Wainwright peak-baggers welcome at Ambleside guest house

A new centre dedicated to the Wainwright peak-baggers is to be set up in Ambleside.

Christine and Anthony Harrison at the Smallwood Hotel want to help walkers share their achievements when ticking off the Lakeland fells. They are going to create a display of Wainwright books and memorabilia along with a log book, wall charts, pictures and maps to record fellwalking guests’ achievements.

They are also planning an online forum on the hotel’s website where walkers can share their adventures on the hills, and will encourage walkers to take photos of themselves on the summits to create a picture montage for the hotel.

Both keen walkers, Christine and Anthony say that many of their visitors are fell walkers using the ideal location to tick off as many summits as possible. The hotel lies within reach of many hills in the Central, Eastern and Far Eastern Fells, and bedroom windows look across the town to Wansfell.

“Our guests often come back after a day on the tops, full of pride and a sense of achievement, and we thought it would be good to provide them with a chance to talk about what they’ve done with other walkers,” said Christine.

“We want to encourage them to get out onto the fells, and encourage them to share their stories afterwards.”

They say that their scheme is not so much a tribute to Wainwright himself as to the walkers who now challenge themselves to follow in his footsteps.

Their plan has been welcomed by the broadcaster Eric Robson, chairman of the Wainwright Society, who made a series of programmes walking with AW for the BBC in the 1980s. He said: “Anything that encourages new generations of walkers to enjoy the experience of the  fells is to be welcomed. Following in Wainwright’s steps, and being inspired by his guidebooks, has changed the lives of tens of thousands of people.”

Derek Cockell, secretary of The Wainwright Society, said: “The Society is always pleased to hear of initiatives that encourage people to pull on their boots and get out on to the Lake District fells.”

A register held by the Long-Distance Walkers Association lists almost 700 people who have completed all 214 summits in the seven Wainwright guides, but the Wainwright Society believes that the actual figure is many more than that, and there are several people who have made multiple ascents of them all. At the start of 2014 there were 74 people who had completed more than one round, seven of whom had completed ten or more rounds.

Alfred Wainwright, who died in 1991, is best known for his famous Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells which he compiled between 1952 and 1966. They are handwritten and hand-drawn works of art which have given inspiration to walkers since, and he was awarded the MBE for his work.

Wainwright was also the creator of A Coast to Coast Walk, which is 190 miles (305 km) long from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire and is now of one most popular long distance walks in the country.

A memorial to him can be found in the church at Buttermere; his ashes were scattered above the village on his favourite mountain, Haystacks.


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