articles > 2006
In May 1955 Alfred Wainwright, master fellwalker, finished the first in a series of Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. The remaining six books were completed over the next ten years. These books, as with so many others which were to follow, were drawn entirely by hand with no typesetting whatsoever.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary this event, the Wainwright Society set its members a challenge to climb all of the 214 named fells in the seven guide books, during the eight days of May 14 to 21 last year. Ellen Regan, Society member number 538, just before her ninth birthday, chose Brock Crags in the Far Eastern Fells as her challenge. However, despite her years, this was not the first fell that Ellen had climbed, for on Friday 2l April 2000 then aged 3 years 11 months, she had climbed High Pike in the Northern Fells, this being the nearest to her home in the north-eastern Lake District.
On Saturday 18 March 2006, aged 9 years 10 months, Ellen climbed Scafell Pike to complete the 214 'Wainwrights'. The Society believes this to be an outstanding feat, which is unlikely to be surpassed (unless Ellen's sister, Kerry, now aged six beats her). At the Society's recent Annual General Meeting, Ellen's achievement was recognised, and John Nicoll of Frances Lincoln (who publish these unique books) made a presentation of a boxed set of Wainwright's five Lake District Sketchbooks.
The Society, which has over 600 members, hopes that Ellen’s tremendous achievement will encourage others to join, and discover the joys of fellwalking.
The Youngest Completer?
by Ellen Regan
I moved from Hampshire to Caldbeck, Cumbria in March 2000 and I did my first Wainwright fell in April 2000 when I was 3 years old. This was High Pike in the Northern Fells, which I can see from my house and from the village school field.
I finished the North Western Fells first in April 2002, as access to the Northern Fells was very heavily restricted during the Foot & Mouth crisis. However, completion of the Northern Fells followed pretty quickly in September 2002. My most memorable walk in the Northern Fells was Blencathra because I went up over Sharp Edge, which wasn’t as bad as I’d expected but still quite scary! My favourite walk in the North Westerns was Grasmoor because that was my last one!
I then did the Western Fells, which were really hard work, although a stay overnight in the Wastwater Youth Hostel was a real highlight. I finished this set in October 2003. The arrival of my baby brother, Robin, in May 2003 had slowed down my walking quite a bit! Then my younger sister, Kerry, started to join me on my walks and we did the Central Fells together, finishing in July 2004. The best bit of these fells was staying in the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and doing the Langdale Pikes. Next it was on the Eastern Fells, a lot of which were done across the winter, and I finished in February 2005. I did Helvellyn on a very cold, wintry day, but I really enjoyed Swirral Edge and Catstycam. The Far Eastern Fells were done in much better weather and one of my favourite walks took in The Knott, Rampsgill Head, High Raise, Kidsty Pike, High Street, Thornthwaite Crag (I was very impressed with the huge cairn) and Gray Crag. I also did Brock Crags as my nominated fell for the Wainwright 50th Anniversary Challenge which I enjoyed. Kerry did Shipman Knotts for the Challenge. I finished this set in September 2005.
Finally it was on to my last book, the Southern Fells. I did lots of really long walks in this set. On one of the longest we went off up The Band to Bowfell, continued on to Esk Pike and Great End and then returned over Rossett Pike. The whole route was very snowy and icy so it was really hard, slow work and I was very tired when we got back. I finished the Southern Fells on the 18th March 2006 on top of Scafell Pike after an ascent from Wasdale Head over Lingmell. It was a very snowy and cold day but with blue skies and pretty good visibility.
Scafell Pike seemed a really good place to finish – after all Wainwright does say:
"This is it: the Mecca of all weary pilgrims in Lakeland … the ultimate; the supreme; the one objective above all others; the highest ground in England; the top of Scafell Pike."
Ellen Regan aged 9 years