Local Famous People: Alfred Wainwright

Alfred Wainwright and Wainwrights Walks in Lakeland

Alfred Wainwright portrait

(1907 – 1991 ) Wainwright will be forever famous for his pictorial guides to the Lake District fells. They have given fellwalkers inspiration for the past forty years.

Alfred Wainwright was born in Blackburn and was brought up in fairly poor circumstances. Aged 13 he left school and became an office boy in the Blackburn Borough Council Engineer’s Department. Aged 23 he managed a holiday away from home and he came to the Lake District for a week, he then came back as often as he could.

He studied to become a municipal accountant and in 1941 he was given a position in the Borough Treasurers Office in Kendal. He started his pen and ink drawings of the fells and then he started exploring and drawing what became his pictorial guides to the Lakeland fells. You can see a recreation of his office in the Kendal Museum of Natural History.

In 1972 Wainwright devised a coast to coast walk which he described as 'the grandest territory in the north of England'. The walk starts at St Bees travelling through Cleator, Ennerdale, Rosthwiate, Patterdale, Shap, Kirby Stephen up to Nine Standards Rigg and then out of Cumbria through the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, heading towards Robin Hoods Bay on the East Coast.

Wainwrights Walks give visitors a great guide to walking in Lakeland. The Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells are an illustrated account of a result of his study and exploration of the mountains in the Lake District. There are seven guides:

  1. The Eastern Fells (1955)
  2. The Far Eastern Fells (1957)
  3. The Central Fells (1958)
  4. The Southern Fells (1960)
  5. The Northern Fells (1962)
  6. The North Western Fells (1964)
  7. The Western Fells (1966)