.
(19) 2001; ‘Exploring Lakes & Low Fells Vol 1’, David & Charles. Photo-illustrated Guidebook.
(20) 2001; ‘Exploring Lakes & Low Fells Vol 2’, David & Charles. Photo-illustrated Guidebook.
BB SAYS: Covering some 80 Lakeland Walks these books are perhaps the most comprehensive Lakeland Walking guidebooks ever produced. They offer walks of an easier to moderate nature, within the Lake District national Park, suitable for families or should the weather be too bad to venture onto the high fells. I really enjoyed walking and photographing these Lakeland Walks and again working with Sue Vickers and all at David and Charles. More a group of friends rather than a significant publisher. We had extensive and exciting plans ahead. Then suddenly the company was sold and everything changed virtually overnight. I told myself never to work for a publisher again. These books were ‘Highly Commended In The Titus Wilson Lakeland Book of the Year Awards’. I hope to republish these books as one guidebook on Lakeland Walks, through Bill Birkett Publishing, in the near future.
(21) 2002; ‘50 Walks In The Lake District’, AA. (Main Contributor). Illustrated Guidebook. Many Reprints and Editions.
BB SAYS: I broke my rule and regretted it. Despite promises a new editor changed the title of this book from ‘50 Walks in Cumbria’, no obvious conflict with the above titles on Lakeland Walks, to ‘50 Walks in The Lake District’. So in the end I only did about 50% of the walks and others added the rest. I notice that in the latest edition, it’s a very good seller, that all reference to myself and the other contributors has been dropped. This may be legal, because we sold the rights, but hey, wouldn’t it be nice to be appreciated. We are writers not robots for goodness sake and just because we work for peanuts it doesn’t mean we’re monkeys.
(22) 2004; ‘A Year In The Life of the Langdale Valleys’, Frances Lincoln. Photographic, Factual. Reprinted in 2005. Best Outdoor Book 2005 – Outdoor Writers’ Guild.
BB SAYS: John Nicoll, who took over Frances Lincoln, after the sad death of his wife Frances Lincoln, contacted me and asked me to produce this book. I said I wasn’t really interested and was somewhat disenfranchised with publishers but if wanted to buy me lunch he could meet me at the Three Shires Inn in Little Langdale which was next door to my old home. Cheeky. This he did and put my mind to rest about a number of concerns. Of course, logically, it was the dream project, to photograph and write about my native Langdales. I had been doing just that for years in any case. Everything John said was honoured and this combined with working with designer, Jane Havell, produced a superb and magical book which is still in print and sought after today. It won the ‘Outdoor Writer’s and Photographer’s Guild Award for Excellence’ and was ‘Highly Commended in the Lakeland Book Of The Year Awards’. It was the forerunner of a number of successful ‘A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF’ books detailed below
(23) 2005; ‘A Year In The Life of Borrowdale’, Frances Lincoln. Photographic/Factual.
BB SAYS; Another great book to work on covering the extensive and diverse Lake District Valley of Borrowdale that by many is considered to be the ‘most beautiful valley on earth’.
24) 2005; ‘A Year In The Life of Glencoe’, Frances Lincoln. Photographic/Factual.
BB SAYS: Although I have spent much time climbing and walking in Glencoe, and was most probably conceived in the Kingshouse Inn (!), I was rather worried about how a work by a Sassenach would be received in the Scottish Press. To my great delight it got rave reviews and was listed by one newspaper as their Scottish book of the year.
(25) 2006; ‘A Year In The Life of The Duddon Valley’, Frances Lincoln. Photographic/Factual.
BB SAYS: This valley is one of quietest and most secretive in the whole of The Lake District National Park, it is also one the most beguiling and fascinating. The book proved not only Nationally popular but was also a best seller around The Duddon and Cumbria’s West Coast. There’s something special about being be recognised in your own backyard so to speak. It won the ‘Dalesman Award For Best Outdoor Book’ and was ‘Runner Up In The Lakleand Book of The Year Awards’.
(26) 2006; ‘The English Lakes – Memories of Times Past’, Worth Press Ltd. (Co-author). Illustrated/Factual/History.
BB SAYS: It was a pleasure to work with my friend Jane Renouf (co-author) and this attractive book won the ‘Lakeland Book of The Year Award – Bill Rollinson Trust Prize’.
(27) 2007; ‘Scafell – Portrait of a Mountain’, Frances Lincoln. Photographic/Factual.
BB SAYS: The Scafells form the highest mountain massif in England. A fascinating mountain world rich, and unique, both in natural history and also in man’s involvement with the mountain. A cultural icon many walkers ascend to it’s heights, fell runners take on it’s challenge from both Borrowdale and Wasdale and during the marathon ‘Bob Graham Round’, whilst to rock climbers and winter mountaineers it’s challenging cliffs constitute some of the most important in Britain. Samuel Coleridge and Dorothy Wordsworth have both written about its intimacies. Yet, unknown by the many who celebrate their ascent on the commanding summit cairn, only a few feet away there is the important evidence that this was once an important site in prehistory and stones axes were crafted here in Neolithic times. And for centuries, on its steep slopes, the Herdwick sheep and local hill farmers, from the many different surrounding valleys below, have sought to eke out an existence from this demanding terrain and its extreme seasonal variations in weather. I’ve climbed, walked and photographed these heights from early childhood and this book is a celebration of all I know and love about the mountain. The book won the ‘Lakleand Book of The Year David Winkworth Prize’ and was ‘Runner up for The Hunter Davies Prize’. Copies signed by me are available from the SHOP.
(28) 2008; ‘A Year In The Life of The Isle of Skye’, Frances Lincoln. Photographic/Factual.
BB SAYS: This is one of my very favourite areas of the world, I have tremendous friends here, and I have climbed and walked here for a large part of my life making first ascents on it’s spectacularly vertical sea cliffs and high in the incomparable Cuillin Mountains. The magical Isle of Skye gets under your skin like nowhere else and in many ways, though I’m a Lakeland lad bred and born, it feels like my second home. This spectacular book reflects my love and understanding of this remarkable landscape.
(29) 2009; ‘A Year In The Life of Buttermere’, Frances Lincoln. Photographic/Factual.
BB SAYS: Lakeland’s other ‘most beautiful’ valley in the world! This book was ‘Runner Up for the David Winkworth Lakeland Book Of The Year Prize’.
(30) 2009; ‘A Year In The Life of Snowdonia’, Frances Lincoln. Photographic/Factual.
BB SAYS: I have walked and climbed in the wonderful Snowdonia National Park since I was a teenager and lead my first ‘extreme’ climbs here when I was only sixteen. A book that captures something of the diversity and contrasts of this magnificent mountain region.
BILL BIRKETT PUBLISHING WAS FOUNDED IN 2009 AND IS THE LEADING PUBLISHER OF LAKELAND WALKS GUIDEBOOKS
Lakeland walks Books for Retail are available from Cordee (National Distribution), Hills Books (Cumbria), PR Books (Cumbria), and directly from Bill Birkett. Individual signed copies are available in SHOP. BB SAYS: I started Bill Birkett Publishing because I wanted to write, photograph, design and have complete control over any further Lakeland Walks guidebooks I produced. The books are printed by local Cumbrian Printers Badger Press based in Bowness near Windermere and the whole thing is originated and produced in the Lake District National Park – World Heritage Site by Lakeland people who live and work here. As practical, easily used and accurate Lakeland Walking guidebooks these books are unsurpassed and they have all been reprinted many times. They are the best selling single guides to each of their respective areas and the range presently covers four major and diverse walking areas within the Lake District National Park. Each walk also has up to four colour photographs which capture the spirit, beauty and unique nature of these special places within the Lake District National Park. It is also intended that ‘Walk Patterdale & Ullswater’ will soon be added to the list and that the 80 easy to moderate walks of ‘Exploring Lakes and Low Fells’ will appear in a single reasonably priced guidebook covering the whole region.
(31) 2009; ‘Walk The Langdales’, Bill Birkett Publishing. Photographic/Factual. Reprinted in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 (twice), 2015 (twice), 2016 (twice) & 2017.
Available in SHOP.
(32) 2010; ‘Walk Ambleside, Rydal and Grasmere’, Bill Birkett Publishing. Photographic/Factual. Reprinted in 2014, 2015 (thrice), 2017 & 2017 (twice).
(33) 2012; ‘Walk Windermere & Hawkshead’, Bill Birkett Publishing. Photographic/Factual. Reprinted in 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017.
(34) 2014; ‘Walk Borrowdale &Keswick’, Bill Birkett Publishing. Photographic/Factual. Reprinted in 2016 & 2017.