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Wainwright Society marks 60, 50 and 40 years

Posted 19 March 2012
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Wainwright Society marks 60, 50 and 40 years
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For those who like to go walking in the Lake District, Alfred Wainwright is as familiar a literary name as Beatrix Potter or William Wordsworth.

But while the others wrote fiction or poetry with style and imagination, Wainwright was a vernacular, working-class lad from Blackburn whose love of the Lake District saw him move north to Kendal and achieve fame in the 1950s and 1960s with his seven pictorial guides to the fells.

Hand-written and illustrated, these detailed books listed 214 fells, from the 3,210 ft summit of England at Scafell Pike to the more diminutive Castle Crag, at less than 1,000 ft.

Gaining a cult following, these works and Wainwright's later books are so venerated that the Wainwright Society was formed after his death in 1991, aiming to keep the memory of the author and his works alive as well as the fellwalking traditions he did so much to promote.

And this year is a special one for the society, as it marks 60 years since Wainwright began his first guidebook, The Eastern Fells. The year is also the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Northern Fells and 40 years since Wainwright's Walks on the Howgill Fells were published. The society is marking the triple anniversary with a challenge in May that will see a member ascending each of the 91 fells covered in the three books. 

It may be ironic that these anniversaries fall in a year when the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks are set to be expanded, particularly in the case of the Howgills as the southern half of these lie on the Dales - being inside the 1952 Yorkshire boundary - while the northern ones were then in Westmorland but are proposed to be added now.

Even if the Lake District is expanded, this will not add to the Wainwright list as he left out outlying fells such as Black Combe. This was a truly personal list and even as walkers trek in their hiking boots across the felltops, the celebration will be as much about the man as the mountains and hills he helped to make even more famous.ADNFCR-2803-ID-801320466-ADNFCR