Hosted by TGO editor Cameron McNeish, "Great Walks 5" in Striding Edge's Lake District series covers "The Wasdale Round" in the western part of Cumbria. McNeish hikes this 24-mile walk in three days: the first day includes Buckbarrow, Pillar, and the Piers Gill route; the second includes Scafell Pike and Scafell (the former being the highest mountain in England--3209 feet); the third includes Illgill Head, Whin Rigg (also known, from the Wasdale side, as the Screes), and Irton Pike. Like the other DVDs in this series, this one offers spectacular views of mountain peaks, green valleys, waterfalls, and miles-long stone walls. On each day, McNeish--who has "crept over the border from my highland lair"--is joined by a knowledgeable traveling companion.
On the first day, he walks with Ken Ledward, a wiry old gent out on the fells five days a week testing mountaineering equipment (and who was at one time an opera singer who decided he didn't want to stay indoors; McNeish coaxes a line or two of bel canto from him). On the next day, McNeish meets up with legendary fell runner Joss Naylor--subject of a couple of other Striding Edge DVDs--who at age 60 ran the 60 highest peaks in Lakeland in 36 hours. Naylor was near 70 when this video was made and planning his next major run. He tells McNeish the story of the botanist who fell into the narrow Piers Gill and was trapped for 19 days before being rescued. On the final day, McNeish is joined by broadcaster Heather Lacombe; as the two walk along the old coffin road, Lacombe relates the century-old tale of the coffin-carrying horse who got spooked, bolted with its load, and was never seen again. (In "Remote Lakeland" Eric Robson tells the same story, but caps it with a sound clip of a whinnying horse.)
"The Wasdale Round" is a fine addition to the Great Walks series, masterfully photographed as usual by Januscz Ostrowski.
Larry B | Ventura, California | October 2018