Alfred Wainwright - An Introduction


Alfred (A.) Wainwright MBE
(17 January 1907 to 20 January 1991)

Alfred Wainwright was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, into a poor family and was the son of a Stonemason. He left school at the age of 13 and started work as an office boy in Blackburn Borough Engineers 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, producing his own maps of England and his local area.

In 1930, at the age of 23, Wainwright saved up enough money for a weeks walking holiday in the Lake District with his cousin. They arrived in Windermere and climbed the nearby hill Orrest Head, where Wainwright saw his first view of the Lakeland fells. 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 Treasurers office in Kendal, Westmorland. 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. A few years later he would meet and marry Betty, also a divorcee who became his walking companion and who eventually carried his ashes to the top of Haystacks.

Wainwrights Pictorial Guides have been in continuous publication since they were written and have sold more than two million copies. 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 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 Wainwrights 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.


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 (1974)
Walks from Ratty (1978)

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 volumes, 1974ââ¬â1978)
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 volumes, 1980ââ¬â1984)
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)

Colour Illustrated Books

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