The Southern Fells was published in April 1960 and was dedicated to:
“The hardiest of all fellwalkers THE SHEEP OF LAKELAND the truest lovers of the mountains, their natural homes and providers of their food and shelter”
Even before its release, book Four was expected to be Wainwright’s biggest-selling Lakeland guide. Not surprisingly, this area features many of Lakeland’s well-loved giants, such as Bowfell, Coniston Old Man, Glaramara, Rossett Pike (and Gill), Dow Crag, and Wetherlam, and not forgetting Scafell and its Pike. In his latest guide, Wainwright’s Fell knowledge and sense of humour are as strong as ever. He describes this region as “a bit of heaven fallen upon the earth”.
Up to this point, The Eastern Fells was Wainwright’s best-selling book and would dominate for decades, with The Central Fells not far behind. However, this was about to change with the latest publication, which outsold all the other six Lakeland Pictorial Guides.
A First Edition is identified by:
- Orange case with round corners and blue blocking
- 12/6 price on the dust jacket
- No impression number
- Book Five listed as – in preparation
As with all the other guides, the cases would drastically change throughout the 1970s. The limited availability of case colours meant the end of the original orange case colour.
In the late 1980s, A Coast to Coast Walk guide would dominate guidebook sales for the Westmorland Gazette due to the popularity of the BBC’s Coast to Coast Walk TV series. Overall, The Southern Fells sold the most. It is an unfair comparison as it had the advantage of being published thirteen years before A Coast to Coast Walk.
By 1965, the guide price had increased to 15/-, and the subsequent price hike would be 18/- before decimalisation in 1971. The early dust jackets were almost brown. It wasn’t until the early 1970s that the dust jacket would take on a more orange colour to match the book.
Wainwright approved several upcoming cost-saving changes. The gold blocking was removed from the front of the cases in 1980. Shortly after the guide’s hundredth impression barrier was breached in 1985, the impression numbers were discontinued.
Wainwright had written lists of numbers ahead of time for future impressions. When The Southern Fells hit the one-hundred and fifteenth impression, the Gazette didn’t have an old guide to scan the word ‘fifteenth’. Unfortunately, Wainwright’s eyesight worsened, so he couldn’t write the numbers neatly enough to match the old ones. Printers type was used for the final three impressions and didn’t appear to have been used on any other Pictorial Guides.
By 1991, the publishing rights were transferred to Michael Joseph, ready for the new guidebook launch in April 1992. All subsequent impressions were printed at Clays Ltd in Bungay. Over time, the print quality deteriorated, so the books needed to be returned to their original brilliance.
At the dawn of the new millennium, guidebook sales were in decline. The outbreak of the foot-and-mouth disease in 2001 affected agriculture and tourism in the UK and was a factor in the lack of sales. Frances Lincoln took over the publishing rights in 2003 and brought the guides back home to Kendal.
The new launch in April 2003 was a success, and Titus Wilson could barely keep up with the printing. After being stored for twelve years, the original Gazette negatives were dusted down and reused. The print quality was back on par with the original guides. All seven directions received two impressions. However, The Central Fells and The Southern Fells received a third impression. These regions were the most popular out of all seven in the Lake District.
Luckily, the old Michael Joseph dust jacket negatives from 1992 had been retained by Titus Wilson. These were recycled and used for the Frances Lincoln guides published in 2003.
In 2005, Frances Lincoln marked the 50th anniversary of The Eastern Fells by publishing new guides. It included a Limited Edition Leather-Bound box set. The gold blocking would also return for the first time in twenty-five years.
From left to right:
The Southern Fells – 50th Anniversary Edition, Frances Lincoln 2005
The Southern Fells – 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Leather-Bound, Frances Lincoln 2005
In June 2023, the 50th Anniversary Editions were made available as paperbacks for the first time. They are only available as a box set. See the Wainwright Box Set Collection for details.
Chris Jesty was only a few years away from completing his revisions for all seven Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. The Southern Fells – Second Edition was published in 2007. Frances Lincoln published a cloth-bound ten-guide box set based on the 50th Anniversary Editions in 2009. Quarto bought Frances Lincoln two years later.
From left to right:
The Southern Fells – Second Edition, Frances Lincoln 2007
The Southern Fells – Second Edition revised, Frances Lincoln 2007
The Southern Fells – 50th Anniversary Edition ’enlarged type’ (low gsm paper), Frances Lincoln 2009
The Southern Fells – 50th Anniversary Edition ’enlarged type’ (high gsm paper), Frances Lincoln 2009
After ten years, some of the Second Editions were out of date and in 2014, Clive Hutchby succeeded Chris Jesty and began revising the guides from scratch. The Southern Fells – Walkers Edition was published as a flexibound guide in 2017. Eventually, both Readers and Walkers Editions were printed as paperbacks.
From left to right:
The Southern Fells – Readers Edition hardback, Frances Lincoln 2017
The Southern Fells – Readers Edition paperback, Frances Lincoln 2021
The Southern Fells – Walkers Edition flexibound, Frances Lincoln 2017
The Southern Fells – Walkers Edition paperback, Frances Lincoln 2020
The video below features a compilation of Wainwright’s best-selling guidebook’s printing materials from multiple publishers for this title.Back to top of page