Rory takes top spot in book awards

Date: Tuesday 11th July 2017

THE winners of the 2017 Lakeland Book of the Year awards have been revealed at a special literary lunch held at Armathwaite Hall, Bassenthwaite Lake, today, with Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart taking top spot with his book, The Marches.

A total of 68 books — all published in the last year and predominately about Cumbria — were entered.

The three judges who spent the spring months pouring over them were author, columnist and founder of the awards Hunter Davies; broadcaster, writer and chairman of Cumbria Tourism Eric Robson; BBC News broadcaster and author Fiona Armstrong.

After awarding the title Lakeland Book of the Year 2017 to The Marches, Hunter Davies, said: “I thought at first Rory's book was about the French political party, but blow me it is all about our native heath, plus his dad, and is one of the most original books we have had in 33 years of the prize”.

It chronicles a 30 day, 600-mile journey on foot that Rory took along the frontier dividing England and Scotland, known as The Marches. His father, a 90-year-old former British colonial official and intelligence officer, regularly ambushes him by car as he goes and together they reflect on their lives and the landscapes they have encountered.

Other category prize winners were: The Striding Edge Productions Prize for guides and places — The Lakeland Dales, by Robert Gamble; The Latitude Press Prize for illustration and presentation — Nowt but a Fleein’ Thing, by Al Phizacklea and Mike Cocker; The Zeffirellis Prize for people and business, Donald Campbell, An Odyssey in Speed, by David de Lara; The Bookends Prize for arts and literature, How to Measure a Cow, by Margaret Forster; The Bill Rollinson Prize for landscape and tradition,

The Marches, by Rory Stewart.

Despite being one of Cumbria’s foremost and acclaimed writers, Margaret Forster has never had a book entered into these awards because of her close relationship to Hunter. On this occasion, How to Measure a Cow was entered by her publishers.

Hunter did not take part in judging it, leaving his fellow judges to decide that category winner. Fiona Armstrong described it as: “Another triumph from Margaret Forster. She makes the simple intriguing and the ordinary extraordinary”.

Of Marie-Elsa Bragg’s Towards Mellbreak, runner-up in the arts and literature category, Fiona said it was “A fascinating account of life on the Cumbrian fells. A quiet yet powerful book”.