It was one of those moments of Cumbrian serendipity...
Mark Richards and myself were in Threlkeld's fab community coffee shop at the tail end of last year working on pages of The Ullswater Way Official Guide when a man came up to us with a large folder of A3 maps and illustrations and asked if we knew of a publisher who might be interested in taking on his book.
An hour later we were still poring over his portfolio, every page a work of art.
This, then, was my introduction to Barry Holmes, who, at the age of 60 took up fell running. His mission – sometimes painful, often wet, occasionally meandering, but always entertaining – took him to all 214 Wainwright summits as he battled bracken, blizzards and blisters; injuries, white-outs, and weary limbs to discover the best and worst of Lakeland.
I can't pretend the journey from that chance Threlkeld meeting to publication was easy. First of all we needed to find someone to scan his original A3 drawings. Step forward H&H Reeds of Penrith, who did a fine job of retaining the detail in Barry's remarkable artwork. Next up the diary text needed editing. Normally that's an easy enough job. But this wasn't a normal book: Barry had typeset every single word by hand, Wainwright-style, not used a word processor, so any textual edits required moving tiny graphics around pages. Even moving a misplaced comma could take ten minutes. Multiply that by hundreds of paragraphs across 144 pages...
Anyway, we got there in the end, printing hard-backed at oversized A4 to create a worthy vehicle for artwork that I think even Wainwright might begrudgingly have admired. Hopefully the result is a book that'll find a happy home on coffee tables among those who love Lakeland, the fells... and great art.
You can buy Over the Hill at 60 Something? in our Shop. RRP £14.90.