Mark Richards, author of the Fellranger series

Mark Richards, author of the Fellranger series

Next month will see a date a publisher says marks the handing over of Lakeland guidebook baton to a new generation.

Cicerone Press author Mark Richards has walked in the footsteps – literally and figuratively – of the late Alfred Wainwright, whose handwritten and illustrated Lakeland guides gained him a huge and undiminishing band of followers.

Mr Richards has now completed his Fellranger series of guidebooks, the final volume of which will be published in summer, and his Cumbrian publishers said the feat means he has become the greatest authority on fellwalking in a natural progression of generations.

A Cicerone spokesperson said: “40 years ago on 10th March, a young man called Mark Richards built a stone cairn on the summit of Hugh’s Laithes Pike above Haweswater, among the eastern fells of the Lake District.

“Mark was one of the very few people to have accompanied Alfred Wainwright on a fell walk, evidenced by a grainy photograph taken by him that day, which depicts Alfred and his wife Betty on the summit. The exact date is noted on page 228 of AW’s Pictorial Guide to the Outlying Fells.

“Recently Mark visited the same outlying fells as he completed the research for his final guidebook in the new Lakeland Fellranger series, and so the ‘baton’ of comprehensive guidebooks to England’s most beautiful mountain landscape is carried into a new generation.

“The Lakeland Fellranger series aims to inspire, rather than instruct – in Mark’s words: ‘To unleash the latent wandering spirit in each one of us’.”

Mark Richards's 1973 photo of Wainwright and his second wife Betty

Mark Richards's 1973 photo of Wainwright and his second wife Betty

The series comes in eight volumes, with each of the 230 fell chapters describing a plethora of walking routes of differing characters and difficulties which can be combined to make ascents, descents, traverses or ridge routes.

Two further anniversaries occur this month; it is 40 years since the publication of Mark Richards’ first guidebook, The Cotswold Way, and the publication on 10th March 1973 of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk, for which Mark Richards also accompanied AW during his original research.

Cicerone said: “Author, illustrator and broadcaster, Mark Richards is a passionate enthusiast of the Lake District, which he considers to be the finest of all walking landscapes.

The final volume in the Fellranger series is due out in summer

The final volume in the Fellranger series is due out in summer

“Over the years Mark has written numerous walking guidebooks, including guides to the nearby Unesco world heritage site of Hadrian’s Wall, and the bestselling Cicerone guide Great Mountain Days in the Lake District.”

The Milnthorpe-based company said the publication of Mr Richards’s guide The Far Eastern Fells on 15 June 2013 will mark the completion of the Lakeland Fellranger series.