My eyes usually go glazed when in a travel book, whether to Lakeland or the West Indies, I see a section marked 'Geology'. I move on, fairly quickly. It's my fault, having such a blind spot about such an important subject, but I just don't seem to be able to take in all the long, funny words and the even longer, funnier sounding dates.
Wordsworth had much the same problem, so I suspect, when writing his Guide to the Lakes in the 1820's. To help him out, as he felt some geological background should be included, he got some advice and information from Adam Sedgwick, born in Dent and the father of modern geology.
In my own Good Guide to the Lakes, I limited geology to just one page, and got a friend from Grasmere, a retired head mistress, to help me with the long words.
If only I had had the assistance of David Grech, I'm sure I would have done a lot better and understood a lot more - for he is clearly one of the few people I have come across who is able to translate and reveal the connections between the geological past and the modern landscape. If we are what we eat, in theory anyway, so we live in our own landscape - the houses that we built reflected the rocks beneath, the woods around, the weather, the topography, the local industries. Given a moment's thought, we all know that - but we can rarely see it, find it hard to take it in, need help to understand it.
David Grech has had the happy idea of wandering through England, from roughly South to North, observing the houses and buildings and explaining how they came to be the way they are. He starts on the South Downs, noting the flint cottages with clay tiles, then the brick and timber houses as he moves towards the Midlands, turning to stone with slate roofs as he reaches the higher land of the North.
He is his own artist, hence he has captured his journey in words and water colours. And he's his own publisher. I do like that. People who have a passion for a topic, not just a talent, plus energy and enterprise enough to publish a book the way they want it to look and to read.
On the way, he passed through Dent, and has described and drawn the Sedgwick Memorial. A nice touch, in every sense.
I would have liked to have walked with him, for I would have learned and understood a lot. But this book is the next best thing.
Hunter Davies, Loweswater, April 1999