Old Roads of Eastern Lakeland

In Old Roads of Eastern Lakeland, a publication by the Westmorland Gazette in 1985, Alfred Wainwright provides a detailed exploration of the often-neglected pre-turnpike tracks and roads that crisscross Eastern Lakeland. Despite its relative obscurity, the publication holds significant value for those interested in the rich tapestry of Eastern Lakeland’s past through its ancient thoroughfares.

Roads include:

The Roman Road over High Street

The road across Moor Divock

Social roads east of Ullswater

The Corpse Road

Swinedale to Mosedale Quarry

Garburn Pass

Kentmere to Longsleddale

Nan Bield Pass

Gatesgarth Pass

Longsleddale to Wet Sleddale

Old road over Shap Fells


Originally conceived as a collaborative effort between Alfred Wainwright and his friend Molly Lefebure in the 1970s, the project encountered a hiatus due to disagreements over the course of a drovers’ route from Shap. After a period of dormancy, Wainwright resurrected the project independently. In 1985, the Westmorland Gazette published the fruits of his labour—a seventy-page paperback detailing the old roads of Eastern Lakeland.

Old Roads of Eastern Lakeland
A £1.50 price sticker identifies a First Edition

Molly expressed dissatisfaction with the final outcome, feeling it did not align with her initial vision. However, despite its perceived shortcomings, the book has achieved success over time, becoming one of Alfred Wainwright’s more elusive and sought-after works.

While not officially included in the original Pictorial Guides series, Old Roads of Eastern Lakeland adhered to the same artistic approach, entirely hand-drawn without the use of printer’s type. Notably, this guide marks Alfred Wainwright’s final contribution to this genre of works.

Signed First Edition

The preliminary pages of the guide indicate its production through engravings, yet by 1985, the books had transitioned to a photographic process. It is likely that Wainwright, perhaps unfamiliar with contemporary printing methods, retained the original description from the initial Pictorial Guides, inadvertently maintaining an outdated portrayal of the production process.

Published and printed by the Westmorland Gazette
From 1988 onwards, the guide was printed by Titus Wilson

In 1985, a total of 5,000 guides were printed, with the initial few hundred sold for £1.50. Subsequently, the retail price experienced incremental increases, yet all copies were part of the same print run. Essentially, every book produced by the Gazette could be considered a First Edition, with the only distinguishing factor being the price sticker.

As of 1988, Titus Wilson became the printer for all Wainwright books published by the Gazette. Consequently, the shift to Titus Wilson is the key indicator for identifying guides printed later.

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