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This photographic essay, the fourth Lake District volume in Bill Birkett's prize-winning and widely praised valley portraits, captures all the facets of the delightful Buttermere Valley throughout the seasons, from the ever-changing mood of its lakes and tarns to its inspirational high fells. The pure influences of lake and mountain are dominant, and the changing combinations of light magnify form and scale here as nowhere else.
The narrow valley of Buttermere, the 'secret valley', lies squeezed deep in the mountains towards the north-west fringes of Cumbria. With its lakes - Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater - and high surround of peaks it is rightly regarded as one of the most awe-inspiring and dramatic of the Lakeland dales. Steeped in myth and legend, protected by the high mountain passes of Honister, Newlands Hause and Whinlatter, it remains an intriguing oasis of quiet and calm. Its many fine waterfalls include Scale Force, which has the longest vertical drop in the region; there is wonderful walking over the tops and by the lake shore, and an array of magnificent crags invites climbers to seek their thrills and challenges.
Mary Robinson, the 'Maid of Buttermere' and reputedly the beauty of the late eighteenth century, may be long gone, but there is more than enough natural beauty on which to feast the eye. Of all the Lakeland places he knew so well, Buttermere was especially dear to the great fell-walker Alfred Wainwright: his ashes are scattered there, beside the shore of Innominate Tarn high on the rugged top of Haystacks, and he is commemorated in a plaque in the blood-red granite church of St James above Buttermere village.