Book review: Lakeland Rocks, by Alan Smith

Jon Trevelyan (UK)

There are many good guides the geology of the Lake District and this is no exception. However, this is first and foremost an illustrated guide to the region’s rocks and an introduction to the common rock types to be found, largely through the use of colour photographs. It also explains how they fit in with the Lake District’s geological history.

As he explains, the characteristic landscape of the Lake District is influenced by its geology and the vast array of different rocks that can be seen there, which determine the shape and appearance of the fells and dales that are so appreciated by tourists, geologists and those living there. In addition, one only need go to, say, Keswick, to see how its green slate buildings show how the available rocks influence the look of the architecture. And a visit to the ruins of Old Man of Coniston or the mines of the Honister Pass will show the effect that hundreds of years of quarrying has had on the region (not necessarily for the better).

Therefore, it is less the geology of the region that is the subject of this book. Rather, it is rocks themselves, with nearly 200 colour illustrations, including full colour diagrams, maps and photographs. The intention is to explain the main types of rock (60 of which are covered) and their characteristics, where they can be found and how to recognise them in the landscape. Additionally, there are details of the rocks used in local buildings, and what rocks are still being quarried and how important they still are to the local economy.

Therefore, if you want a simple, colourful and well written guide to the Lake District, this is a very good start.

The author graduated from the University of Manchester and, with a research degree on the Lake District, he has held posts at the Universities of Bristol and Durham. He later moved to lecture at what is now the University of Chester, becoming Acting Principal. He has written over 40 papers, books and guides to the Lake District and is also a past-President of the Cumberland Geological Society.

Lakeland Rocks by Alan Smith, The Crowood Press Ltd (2019), Marlborough, Wiltshire. 160 pages, Softback, ISBN: 978-78500-95-7

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