50 Gems of Cumbria by Beth & Steve Pipe
I’m pretty sure that when I tell most people that Steve and I write books, they envisage us wafting around the countryside on lovely sunny days before returning to our mansion to scratch out a few words before dinner. Well, it’s not really like that – and this book was particularly not like that.
First of all we had to agree which 50 Gems we were going to include. Now, we both passionately love Cumbria and its many hidden away corners so this in itself was no mean feat. Lists were drawn up, argued over, re drawn up, researched, drawn up again and then finally agreed on. We know we’ll never keep everyone happy with the 50 we’ve chosen because we know there are so many others we could also have included – perhaps the next book could be “50 More Gems of Cumbria – the ones we couldn’t quite agree on”
We then set about the task of revisiting them all several times to get the right photos, researching and double checking all of our facts and deciding how best to organise them in the book. Some gems were easy to research whereas others were more problematic. Take the Bishop of Barf for example; I spent days sending dozens of emails and making lots of bizarre phone calls trying to establish who currently paints it. It’s a huge white rock half way up an inaccessible hillside which is resplendently white – someone, somewhere, knows who paints it but no-one is letting on. On the bright side my enquiries did enable me to prove Wikipedia wrong and that always makes me happy.
On top of all that research we were hampered with a run of bad luck on the health front – during the course of the year I had two bad falls resulting in two nights in hospital, two concussions (one of them severe), two broken bones, a two inch cut on my head and a few resulting problems with my short term memory. Not to be outdone Steve damaged his right knee and spent 6 months of the year on crutches. One of the finest sights to be seen in the county occurred on a crisp and frosty November morning – Steve headed up to Loughrigg Terrace on crutches while I slithered my way around the lake and into to the village with one arm still in a sling. (The result being the rather lovely photo to the right, which is at the top of page 48 in the book)
Hopefully we’ve included some of your favourites as well as inspired you to seek out corners you perhaps haven’t previously explored. For us the book represents 50 of our favourite places to visit and, as I flick through it, I remember all the fun and adventures we had putting it together. Writing books may not be as idyllic as many people imagine – but it is a lot of fun, and an absolute privilege to live in and explore this breathtaking county.
Beth & Steve Pipe's new book 50 Gems of Cumbria is available for purchase now.