n Rocks and Rain, Reason and Romance: The Landscape, History and People of the Lake District by David Howe (Saraband, £9.99)

David Howe began his Lakeland journey more than 50 years ago when he was a 17-year-old lad in Manchester. A friend had just passed his driving test and borrowed his father’s Humber Super Snipe. They sped up to the Lakes – doing a ton in places just for the fun of it. This was (in the days before the M6 was built).

They found themselves at the foot of Helvellyn in their donkey jackets and their everyday shoes and up they went with no map and no compass. But they did have enthusiasm and, despite the rain, that exhilarating climb gave birth, in David’s case at least, to a passion that has lasted a lifetime.

This affectionately-written book is his testimony, his note of thanks, to the Lake District he has come to know intimately over the years.

From Helvellyn on that day in 1964 they gazed down on Thirlmere. It was a physical connection to the city where he had grown up. The water makes the 80-mile journey to Manchester where it provides 10 per cent of the city’s water supply. That journey to Manchester was also made, 200 years ago, by a man fascinated by water, by clouds and rain, by meteorology. He was John Dalton, from Eaglesfield, near Cockermouth. His observations on rain led to the work that eventually became his theory of the atom and laid the foundations of modern physics and chemistry. Two of his friends, Jonathan Otley, the watchmaker from Keswick, and Adam Sedgwick, the man from Dent who became Professor of Geology at Cambridge, did much to explore and explain the origins and formation of the very particular Cumbrian landscape.

David takes us on a whirlwind tour of the area’s orogenesis (the structural deformation of rocks), of the formation of the mountains, of the ancient seas, of the great earth movements and the volcanoes and the processes of erosion that have led to the landscape we know. He also takes us on a journey through history from the first signs of man’s activities in the stone-axe factories in Langdale and the stone circle at Castlerigg, through the coming of the Romans, the Saxons, the Vikings and the Normans to the Lakes of today.

He shows how our understanding of them has been fashioned by the great Romantic writers , by Wordsworth and Coleridge, and by the first tourists, by Thomas Gray and William Gilpin, and the guide book writers, men like Father Thomas West, who directed the footsteps of the visitors. He is particularly admiring of Harriet Martineau, the indefatigable journalist, novelist, socialist and campaigner who lived in Ambleside and wrote the most influential of all the guidebooks.

And David is admiring of Alfred Wainwright – who felt that the cardinal rule of mountain walking was “to watch where you put your feet”, of Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransom and John Ruskin and those many and varied people who loved the Lakes and have led us to understand them better. As Wainwright said of his own book, David might say of his: “This book is one man’s way of expressing his devotion to Lakeland’s friendly hills.”

Rocks and Rain is a journey, a ramble through the Lake District that David has known for all his adult life. He sees himself sitting on a rock by Lily Tarn as the sun sets on an icy, winter evening.

“The sky is a pale sapphire. The sun is slipping behind distant Wetherlam, adding a soft pink ad orange glow to the thin winter blue.”

A small silver birch, which had long stood on the island in the tarn “lies toppled, its slim sodden trunk and branches gradually being lost to the cold mountain waters”.

It is an elegiac note, a reflection on the transience of life and beauty, and a fitting ending for David’s lifetime love of the Lakes.