Book Reviews / Roly Smith
of the magazine Outdoor Focus
The Grasmere Yearbook Bill Birkett Bill
Birkett Publishing, £26 (hb)
The Grasmere Yearbook Bill Birkett Bill Birkett Publishing, £26 (hb) For many people of a certain age, climber and photographer Bill Birkett and his family will always be associated with his beloved Langdale, and he admits that’s where his heart still lies. But Birkett moved to Benfield, just outside Grasmere, six years ago, and in this his latest self-published offering he gives us a stunning personal pictorial diary of a year in the life of his new home. Starting from the icy depths of winter when snow dusts the surrounding fells of the Fairfield Horseshoe, the author takes the reader through the ever-changing seasons of the central Lake District. A favourite shot in this section is the atmospheric “Fire on Stone Arthur” as sunlight illuminates clouds of spindrift flying off this little-visited shoulder of Great Rigg. .
Another dramatic skyscape is captured in the Spring section, looking north west from Tenter’s Field in Grasmere. Minute details add to the overall comprehensiveness of the photographic coverage, most notably in his close-ups of the flora of Grasmere. Birkett’s excellent photography, which characterised his classic Complete Lakeland Fells (1994) is enlivened in his latest book by his own informative and evocative extended captions. To most Lake District aficionados, Grasmere is of course best known as the home of William and Dorothy Wordsworth at the now incredibly popular Dove Cottage. But the author notes that Grasmere’s beauty even enchanted an authority as eminent as Charles Darwin, who wrote: “The scenery gave me more pleasure than I thought my soul… was capable of feeling.” This is a book to treasure, to dip into and to wonder at the intimate, affectionate relationship Birkett has built up with his new Lakeland home