Cicerone: 50 Years Of Adventure

Welcome to 2019 and let’s kick off by talking books. I’m sure I’m not alone in having a small section of my bookshelves that looks like this:


Sandwiched between some dictionaries and a satirical updated Enid Blyton take on the impending horror that is Brexit, a small collection of Cicerone guides. 1969 was an illustrious year (more of that in June, perhaps…) that produced many good things, one of which was the Cicerone Guides and 2019 – yes, the very year that started just a few hours ago – marks their 50th year.

The publisher was formed by two outdoors enthusiasts, Walt Unsworth and Brian Evans, and the first guide was dedicated to climbing in the northern Lake District. 50 years later, one guide has become 400 covering not just climbing but also hiking, cycling and, occasionally, skiing. Those exploring within the UK are well catered for, as are those heading out across the European continent and even to the more iconic corners of the other continents.


The first Cicerone Guides – more from the Cicerone timeline here


To celebrate their 50th birthday, Cicerone have published a rather wonderful book with contributions from many of the travellers who have written guides for the company. These include a few accounts of cycling adventures; Ian Boydon writing about ‘The Bowderdale Classic’ in the Dales, Chiz Dakin on the Tissington Trail and Mike Wells reminiscing about the Danube Cycleway. All the accounts, whether they be on or off a bike are superbly illustrated with some stunning photography. A coffee table book very worthy of the name.

“Commemorating Cicerone’s 50th year, Fifty Years of Adventure is a compilation of tales by Cicerone authors. A story to celebrate each year Cicerone has been publishing outdoor activity guidebooks, the collection is a delicious hotpot of adventures in their every shape and form. Soak up the sun, ice-cream in hand, with Aileen Evans on the Isle of Man coast path; discover the secret side of Snowdon with Rachel Crolla; cycle downhill for five weeks on the Danube Cycleway with Mike Wells; climb Kilimanjaro with Alex Stewart; and feel the sting of sub zero temperatures climbing K2 – the Savage Mountain – with Alan Hinkes.

“Also featured are ten tales of mishaps and misadventures that have befallen Cicerone authors while out and about, researching for a guidebook. Between stifling giggles and gasping out loud, gain greater insight into the mighty task that is guidebook writing. And in ‘The Cicerone Story’, learn about other aspects of guidebook creation, and discover how things have changed over the last fifty years.

“Accompanied by outstanding photography, each page of this finely crafted anniversary book is a veritable visual delight. As enchanting as it is inspiring, Fifty Years of Adventure is a must for anyone with an appreciation for adventure.”

It is rather wonderful and, as I browsed through the many very readable accounts of adventure over the festive period, I couldn’t help but keep thinking that this is perfect inspiration for another soon-to-be 50 year old institution to get off his backside and start planning new adventures. Watch this space…

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The book is available from the Cicerone website and for each sale, ยฃ1 will be donated to the Bedrigg Trust, a charity that supports people from disadvantages backgrounds in experiencing the outdoors.

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