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Alfred Wainwright, Patterdale and Place Fell

"When I try to visualise heaven, it is . . . a paradise modelled on Patterdale"


So said Alfred Wainwright, author of the definitive guidebooks to the fells of the Lake  District. He regarded Patterdale as the most attractive of all the Lakeland valleys, referring to its “exquisite beauty” and the village as “truly Alpine in situation, aspect and character . . . a splendid centre for fellwalkers”


Wainwright's Pictorial Guides have been in continuous publication since they were written about 50 years ago and have sold more than two million copies. There are 2 complete sets at Broad How: a posh new Folio Society set kept in the main sitting room, and a rather less pristine ‘rucksack’ collection on the shelves in the hallway for visitors to take out with them on their walks. Altogether, Wainwright’s 7 volumes cover 214 fells.


Broad How is nestled neatly between the Helvellyn and High Street ranges – the mountains that make up the first two volumes – the Eastern Fells (right out of the gate) and the Far Eastern Fells (left out of the gate). The lane running past the gate is actually part of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast route (from St Bees to Robin Hood Bay) which he devised in 1973.


Wainwright on Place Fell


Broad How was called Place Fell House up until the 1920s. And for some of us, no stay at Broad How feels properly complete unless we have touched Place Fell’s  trig point. But we’re not the only ones to appreciate our most local fell.  At the end of his Pictorial Guides,  AW made a final selection of his 12 finest mountains in the Lake District. Place Fell was  one of the 12. In Far Eastern Fells, Wainwright wrote of Place Fell . . .' It occupies an exceptionally good position in the curve of Ullswater, in the centre of a great bowl of hills; its summit commands a very beautiful and impressive panorama. On a first visit to Patterdale, Place Fell should be an early objective, for no other viewpoint gives such an appreciation of the design of this lovely corner of Lakeland.’

There are 50 ‘Wainwrights’ within a 5-mile radius of Broad How. For a printable list and map, click here.

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