With more than 20 million visitors each year, the Lake District retains its fascination for people from all over Britain and abroad. Ian Thompson, who grew up in nearby Barrow-in-Furness and went fell-walking from an early age, is well-equipped to reveal the area's allure. He tells how it was the chance combination of a fascination with the Alps and the outbreak of the Napoleonic wars that provided the spark for a national obsession. And in brief elegant chapters he shows how Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey and De Quincey transformed the perception of the region from one of 'horrid mountains' to 'vales of peace'. Later the work of J. M. W. Turner, John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome and Alfred Wainwright, the great populariser of fell-walking, all in their different ways contributed to making the region what it is today. Crammed with fascinating detail and illustrated with Thompson's own superb colour photography and more than 80 other colour illustrations, The English Lakes is sheer delight.