The Eastern Fells

The Eastern Fells was published in May 1955 and was dedicated to:

“THE MEN OF THE ORDNANCE SURVEY whose maps of Lakeland have given me much pleasure both on the fells and by my fireside


On November 9, 1952, Alfred Wainwright embarked on a dedicated 13-year project, crafting seven Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. These guides meticulously detail numerous routes to ascend a total of 214 fells. The first book in the series was finalised by Christmas 1954, with each page intricately written and hand-drawn. Faced with the choice of self-publishing, Wainwright grappled with the potential rejection from a major publisher, fearing it would be a significant setback. Moreover, he was apprehensive that external publishers might alter the layout and employ their own typesetting. Determined to retain complete control, Wainwright opted for self-publishing as the most fitting path for his vision.

Wainwright brought the manuscript to the nearby printer, Bateman and Hewitson Ltd, on Finkle Street. There, he handed Sandy Hewitson a box containing the handwritten pages. As Sandy opened the box, he methodically and attentively examined each page. The sheer brilliance of Wainwright’s work captivated him, and he marvelled at the rarity of encountering a handwritten book reminiscent of the craftsmanship seen in medieval times.

The Eastern Fells Pages
Would Wainwright’s gamble pay off?

Upon Wainwright’s request, Sandy calculated the cost of producing 500 copies, but the expense proved impractical. The only viable solution to reduce the per-copy cost was to print 2,000 copies, amounting to a total cost of £900. This revelation dismayed Wainwright, as he possessed only £35 to his name. However, Sandy provided reassurance, expressing confidence that the book would sell well. He assured Wainwright that he could settle the amount gradually as the books were sold. Delighted by this arrangement, Wainwright accepted the offer.

Wainwright sought advice from Henry Marshall, the Chief Librarian of Kendal and Westmorland. He suggested that taking on both the roles of author and publisher might not be ideal. As a result, Henry assumed the position of Wainwright’s publisher, managing sales and distribution from his home in Kentmere. Wainwright also preferred Henry’s name to his. The engravings for the guide were created in Manchester, and the printing process was carried out collaboratively by the Westmorland Gazette in association with Bateman and Hewitson Ltd.

Although sales were sluggish initially, The Eastern Fells eventually gained traction, with all 2,000 copies selling before the spring of 1956. Wainwright, Henry, and the Gazette’s Printing Manager Harry Firth actively promoted the books by visiting central Lake District towns. Additional marketing efforts included the production of leaflets to stimulate more orders. The book garnered further attention through a hand-drawn advertisement in June’s Cumbria magazine, and a positive review was featured in The Scouter magazine in July 1955.

Cumbria magazine June 1955

The compact guide, priced at 12s 6d, boasted over 300 pages and a stunning array of no fewer than 500 beautiful illustrations. Noteworthy features included rounded corners on the case and pages, facilitating effortless removal from one’s pocket. The aesthetically pleasing design was enhanced with attractive gold blocking on the front cover and spine.


A First Edition is identified by:

  1. Dark green case with round corners and gold blocking
  2. No impression number
  3. Book Two listed as – in preparation
In preparation helps identify a First Edition
The Eastern Fells With No Jacket
The Eastern Fells – First Edition with a dark green case and gold blocking

The second impression, introduced during Easter 1956, featured the addition of a dust jacket. The case material exhibited a considerably darker hue than the first impression. First Edition owners were offered the option to request a complimentary dust jacket from the Gazette. It’s worth mentioning that the early jackets lacked lamination, causing the paper to gradually absorb the gold blocking from the front of the guide over time.

The Eastern Fells First and Second Impression
The dust jacket absorbed the second impression gold blocking
The dust jacket reveals the absorbed gold blocking

Several years later, the Gazette acquired Bateman & Hewitson Ltd. Eric Bateman seamlessly transitioned to the Gazette, assuming the role of foreman in the bindery department, where he remained until his retirement in the 1970s. In gratitude for Eric’s invaluable assistance in producing the Pictorial Guide series, Wainwright presented him with a complete set of signed guides, individually bestowed as each was published.

The Eastern Fells
The Westmorland Gazette acquired Bateman & Hewitson Ltd

In 1955, the first The Eastern Fells emerged from the press under the careful oversight of Eric Teby, the Printing Foreman at the Gazette. It was signed by Wainwright and preserved in mint condition for decades. It was eventually acquired by Kirkland Books of Kendal, established by David Stockley in 1980. He was the authority on Wainwright book collecting in Cumbria for many years. After David’s retirement, the shop changed ownership and was eventually dissolved in 2020.

Eric Teby, the Printing Foreman at the Westmorland Gazette (screenshot courtesy of the BBC)
The Eastern Fells - First Editions
The first book off the press, alongside Eric Bateman’s personal copy
The Eastern Fells Original Negatives
A sample of the original The Eastern Fells printing negatives

Sales gained momentum around the fifth impression, and with the release of The Southern Fells in 1960, The Eastern Fells had already reached its sixth impression.

The Eastern Fells Impressions
The first five impressions of The Eastern Fells
The Eastern Fells
The Eastern Fells prices between 1955 and 1981
The Eastern Fells
All dust jackets printed from the mid-1980s were laminated
The Eastern Fells Dust Jacket Negative 3
Westmorland Gazette dust jacket negative from the 1970s
Westmorland Gazette dust jacket negative from the 1980s
The Eastern Fells Dust Jacket Negative
Westmorland Gazette dust jacket negative from the 1980s
Westmorland Gazette dust jacket positive from the 1980s
Westmorland Gazette dust jacket positive from the 1980s

The Eastern Fells underwent several physical alterations and received new editions from various publishers. In 1971, with the advent of decimalisation, the guide’s first price in the new currency was set at 90p. Subsequently, the once-round corners were replaced with square ones, contributing to cost efficiency in case production. A few years later, a scarcity of case colours emerged due to oil shortages in the Middle East, affecting the Gazette’s supplier in Nuneaton. Consequently, the original seven-book colours were replaced by a variety: yellow, grey, burgundy, and blue.

The Eastern Fells
The Eastern Fells with a darker textured case from the 1960s
The Eastern Fells
A master binding copy from the 1970s (to ensure the sections were collated correctly)
A Burgandy The Eastern Fells
This rare textured burgundy case was also used for the Pennine Way Companion

In the mid-1970s, material shortages escalated, leading the Gazette, with Wainwright’s approval, to adopt a uniform green-coloured faux leather case for all guides. As the demand increased, guides were printed in batches of 3,000 per impression, with binding carried out in increments of 1,000 at a time. The persistent shortages occasionally resulted in using multiple case types for the same impression.

The Eastern Fells 39th Impressions
Two Thirtyninth impressions…
The Eastern Fells Case Types
…with different coloured cases
Case examples from the 1970s

By the latter half of 1980, the gold blocking on the front of the case was eliminated, as it became redundant with the introduction of dust jackets for the guides. This strategic decision also led to a reduction in production costs. Another modification occurred in the subsequent two years: the printed prices on the dust jackets were replaced with stickers. Numerous jackets with older prices were clipped or covered with stickers to update existing inventory.

In the mid-1980s, the long-standing practice of including impression numbers on the guides was discontinued. This change simplified the design and eliminated one printing plate for each new impression. Given that some books had reached their hundredth impression, the numbers had become less relevant.

The Eastern Fells signed in 1973
The Eastern Fells signed in 1980
The Eastern Fells signed in 1982
The Eastern Fells signed in 1985
The Eastern Fells Signed 1985
The Eastern Fells signed in 1985
The Eastern Fells signed in 1986
The Eastern Fells signed in 1987
Case examples from the 1980s

The faux leather cases produced in the 1980s displayed a smoother texture compared to those from the mid to late 1970s. A close inspection of the case material can identify the approximate printing date. In 1988, Titus Wilson & Son Ltd secured a four-year contract to print the Wainwright guides, while the Gazette retained the publishing rights. See The Gazette Prints its Final Book for the whole story.

Titus Wilson 1990 8
Titus Wilson purchased additional printing equipment for the guidebooks in 1990
The Eastern Fells Westmorland Gazette Invoices
The Westmorland Gazette’s final Titus Wilson order

Several months following Wainwright’s passing, the book publishing rights transitioned to Michael Joseph. The debut of the new guides occurred in April 1992 and proved successful. The initial impression, printed in Kendal by Titus Wilson, carried a retail price of £8.99. Regrettably, in the spring of 1993, Michael Joseph discontinued their association with Titus Wilson, relocating the printing operations to Bungay, Suffolk, for all subsequent impressions. This move diverged from Wainwright’s preferences.

The Eastern Fells Dust Jacket Bromide
Michael Joseph’s dust jacket artwork from 1992
The Eastern Fells Michael Joseph Prelims
The Eastern Fells Prelims were produced for Michael Joseph by Chris Jesty
The Eastern Fells Michael Joseph Publications
Michael Joseph’s publications from 1992 and the new prelim designs
Michael Joseph’s book launch marketing material
The negatives for the book launch marketing material
Michael Joseph’s final Titus Wilson order

For the subsequent decade, the guides stayed in the South of England. Around the turn of the millennium, book sales started to decelerate, leading to the eventual transfer of copyright to Betty Wainwright. Her name graced a few more impressions before Michael Joseph ceased the publication of the guides in 2003.

For the first time, Wainwright’s renowned guides went out of print. However, the sorrow was brief, as the Gazette revealed Frances Lincoln as the new publisher. Moreover, the guides were set to return to their original home in Kendal. The official launch occurred in April 2003, with each guide priced at £11.99. Rapid sales by Easter prompted Titus Wilson to enlarge their premises to accommodate the increased stock. Given their success, Frances Lincoln promptly commenced preparations for their next significant book launch.

The Eastern Fells Two Impressions Frances Lincoln 2003
Two impressions of The Eastern Fells from Frances Lincoln 2003
Frances Lincoln’s dust jacket (formerly Michael Joseph’s) negative from 2003
Frances Lincoln’s dust jacket (formerly Michael Joseph’s) negative from 2003

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Wainwright’s inaugural guidebook in May 1955, Frances Lincoln embarked on a celebratory project. They carefully scanned Wainwright’s original artwork for the new guides. In cases where some pages were absent, scans from older guides were utilised to fill the gaps seamlessly. To maintain authenticity, the paper was sourced from James Cropper of Burneside to match the First Editions precisely. The binding material was also chosen to match that of the original guides.

The Eastern Fells Fells 50th Anniversary Edition

From left to right:
The Eastern Fells (50th), F. Lincoln 2005
The Eastern Fells (50th) Leather-Bound, F. Lincoln 2005

The Eastern Fells Printers Proof
The Eastern Fells – 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Leather-Bound printers proof
The gold blocking would return for the first time in 25 years
The 50th Anniversary Edition positives
The 50th Anniversary Edition printed sheets
Frances Lincoln’s dust jacket positive from 2005
Frances Lincoln’s dust jacket positive from 2005
Frances Lincoln’s dust jacket positive from 2005
Frances Lincoln’s dust jacket positive from 2005
The original dust jacket masters
Typo present in all Kendal printed 50th Anniversary Edition guides
Frances Lincoln’s final Titus Wilson order
The 50th Anniversary Editions were printed in various locations worldwide: Italy, Singapore, Thailand and China

The 50th Anniversary Editions debuted in paperback format and were presented as a box set in June 2023. See the Wainwright Box Set Collection for details.

The Eastern Fells Paperback
The Eastern Fells – 50th Anniversary Edition paperback

The 50th Anniversary Editions, initially printed in Kendal, were priced at £11.99 upon launch, later increasing to £12.99. A limited run of 200 Leather-Bound box sets were also available for £250. In 2006, the guides departed from their original printing location in Kendal, undergoing printing processes in Italy, Singapore, and Thailand before ultimately relocating to China, accompanied by a price adjustment to £13.99.

The original books are works of art and masterpieces of their era. However, by 2003, they had become outdated and impractical for contemporary walk planning. Recognising this, Frances Lincoln created a new guidebook series tailored for use on the fells. A crucial objective was maintaining fidelity to Wainwright’s originals on each page. Chris Jesty, a cartographer from Kendal, was entrusted with this delicate task, dedicating a decade of his life to the project.

The Eastern Fells – Second Edition was released in June 2005, priced at £12.99. Subsequently, the cost rose to £13.99 and later to £14.99. In 2007, Chris Jesty made amendments to the guide. The guides underwent printing processes in Singapore, Thailand, and China.

Frances Lincoln’s road map. Not all publication dates are correct

Initially, the Second Editions lacked sufficient distinction from the original series. Consequently, starting with the second book, the dust jackets were swapped for new ones featuring photographs of Lakeland scenes by Derry Brabbs.

The Complete Pictorial Guides – A Reader’s Edition was introduced in 2009. This exclusive box set encompassed ten cloth-bound guides featuring enlarged type and drawings ten per cent larger than the originals. Modelled after the 50th Anniversary Editions, the set was priced at £159.99.

In 2011, Quarto acquired Frances Lincoln, a publisher specialising in children’s and horticultural literature, for £4.5 million. Managing Director John Nicoll retained control throughout the transitional phase and continued to contribute as a consultant.

From left to right:
The Eastern Fells (SE) original Jacket, F. Lincoln 2005
The Eastern Fells (SE) photo Jacket, F. Lincoln 2005
The Eastern Fells (SE) revised, F. Lincoln 2007
The Eastern Fells (RE) low gsm paper, F. Lincoln 2009
The Eastern Fells (RE) high gsm paper, F. Lincoln 2009

Nearly a decade into Chris Jesty’s revisions of the guides, it became apparent that some routes were outdated. Consequently, the responsibility was passed on to Clive Hutchby, a Keswick resident. Leveraging his extensive experience in the newspaper industry and a passion for walking, Clive took up the mantle from Chris. Sean McMahon was the photographer for the covers of these new editions.

While Chris Jesty took on the task of revising the guides alone, the latest revisions became a collaborative effort with route contributions from several individuals. Notably, for the first time in the guide’s history, Wainwright’s original handwritten text was replaced by a new ‘Lakeland’ font. The guides adopted a new flexibound format intended to reduce weight, although the difference is minimal compared to the hardbacks. The Eastern Fells – Walkers Edition was released in March 2015, initially priced at £12.99 and later increased to £14.99.

Over time, the 50th Anniversary Editions became outdated and were subsequently rebranded as Readers Editions. These new guides were released individually but in a non-sequential order, each priced at £14.99. In 2015, The Eastern Fells – Walkers Edition was published in a flexibound format. Eventually, both the Readers and Walkers Editions became printed as paperbacks.

From left to right:
The Eastern Fells (RE) hardback, F. Lincoln 2017
The Eastern Fells (RE) paperback, F. Lincoln 2022
The Eastern Fells (WE) flexibound, F. Lincoln 2015
The Eastern Fells (WE) paperback, F. Lincoln 2020

The Eastern Fells – Readers Edition hardback came in two variants
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