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North Country Guides

Escape to the Lakes : The First Tourists


About this book:

  • ISBN: 978 191 023 7120

  • Published 2015

  • Price £10.00 + postage

  • 172 pages
  • Illustrated with 92 photographs, including 8 colour images.


Also by Robert Gambles

Man in Lakeland (1975)
Exploring the Lakeland Fringe (1989)
The Spa Resorts and Mineral Springs of Cumbria (1993)
Walks on the Borders of Lakeland (1995)*
Yorkshire Dales Place-Names (1995)
Walks Round Windermere (1997)
Echoes of Old Lakeland (2010)

Reflections from the Lakes (2019)
Lake District Place-Names (2013)
The Lakeland Dales (2016)*
Words from the Wildwood: Cumbria’s Ancient Place-Names (2017)

Translated and Edited
Espen Ash Lad: Folk Tales from Norway (2014)

* Lakeland Book of the Year Award winners



About this book:

THE first edition of this book was a Lakeland Book of the Year Award winner in 2012. This new edition includes additional colour
illustrations by celebrated Cumbrian photographer Val Corbett.

IN 1800 Coleridge complained that the Lakes were ‘alive and swarming with tourists’. A summer ‘tour to the Lakes’ had become
a fashionable adventure among the upper classes anxious to escape the suffocating towns.
In this entertaining book Robert Gambles portrays what it was really like to be a tourist in those days. Visitors were warned that the country was ‘wild, barren and frightful’, but guide books took them to picturesque beauty spots, ancient stone circles, spa resorts and the first tourist attractions.
The Victorian lady sketched, studied botany, walked to distant waterfalls and climbed the highest fells. Ruskin did not want the ‘ill-educated masses … to see Helvellyn while they are drunk’. Until then the genteel tourists could record in their journals how they had consumed buttered sops, thrilled to the echoes of gunfire, found fleas in their beds, enjoyed a hearty picnic on the summit of Fairfield, and viewed the mountain landscape through the picture-frame of a Claude glass.

Cover photograph – Friar’s Crag, Derwentwater, by Val Corbett

The Author:
ROBERT Gambles was born and grew up in Derbyshire. He was a scholar of St John’s College, Oxford, where he took an Honours degree in Modern History and a post-graduate Diploma in Education.
He also has a Licentiate Diploma in Music. His professional career was spent in Education, mainly in Ely and Liverpool. He acquired a love of the Lake District early in life and he has lived in Cumbria in his years of retirement during which he has explored the whole district and written a number of books and many articles on various aspects of its history. These have included Man in Lakeland: 4,000 Years of Human Settlement; Out of the Forest: The Natural World and the Placenames of Cumbria; Walks around Windermere; The Place-names of the Yorkshire Dales; The Spa Resorts and Mineral Springs of Cumbria; Walks on the Borders of Lakeland; The Story of the Lakeland Dales and Echoes of Old Lakeland. Escape to the Lakes: The First Tourists won an award at the 2012 Lake District Book of the Year event.
The author has also pursued his interest in a wider national history and a critical study of some of the well-known stories from British history was published in 2013 under the title Great Tales from British History, and was decribed by The Guardian as ‘hugely enjoyable’. Through his Norwegian wife he acquired a special interest in the life and history of Norway.
A keen but pragmatic interest in conservation and the protection of the natural environment has always featured in his philosophy of life and he was for many years a Trustee and member of the Executive Committee of the Friends of the Lake District. He has also worked as a volunteer for the National Trust.


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