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Alfred Wainwright

Alfred Wainwright

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Alfred Wainwright MBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (17 January 1907 – 20 January 1991) was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 fellwalker, guidebook author and illustrator. His seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells
Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells
A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells is a series of seven books by A. Wainwright, detailing the fells of the Lake District in northwest England...

, published between 1955 and 1966 and consisting entirely of reproductions of his manuscript, has become the standard reference work to 214 of the fell
Fell
“Fell” is a word used to refer to mountains, or certain types of mountainous landscape, in Scandinavia, the Isle of Man, and parts of northern England.- Etymology :...

s of the English Lake District
Lake District
The Lake District, also commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland, is a mountainous region in North West England. A popular holiday destination, it is famous not only for its lakes and its mountains but also for its associations with the early 19th century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth...

. Among his 40-odd other books is the first guide to the Coast to Coast Walk
Coast to Coast Walk
The Coast to Coast Walk is a 192-mile unofficial and mostly unsignposted long distance footpath in Northern England...

, a 192-mile long-distance footpath devised by Wainwright which remains popular today.

Life


Alfred Wainwright was born in Blackburn, Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

 to Thomas Wainwright and Elizabeth Nixon. His family was relatively poor, mostly because of his stonemason father's alcoholism. He did very well at school (first in nearly every subject) although he left at the age of 13. While most of his classmates were obliged to find employment in the local mills, Wainwright started work as an office boy in Blackburn Borough Engineer's Department. He spent several further years studying at night school, gaining qualifications in accountancy which enabled him to further his career at Blackburn Borough Council. Even when a child Wainwright walked a great deal, up to 20 miles at a time; he also showed a great interest in drawing and cartography
Cartography
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

, producing his own maps of England and his local area.

In 1930, at the age of 23, Wainwright saved up enough money for a week's walking holiday in the Lake District
Lake District
The Lake District, also commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland, is a mountainous region in North West England. A popular holiday destination, it is famous not only for its lakes and its mountains but also for its associations with the early 19th century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth...

 with his cousin Eric Beardsall. They arrived in Windermere
Windermere (town)
Windermere is a town and civil parish in the South Lakeland District of Cumbria, England. It has a population of 8,245. It lies about half a mile away from the lake, Windermere...

 and climbed the nearby hill Orrest Head
Orrest Head
Orrest Head is a fell in the English Lake District on the eastern shores of Windermere. It is one of Wainwright's The Outlying Fells of Lakeland - and the first fell he climbed...

, where Wainwright saw his first view of the Lakeland fell
Fell
“Fell” is a word used to refer to mountains, or certain types of mountainous landscape, in Scandinavia, the Isle of Man, and parts of northern England.- Etymology :...

s. This moment marked the start of what he would later describe as his love affair with the Lake District. In 1931 he married his first wife, Ruth Holden, a local mill worker, with whom he had a son Peter. In 1941 Wainwright was able to move closer to the fells when he took a job (and with it a pay cut) at the Borough Treasurer's office in Kendal
Kendal
Kendal, anciently known as Kirkby in Kendal or Kirkby Kendal, is a market town and civil parish within the South Lakeland District of Cumbria, England...

, Westmorland
Westmorland
Westmorland is an area of North West England and one of the 39 historic counties of England. It formed an administrative county from 1889 to 1974, after which the entirety of the county was absorbed into the new county of Cumbria.-Early history:...

. He lived and worked in the town for the rest of his life, serving as Borough Treasurer from 1948 until he retired in 1967. His first marriage ended when Ruth walked out three weeks before he retired. They later divorced. In 1970 he married Betty McNally (1922–2008), also a divorcee, who became his walking companion and who eventually carried his ashes to Innominate Tarn
Innominate Tarn
Innominate Tarn is a small tarn in the northern Lake District National Park in England. It is situated at 520 metres above sea level, near the summit of Haystacks....

 at the top of Haystacks.

Wainwright was a life-long Blackburn Rovers fan and indeed a founder member of the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Club.

Pictorial Guides



Wainwright started work on the first page of his Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells
Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells
A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells is a series of seven books by A. Wainwright, detailing the fells of the Lake District in northwest England...

 on 9 November 1952. He planned the precise scope and content of the seven volumes from the start, and worked conscientiously and meticulously on the series for the next 13 years at an average rate of one page per evening.

According to Wainwright in his autobiography Fellwanderer, he initially planned the series for his own interest rather than with any intention of publication. When he did come to publish his first book it was privately through a local printer, as he could not face the prospect of finding a publisher; however, his friend Henry Marshall, Chief Librarian of Kendal and Westmorland, took charge of publicity and administration and his name appears as publisher on the early editions. This arrangement continued for the first editions of the next three books in the series, after which they were taken over by the local newspaper the Westmorland Gazette based in Kendal. Wainwright's books were in turn taken over by Michael Joseph in the 1990s. When they ceased publication in 2003, the rights were bought by Frances Lincoln
Frances Lincoln
Frances Elisabeth Rosemary Lincoln was an English independent publisher of illustrated books. She won a Woman of the Year award in 1995.-Education:...

.

The Pictorial Guides are currently being updated, for the first time since their original publication, to take account of changed conditions on the fells. The revisions are being made by Chris Jesty, who uses an imitation of Wainwright's hand lettering to make the alterations look as unobtrusive as possible. The most notable changes are that the covers of the revised books show photographs of the Lake District by Derry Brabbs, rather than the drawings that were on the covers of the originals, and the maps show the paths in red. As of September 2010 the seven books in the 'Lakeland Fells' series have been issued in the revised edition. It has been announced that the remaining guides are also to be revised, first 'A Coast to Coast Walk', then 'The Outlying Fells of Lakeland' and then 'The Pennine Way Companion'.

Later works


Wainwright followed the Pictorial Guides in 1968 with the Pennine Way Companion, applying the same detailed approach to Britain's first long-distance footpath. This was for many years a leading guide to the Pennine Way
Pennine Way
The Pennine Way is a National Trail in England. The trail runs from Edale, in the northern Derbyshire Peak District, north through the Yorkshire Dales and the Northumberland National Park and ends at Kirk Yetholm, just inside the Scottish border. The path runs along the Pennine hills, sometimes...

, rivalling the official guide book by Tom Stephenson
Tom Stephenson
Tom Criddle Stephenson was a British journalist and a leading champion of walkers' rights in the countryside.In the First World War he was imprisoned as a conscientious objector....

. Wainwright's book consists of a continuous strip map of the route with accompanying commentary, with an unusual quirk: because the route goes from south to north (bottom to top on a map), contrary to normal reading order, the map and commentary start at the bottom of the last page and work upwards and backwards towards the front of the book. The guide was prepared with the aid of four helpers (Harry Appleyard, Len Chadwick, Cyril Moore and Lawrence Smith) and its preparation was affected by the major outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in 1966 and 1967, which closed access to many of the moors.

In 1972 Wainwright devised the east-west Coast to Coast Walk
Coast to Coast Walk
The Coast to Coast Walk is a 192-mile unofficial and mostly unsignposted long distance footpath in Northern England...

, partly as a conscious alternative to the north-south Pennine Way. The Coast to Coast, he declares in his guidebook to the route, which follows the same format as the Pennine Way Companion, "puts the Pennine Way to shame" for scenic beauty, variety and interest. The 190-mile route traverses the north of England from St. Bees to Robin Hood's Bay
Robin Hood's Bay
Robin Hood’s Bay is a small fishing village and a bay located five miles south of Whitby and 15 miles north of Scarborough on the coast of North Yorkshire, England. Bay Town, its local name, is in the ancient chapelry of Fylingdales in the wapentake of Whitby Strand.-Toponymy:The origin of the name...

, passing through the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales
Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales is the name given to an upland area in Northern England.The area lies within the historic county boundaries of Yorkshire, though it spans the ceremonial counties of North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Cumbria...

 and the North York Moors
North York Moors
The North York Moors is a national park in North Yorkshire, England. The moors are one of the largest expanses of heather moorland in the United Kingdom. It covers an area of , and it has a population of about 25,000...

 national parks
National parks of England and Wales
The national parks of England and Wales are areas of relatively undeveloped and scenic landscape that are designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949...

.

The Outlying Fells of Lakeland
The Outlying Fells of Lakeland
The Outlying Fells of Lakeland is a book written by Alfred Wainwright, dealing with hills in and around the Lake District of England. It differs from Wainwright's Pictorial Guides in that it describes a series of walks, some of them taking in several summits, rather than devoting a chapter to each...

 (an idea he had previously rejected), published in 1974, was his last major guidebook. Thereafter he concentrated on sketchbooks of larger-size line drawings until his eyesight began to fail in the mid-1980s. His Ex-Fellwanderer, an autobiographical work published in 1987, was clearly intended to be his last written work, but he continued to lend his name and some written commentary to a series of "coffee table books" featuring the photography of Derry Brabbs.

Television and radio


By the mid-1980s Wainwright was becoming a TV personality; he featured in five television series for the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, largely devised and presented by farmer and broadcaster Eric Robson
Eric Robson
Eric Robson, born in Scotland, is a television broadcaster, author and documentary film maker who has lived for most of his life in Cumbria, where he has a sheep farm.-Career:...

. In 2010, Robson also presented a one-hour BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 documentary on Wainwright called "The Man behind the Mountains" (16 Oct 2010).

A new BBC documentary about Wainwright's life and was broadcast on Sunday 25 February 2007 on BBC Four
BBC Four
BBC Four is a British television network operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation and available to digital television viewers on Freeview, IPTV, satellite and cable....

, prior to a new 4-part series of walks, beginning the following evening.

This first Wainwright Walks BBC series covered Blencathra
Blencathra
Blencathra, also known as Saddleback, is one of the most northerly mountains in the English Lake District. It has six separate fell tops, of which the highest is the Hallsfell Top.-Name:...

 by Sharp Edge, Castle Crag
Castle Crag
Castle Crag is a hill in the North Western Fells of the English Lake District. It is the smallest hill included in Alfred Wainwright's influential Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, the only Wainwright below 1,000 ft....

, Haystacks and Scafell Pike
Scafell Pike
Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England at . It is located in Lake District National Park sometimes confused with the neighbouring Sca Fell, to which it is connected by the col of Mickledore...

 from Seathwaite. The second series, broadcast later in 2007, includes Catbells
Catbells
Catbells is a fell in the English Lake District in the county of Cumbria. It has a modest height of but despite this it is one of the most popular fells in the area. It is situated on the western shore of Derwent Water within of the busy tourist town of Keswick...

, Crinkle Crags
Crinkle Crags
Crinkle Crags is a fell in the English Lake District in the county of Cumbria. It forms part of two major rings of mountains, surrounding the valleys of Great Langdale and Upper Eskdale. The name reflects the fell's physical appearance as its summit ridge is a series of five rises and depressions ...

, Helm Crag
Helm Crag
Helm Crag is a fell in the English Lake District situated in the Central Fells to the north of Grasmere. Despite its low height it sits prominently at the end of a ridge, easily seen from the village...

, Helvellyn
Helvellyn
Helvellyn is a mountain in the English Lake District, the apex of the Eastern Fells. At above sea level, it is the third highest peak in both the Lake District and England...

 from Patterdale, High Street
High Street (Lake District)
High Street is a fell in the English Lake District. At 828 metres , its summit is the highest point in the far eastern part of the national park. The fell is named after the Roman road which ran over the summit.-History and Naming:...

 from Mardale and Pillar
Pillar (Lake District)
Pillar is a mountain in the western part of the English Lake District. Situated between the valleys of Ennerdale to the north and Wasdale to the south, it is the highest point of the Pillar group . At 892 metres it is the eighth highest mountain in the Lake District...

. A third series was produced in August 2008, while a 6-part series entitled Wainwright Walks: Coast to Coast was broadcast on BBC Four
BBC Four
BBC Four is a British television network operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation and available to digital television viewers on Freeview, IPTV, satellite and cable....

 in April and May 2009 and on BBC2 from 21 July 2009, and presented by Julia Bradbury
Julia Bradbury
Julia Bradbury is an Irish-born British television presenter, best known for presenting the BBC One programme Countryfile and other documentaries and consumer affairs programmes.-Early years:...

. A Granada TV series Wainwright Country included Eagle Crag
Eagle Crag
Eagle Crag is a fell in the Lake District in Cumbria, England, it is situated near the village of Stonethwaite where the valleys of Langstrath and Greenup join. Impressive walls of crag look down upon Stonethwaite, making Eagle Crag the most arresting sight from that settlement...

, Great Calva
Great Calva
Great Calva is a fell in the Lake District, England. It is in the Northern Fells, lying roughly at the centre of this region of high ground. As a result it is distant from roads and quite remote by Lakeland standards...

, Knott Rigg
Knott Rigg
Knott Rigg is a fell at the head of the Newlands Valley in the English Lake District. It is situated some 8.5 kilometres south west of Keswick and has a modest height of 556 metres . Its name is derived from the Old English language and means “hill on a knobbly ridge”...

, Pike O'Blisco
Pike of Blisco
Pike of Blisco, or Pike o' Blisco, is a mountain in the Lake District in Cumbria, England. Located between the valleys of Great Langdale and Little Langdale, its relative isolation from neighbouring fells together with slopes falling away immediately from the summit in all directions mean it has...

, Stybarrow Dodd
Stybarrow Dodd
Stybarrow Dodd is a fell in the English Lake District. It stands on the main spine of the Helvellyn range in the Eastern Fells, situated between Thirlmere and the Ullswater catchment.-Topography:...

, Thornthwaite Crag
Thornthwaite Crag
Thornthwaite Crag is a fell in the English Lake District, standing to the west of Haweswater Reservoir. It is a focal point of the Far Eastern Fells, standing at the head of several valleys.-Topography:...

 and Yewbarrow
Yewbarrow
Yewbarrow is a fell in the English Lake District which lies immediately north of the head of Wast Water. It is 628 metres high and in shape resembles the upturned hull of a boat or a barrow. Yewbarrow is on the left in the classic view of Great Gable and Wast Water.The top of Stirrup Crag...

.

DVD release


Wainwright Walks Series One was released on DVD in June 2007 and Series Two was released in early January 2008. A further series Wainwright Walks: Coast to Coast was released on DVD in June 2009.

Influence


Wainwright died in 1991 of a heart attack. According to his biographer Hunter Davies
Hunter Davies
Edward Hunter Davies is a prolific British author, journalist and broadcaster, perhaps best known for writing the only authorised biography of The Beatles.- Early life :...

 he failed to leave anything to his son Peter, the product of his first, unhappy marriage.

Wainwright's Pictorial Guides have been in continuous publication since they were written and have sold more than two million copies. Although a large number of more up-to-date guides are now on the market, his books remain among the most popular available for their depth, detail and unique style. Moreover, his division of the Lake District into seven areas, and his choice of fells to include, have been followed in whole or in part by subsequent writers such as Mark Richards. The Coast to Coast Walk
Coast to Coast Walk
The Coast to Coast Walk is a 192-mile unofficial and mostly unsignposted long distance footpath in Northern England...

 too is one of the most popular long-distance footpaths in the United Kingdom despite its lack of official status, and has spawned various guidebooks by other authors. In 2003 it was voted the second best walk in the world in a survey of experts conducted by Country Walking magazine. The popularity of Wainwright's books of drawings and large-format photographic books has not matched that of the guides, however, and many of these are now out of print.

The 214 fells described in the Pictorial Guides are now generally known as the Wainwrights, and visiting them all is a common form of peak bagging
Peak bagging
Peak bagging is an activity in which hillwalkers and mountaineers attempt to reach the summit of some collection of peaks, usually those above some height in a particular region, or having a particular feature.Peak bagging can be distinguished from highpointing...

. The Long Distance Walkers Association
Long Distance Walkers Association
The Long Distance Walkers Association is a British association whose aim is "to further the common interests of those who enjoy Long Distance Walking". It was established in 1972 and has over 6,000 members...

 maintains a register of walkers who have completed the Wainwrights; in November 2007 there were 459 people on the list, of whom 40 had completed more than once. Dave Hewitt estimates that the total number of completers could be over 50% higher than the LDWA's figure. The Ramblers Association reported in 2008 that a boy of six years, four months and 27 days had become the youngest person to complete the Wainwrights. In April 2009 a young boy of just five years old completed the round and becomes the third member of his family to do so after his older sisters held the 'Youngest 214 Completer' previously. Wainwrights On The Air is a scheme whereby amateur radio enthusiasts aim to make contact with or from the Wainwright summits.

Wainwright was a strong supporter of animal rights
Animal rights
Animal rights, also known as animal liberation, is the idea that the most basic interests of non-human animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings...

 and gave most of the profits from his books to animal charities. In 1972 he became chairman of the recently founded Animal Rescue Cumbria, and over the years he donated enough money to the charity to enable the foundation in 1984 of Kapellan, a shelter for stray cats and dogs in Kendal. After his death the society was renamed "Animal Rescue Cumbria – The Wainwright Shelter" in his memory.

The Wainwright Society was inaugurated in 2002, with the aim of keeping alive the things he promoted through his books.

On 27 June 2008 a new landmark road bridge, in his home city of Blackburn, was officially opened and named the Wainwright Bridge in his honour.

Guidebooks

  • A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells
    • Book 1: The Eastern Fells (1955)
    • Book 2: The Far Eastern Fells (1957)
    • Book 3: The Central Fells (1958)
    • Book 4: The Southern Fells (1960)
    • Book 5: The Northern Fells (1962)
    • Book 6: The North Western Fells (1964)
    • Book 7: The Western Fells (1966)
  • Pennine Way Companion (1968)
  • Walks in Limestone Country (1970)
  • Walks on the Howgill Fells (1972)
  • A Coast to Coast Walk (1973)
  • The Outlying Fells of Lakeland
    The Outlying Fells of Lakeland
    The Outlying Fells of Lakeland is a book written by Alfred Wainwright, dealing with hills in and around the Lake District of England. It differs from Wainwright's Pictorial Guides in that it describes a series of walks, some of them taking in several summits, rather than devoting a chapter to each...

     (1974)
  • Walks from Ratty (1978)
  • Old Roads of Eastern Lakeland (1985)

Books of drawings

  • A Lakeland Sketchbook (1969)
  • A Second Lakeland Sketchbook (1970)
  • A Third Lakeland Sketchbook (1971)
  • A Fourth Lakeland Sketchbook (1972)
  • A Fifth Lakeland Sketchbook (1973)
  • Westmorland Heritage (1974)
  • Scottish Mountain Drawings (6 vols, 1974–1978)
  • A Dales Sketchbook (1976)
  • Kendal in the 19th Century (1977)
  • A Second Dales Sketchbook (1978)
  • A Furness Sketchbook (1978)
  • A Second Furness Sketchbook (1979)
  • Three Westmorland Rivers (1979)
  • A Lune Sketchbook (1980)
  • A Ribble Sketchbook (1980)
  • An Eden Sketchbook (1980)
  • Lakeland Mountain Drawings (5 vols, 1980–1984)
  • A Bowland Sketchbook (1981)
  • Welsh Mountain Drawings (1981)
  • A Wyre Sketchbook (1982)
  • A North Wales Sketchbook (1982)
  • A South Wales Sketchbook (1983)
  • A Peak District Sketchbook (1984)

Autobiographical works

  • Fellwanderer: The Story Behind the Guidebooks (1966)
  • Ex-Fellwanderer (1987)
  • A Pennine Journey: The Story of a Long Walk in 1938 (1987)
  • Memoirs of a Fellwanderer (1993)

Colour illustrated books

  • Fellwalking with Wainwright (1984), with Derry Brabbs
  • Wainwright on the Pennine Way (1985), with Derry Brabbs
  • Wainwright's Coast to Coast Walk (1987), with Derry Brabbs
  • Wainwright in Scotland (1988), with Derry Brabbs
  • Wainwright in the Lakeland Mountain Passes (1989), with Derry Brabbs
  • Wainwright in the Limestone Dales (1991), with Ed Gelgard
  • Wainwright's Favourite Lakeland Mountains (1991), with Derry Brabbs
  • Wainwright in the Valleys of Lakeland (1992), with Derry Brabbs
  • Wainwright's tour in the Lake District (1993), with Ed Gelgard

Other works

  • Map of Westmorland (1974)
  • Plague Dogs by Richard Adams (illustrations and maps)(1977)
  • Antiquarian Map of Cumbria (1980)

See also


  • W. A. Poucher
    W. A. Poucher
    William Arthur Poucher , known as Walter since he picked up the nickname during his Army service,was one of the leading British mountain photographers and guide book writers during and following World War II. He personally explored and photographed all the routes he describes in his famous mountain...

     — whose mountain guidebook style and intensive use of photographs were in contrast to Wainwright's.
  • Harry Griffin
    Harry Griffin
    Arthur Harry Griffin , usually known in print as A. Harry Griffin, was a British journalist and mountaineer...

     - Lakeland diarist and friend of Wainwright's, who nonetheless disapproved of the damage to the fells that the popular guidebooks could cause.

External links