It is now sixty years since Alfred Wainwright published the first of the seven volumes that make up his Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, detailing the 214 principal hills and mountains of the Lake District. Totalling more than 2,100 pages of meticulously hand-drawn and hand-lettered pages, the Pictorial Guides represent a "love letter" to a landscape that he had surveyed so definitively on foot and in ink. While the grandeur and poetry of the fells is unchanged since AW's day, the pace at which small changes may be encountered on the ground has never been greater. Walls, gates, stiles and fences are constantly being built, re-sited or removed altogether. Many paths have been obliterated, and new ones imprinted by the feet of countless hikers. Today's walkers need an up-to-the-minute guidebook to help them find the best routes to the summits, while avoiding potential hazards along the way. These new Walker's Editions of Wainwright's Pictorial Guides have been comprehensively revised and reissued - in a new, portable flexibound format - as practical and detailed guidebooks for visitors to the Lakeland fells. Every path, map, diagram and route description has been checked and corrected. These revisions have been undertaken by Wainwright expert Clive Hutchby, an international journalist and editor, and author of The Wainwright Companion. The Eastern Fells, the first of the new guidebooks, covers the area north of Ambleside, between Ullswater and Thirlmere, and includes the ascents of Helvellyn, Catstycam and Great Dodd.
"I suppose it might be said, to add impressiveness to the whole thing, that this book has been twenty years in the making, for it is so long, and more, since I first came from a smoky mill-town (forgive me, Blackburn!) and beheld, from Orrest Head, a scene of great beauty, a fascinating paradise, Lakeland's mountains and trees and water. That was the first time I had looked upon beauty, or imagined it, even.
Afterwards I went often, whenever I could, and always my eyes were lifted to the hills. I was to find then, and it has been so ever since, a spiritual and physical satisfaction in climbing mountains – and a tranquil mind upon reaching their summits, as though I had escaped from the disappointments and unkindnesses of life and emerged above them into a new world, a better world.
In due course I came to live within sight of the hills, and I was well content. If I could not be climbing, I was happy to sit idly and dream of them, serenely. Then came a restlessness and the feeling that it was not enough to take their gifts and do nothing in return. I must dedicate something of myself, the best part of me, to them. I started to write about them, and to draw pictures of them. Doing these things, I found they were still giving and I still receiving, for a great pleasure filled me when I was so engaged – I had found a new way of escape to them and from all else less worth while.
Thus it comes about that I have written this book. Not for material gain, welcome though that would be (you see I have not escaped entirely!); not for the benefit of my contemporaries, though if it brings them also to the hills I shall be well pleased; certainly not for posterity, about which I can work up no enthusiasm at all. No, this book has been written, carefully and with infinite patience, for my own pleasure and because it has seemed to bring the hills to my own fireside. If it has merit, it is because the hills have merit."
A. Wainwright died in 1991 at the age of 84.
CLIVE HUTCHBY climbed his very first Lakeland fell just two years after the publication of the last of legendary fellwalker and guidebook writer Alfred Wainwright’s seven PICTORIAL GUIDES TO THE LAKELAND FELLS, and a full six years before the author relented to ‘pressure’ from his fans and produced his final guide to the mountains of the English Lake District, THE OUTLYING FELLS OF LAKELAND. After conquering Catbells, he has grown taller (and older, unfortunately), and in the intervening years since has edited newspapers in England and the United States and also worked in Ireland. In all three countries he has won journalism awards for writing and designing. Clive is the author of THE WAINWRIGHT COMPANION, published in 2012, of which Cumberland News wrote 'No-one has analysed the Pictorial Guidebooks produced by Alfred Waiwright more closely than Clive Hutchby. He's counted the clouds in every book'.