Cumbria’s rich and varied heritage has been celebrated at the 35th Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year Awards, with the announcement of Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park’s The Corpse Roads of Cumbria as the 2019 winner. The award – one of the most prestigious of its kind outside London – was presented today (Tuesday 16th July 2019) by the judges at a charity luncheon at Kendal’s Castle Green Hotel.


Alan and Lesley, who also received the Latitude Press Prize for Illustration and Presentation at the event, bring to life a fascinating part of the county’s history. Corpse roads, the paths trodden by those transporting the dead across the countryside to their place of burial, still leave their mark upon the landscape today but Alan’s book brings them, and the stories they tell vividly to life.

Chosen from almost 60 entries, all set in or featuring Cumbria and published in the last year, Alan and Lesley’s book was celebrated alongside five other category winners at the luncheon, this year supporting local mental health charity Growing Well.

The judges, author and columnist Hunter Davies OBE, renowned broadcaster and Cumbria Tourism President Eric Robson and BBC newscaster, presenter and author Fiona Armstrong, entertained almost 150 guests with their thoughts on the finalists before announcing the winners.

Following the announcement, Alan Cleaver said, “It’s absolutely fantastic to win such an esteemed prize, especially given the high calibre of the competition. It’s been an amazing celebration here today and winning really is the icing on the cake.”

Lesley Park added “We’d like to thank all of the judges and sponsors who help make these awards happen every year, there’s such a variety of topics showcased here and it’s truly fantastic to see them all recognised by a prestigious and long-running event – we can’t believe we won!”

Gill Haigh, Cumbria Tourism MD, commented: “Cumbria Tourism is delighted to be a long-term supporter of the Lakeland Book of the Year Awards, which every year showcase the full range and quality of writing inspired by our fantastic county. I am always impressed by the talent and dedication of all those who enter, and I never fail to learn something new! Alan’s book is a worthy winner and I can’t wait to take my family on some new adventures exploring Cumbria’s corpse roads and discovering more about their unique and fascinating history.”


The Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year 2019

The Corpse Roads of Cumbria by Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park


Category Winners

The Bookends Prize for Literature and Poetry

This Place I Know: An Anthology of Cumbrian Poetry edited by Kerry Darbishire, Kim Moore and Liz Nutall


The Latitude Press Prize for Illustration and Presentation

The Corpse Roads of Cumbria by Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park


The Zeffirellis Prize for People and Business

Bruffam: Henry, First Lord Brougham & Vaux 1778-1868 by David Crackenthorpe and Gin, Cake and Rucksacks by Beth Pipe and Karen Guttridge


The Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscape and Tradition

The Debatable Land: The Lost World Between Scotland and England by Graham Robb


The Gilpin Hotel and Lake House Prize for Fiction

Morph by Dr Jill Clough


The Striding Edge Prize for Guides and Places

The Little Book of Cumbria by David Ramshaw


Cumbria Tourism provides administration and PR support to the Lakeland Book of the Year, which is organised by a team of external organisers and judges.


The much-appreciated partnership with James Cropper plc, based in Kendal, continued for this year’s awards. The association is particularly appropriate, as virtually all hard-backed books published in the UK are bound using paper produced by James Cropper here in Cumbria. In addition to financial assistance, James Cropper provided professional advice and, of course, all printed material required for the event was produced on their paper.

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