Joining the dots in Wainwrights

Published 15 May 2012

Wainwright's Pictorial Guide to the Central Fells

Like many walkers, I have a set of Wainwright’s guides on my bookshelf. Seven in total. As well as Wainwright’s Pennine Way Companion and his A Coast to Coast Walk, there’s five pictorial guides to the Lake District.

They’re all a variety of ages. There’s two, recently published second edition Pictorial Guides (the Far Eastern and the Western Fells), both recently published and both spanking new. Then there’s the 2003 edition of A Coast to Coast Walk; hastily updated by the publishers with alerations in a jarring serif font sitting next to the neat writing of AW. Oh and a slightly earlier Pictorial Guide to the Southern Fells from about 2002.

Then we start getting older. The Pennine Way Companion gives no clues on the date of publication but the yellowing pages proclaim it to be the 48th edition.

Then there’s the wonderfully smelling and well-thumbed copies of the Central Fells (20th edition) and Eastern Fells (17th edition.)

The older ones have been “borrowed” from Catherine’s dad, although he doesn’t seem to have missed them. They’re a particular joy to read; the crinkley feeling paper and Mike’s blue underlining.

Wainwright Ridge Routes

But the real best bit comes on the area map near the front of the book. The map that shows all the fells covered in the pictorial guide. For Mike went through both copies, linking the images up; inking in all the ridge routes recommended by Wainwright in his text.

It’s a wonderful edition. You sit there looking at it, thinking “wow. I can go all the way from Walla Crag to Grange Fell via six other fells, all without loosing too much height!” Then you realise you’d probably not be able to do all that all in one day and then you have to start thinking about where you might wild camp on those fells. And maybe do it over a four or so days.

The other night I sat down to think about a trip in June and dragged out my copies of the Southern Fells and Western Fells. Armed with a pencil, I diligently went through the two books working out the possible ridge routes. The result in the Western Fells was wonderfully epic. A possible route over 21 fells. Great Borne to Grike over goodness knows how many miles. How long would that take, I wondered?

Joining the Wainwright dots

Then a bigger question popped in to my mind. As I stared at the network of spindley lines, I couldn’t help but ponder… Was it? Could it possibly be? Hmm… Maybe, just maybe this was how Tubular Fells came in to fruition. Did the creator of that tube map-meets-fell guide sit there joining up all the dots and go “Well there’s an idea?”

Whatever, it didn’t matter. What did matter is that suddenly possibilities were visible; ideas could present themselves. The ideas in my head were endless. All I needed was a plan.



15 May 2012 at 8:29 pm

Hate to burst your bubble, but published a set of Wainwright ridge maps in 2004. So I reckon Tubular Fells got some inspiration from there. But even so, nothing can beat the fun and excitement of joining the dots yourself. I’ve made myself a huge chart of all of the Wainwrights, Outlying Fells, Nuttalls and other notable tops all joined up with ridge lines, which I have on my wall in my study at home.

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

15 May 2012 at 9:10 pm

Ah but where did get their inspiration from? Was it joining the dots ;)

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