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Memoirs and Biography

A Dream Come True:

The Life and Times of a Lake District National Park Ranger


About this book:

  • ISBN: 095 407 1158 (paperback)

  • Published 2002

  • Price £8.00 + postage

  • 130 pages

  • Illustrated with colour and black and white photographs

About the Author:

Born in 1942 in the "auld grey town" of Kendal, David Birkett was educated locally and resurrected the family printing interests by becoming an apprentice compositor and machine minder with a local company.

His infatuation with mountains and landscape started when he was thirteen-years-old and joined a local rambling club and later the Kendal Mountain Rescue Team. He worked abroad in Switzerland and Austria as a mountain guide, returning to the Lake District as one of the first National Park rangers.

The author has wide interests, including singing, photography and rock climbing plus he is devoted to his wife Valerie and their three children. Birkett retired in 1999 to offer more time in a voluntary capacity to Kendal Town Council and the Friends of the Lake District and to follow his interest in the hills and spend more time with his family. amily printing interests by becoming an apprentice compositor and machine minder with a local company.


A Dream Come True is a personal story of a man inspired by the great outdoors. The book's significance is enhanced by the background to David Birkett's story which is the early years and development of the Lake District National Park Authority.

Birkett is committed to his vision to protect the landscape of Cumbria and help its people - this commitment continues in his service to Kendal Town Council and the Friends of the Lake District. Sir Chris Bonington CBE

'Rolling stone' who has lived his Lakeland dream....

What's this? A former mayor of Kendal "screaming and dancing" in the aisles at the local pcitures? But wait a minute, it's the 1960s - the decade when Kendal, like most other places in the country, fell victim to 'Beatlemania.' The latest Beatles film was showing at the Palladium in Sandes Avenue and a young David Birkett was doing what teenagers did. "Oh happy days!" recalls Kendal's recent mayor.

His book is an entertaining and informative mixture of autobiography and an account of his work as a National Park Ranger - following the development of the National Park and documenting the frustrations as well as the many enjoyments and satisfactions.

The catalyst that blends the personal story with the official role is the writer's personal philosophy. The youngest of three brothers, born into a Kendal family during war time, the young David grew up in a household of eight - the extended family being refugees from the bombing over in Newcastle.

A strong and affectionate family background (a mother, "the driving force in my family," a nurse at Westmorland County Hospital), instilled an early sense of community spirit. But there was also a wider network of extended family, friends and neighbours which will refresh many a Kendalian memory.

The young David's grandparents on his father's side had once owned a family printing firm (now the Westmorland Gazette) and as a young man there was an important decision to be made: to take up a job as a jobbing printer at the Gazette, or to follow his instinct and the lure of the fells and mountains as a guide/leader in this country and abroad?

The mountains, and what the author refers to as his "rolling stone mentality", won through eventually and David Birkett became a full-time National Park warden in the Lake District at the age of 26.

The book's unusual mix of local history and personal anecdote, plus the insight into the working life and times of a National Park warden, make this an absorbing read. If you're local there will be much to smile and reminisce over but The Life and Times of a Lake District National Park Ranger is also a book for anyone who loves this area. Westmorland Gazette, October 2002





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