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back to Book Reviews

A Bit of Grit on Haystacks :A Celebration of Wainwright
edited by Dave Hewitt
Millrace Books
ISBN 1-902173-17-1

A Bit of Grit on HaystacksThis most attractively produced book was the brainchild of Dave Hewitt, author of Walking the Watershed and a long-time Wainwright fan, in which he and eight other authors contribute essays to mark the publication of the first Pictorial Guide in 1955, and also look forward to the centenary of AW's birth in 2007.

Of especial note are contributions from two of AW's long-time friends. Bill Mitchell almost succeeded in carrying out the first interview with the new author but Wainwright took fright at the last moment and what happened next is told by Hunter Davies in the official biography.  Harry Griffin, who accompanied AW on some of his forays whilst the Pictorial Guides were being researched, died during the preparation of this book but the article had been written. In it he wrote: 'I think Alf Wainwright probably was a genius, and I believe his best work which is really his memorial, is the Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, which set standards that are unlikely ever to be surpassed.' So say all of us.

I was particularly interested – but confess I did not understand all of it – in the article by Robin N. Campbell (the current Hon. Archivist of the Scottish Mountaineering Club), which describes the intricacies of AW's draughtsmanship and drawing methods (especially the shading in his illustrations) for the Pictorial Guides. I have to wonder whether AW was conscious of these detailed points, or whether he just drew instinctively.

This book, with nice illustrations by Craig Smillie, is a fine tribute to the master fellwalker, and may be obtained from or Millrace at 01663 765080.

reviewed by John Burland - Member No. 2