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Our latest book, THE LANGUAGE OF THE LANDSCAPE – A Journey into Lake District History, has had an enormous effect on the way I look at the landscape in Dentdale, where I have lived for just over twelve years.  I will always be an ‘off-comer’,  but during that time I have accumulated enough local knowledge to give me a  sense of belonging.  Once I learnt the names of some of the local farming families, the cycle of the farming year and discovered which was the ‘money’ side of the dale as opposed to the ‘money’ side, I  found I could begin to speak the language of the place.

Learning the language of the landscape helps to appreciate and understand some of  the history, folklore and traditions of Dentdale.   I now feel able to hold my own in a discussion about the likelihood of the dale being flooded, because I know where the ‘Hippings’ is –  the place on the road between here and Sedbergh where, if the River Dee bursts its banks, the road will quickly become impassable.  I have walked the Occupation Road,  climbed the hills that surround our house and seen the views from Aye Gill Pike and Great Coum.  I know where Tommy Bridge, Ibbith Peril and the Garlic Path are and have touched the County Stone.  I know some of the myths and legends that still arouse controversy – did they keep slaves at Whernside Manor for example and is there an underground tunnel connecting the house to the village?  As I gradually learn place names, key  features in the landscape, local folklore and the names of farming families who go back centuries, my attachment to Dentdale grows. This is  what Angus Winchester’s wonderful book, THE LANGUAGE OF THE LANDSCAPE, is all about.

Here are some extracts from recent reviews.

From the journal LANDSCAPES, Published by Routledge.  On line, 17 March 2020

….This is a book fully aware of the plurality and multiple meanings of landscape, a book about the idea of landscape not only a book about a landscape.

Most of all, this book shows us how to listen to the land, hence the book’s title. It is now a well-understood maxim that landscapes can be read; this book also hears landscape, listening to it as it speaks to us, through natural sounds of water and wind and even more through human sounds such as (at least to a knowledgeable ear such as the author’s) local farming (and mining) dialect, field names, the even older river names, and more recently through the names attached to ‘climbs’ and walks in the past century or two.

Graham Fairclough


From the Cumberland and Westmorland Antequarian and Archeological Society,  Spring Newsletter. 2020

…..This deeply enjoyable book is part memoir, part local history. Although it concentrates on one Lakeland valley, its themes are universal. What effect can a landscape have on our lives and imagination? How do the names given to features of that landscape add to our understanding and appreciation of the history of our environment and contribute to our sense of place? The reader learns much through specific local detail about the wider history of the Lake District.

Bronwen Riley


From Cumberland News. November 2019

… But this book, deeply informed as it is, is not an academic account of the history and landscape of that loveliest of valleys, that valley which includes Loweswater, Crummock Water and Buttermere. It is a personal journey through history in which Angus’s very special feeling for the landscape leads the reader to a wider appreciation of all Lakeland landscapes

Steve Matthews


From Wanderer. The Journal of the Lorton and Derwent Fells Local History Group.

February 2020

….This is a book that everyone in the valleys should have on their shelves. Surely one wants to know the origin of field names, how boundaries have been fixed, what water does to us and what water has been, the numbers of sheep, the industries, the use of bracken.  It is here, the indispensable guide and settler of fireside arguments.

Michael Baron

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Lots of Helen Shacklady’s friends and supporters came to join in celebrating the launch of her book ULVERSTON – An English Market Town Through History at the Coronation Hall, last night. In true Ulverston style there was poetry, music, a quiz designed by quizmaster extraordinaire Tim Melville, and a fantastic cake made by Jo Stoney for us all to share.

But centre-stage was Helen. She gave us a wonderful talk about what she had discovered in researching and writing about Ulverston.  The main message was that Ulverston has never been the isolated place we tend to think.  From way back to Neolithic times the means of communication have existed to allow movement of people and trade in an out of the Furness peninsula. Ulverston has been, and continues to be, a centre of industry, commerce and culture with a lively attitude to the upheavals to which it has been subjected throughout history.

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New History of Ulverston coming in March.

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This time last year I wrote that a new history of Ulverston would be published by Handstand Press in 2015. We are a couple of months late! I’m pleased to announce, finally, that ULVERSTON, An English Market Town Through History, by Helen Shacklady, will be in the bookshops on March 4th price £14.99.

Tackling the history of any town is a challenge to any author. Where to begin?  Where to end?  What to put in or leave out? Helen has cleverly decided to approach the history of Ulverston in the context of English history so that we see the town not just in isolation but understand its connection with wider events. Her knowledge of history is evident throughout as well as her thorough research.  But what makes the book particularly interesting are Helen’s own observations coupled with an unwillingness to be seduced by popular historical theories.

You can meet Helen Shacklady any time and purchase the book from her at the Bookshack bookstall in Ulverston Indoor Market, during shop opening hours in Ulverston (shops are closed on Wednesdays). It will also be available at Suttons Bookshop, 48 Market Street and can be ordered from any good bookshop.

Book details:

ISBN: 978-0-9576609-4-6.

206 Pages. 50 illustrations in full colour.  70 illustrations black and white.

Dimensions: 170x205mm

You can order a book from us here

I hope you will find ULVERSTON, An English Market Town Through History, informative and a really good read.