The inaugural meeting
of 'The Wainwright Society' was held on November 9th 2002 at Ambleside Youth Hostel. This was followed by a walk to the summit of Dove Crag, as AW had done 50 years before.
The primary aim of the Society is to keep alive the things which AW promoted through the guidebooks, started over 50 years ago, and the many other publications which were the 'labour of love' for a large portion of his life.
The Society, has over the years, raised many thousands of pounds for causes which we believe AW would have appreciated and supported. There are now close to 1000 members including some notable members such as Julia Bradbury, Sir Chris Bonnington, Stuart Maconie and Doug Scott.
There is an argument that the last thing Alfred Wainwright would have wanted is an appreciation society with a website. His idea of a website was a spider-infested cave on the approach to Caw and appreciation was what he felt in his beloved mountains. He never asked anyone to return the compliment.
But that's the problem with great men.
They tend to be dogmatic. Because they've thought the matter through and reached a reasoned conclusion, that's that. They want to be judged by their works. They have no interest in the tittle tattle that attaches itself limpet-like to celebrity.
(I'm pausing at this point to hear the rumbling humph and to be enveloped in a drifting cloud of Three Nuns tobacco smoke.)
AW's stock in trade was communication. He communicated better than any guide book writer before or since the essence of the Lakeland landscape, the visceral attachment of man to place, the spiritual power of weathered rock and angry sky. He was priest and poet in his own blunt way.
He may have chosen to communicate by pen and ink but we can't copy him. All we can do is use the cruder, less creative, technologies at our disposal and give our best shot at allowing the lines of communication he opened to reach new generations of fellwanderers.
I'm going to have to do a bit more persuading before I'll convince him to open the domain www.onhaystacks.com but at least I think the humphing's temporarily subsided.
Chairman of Wainwright Society