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back to Book Reviews

Wainwright’s Way - A long-distance walk through Alfred Wainwright’s life from Blackburn to Haystacks
by Nick Burton

ISBN: 97807 11233218
Published by Frances Lincoln

Over recent years, there has been a vast number of books by writers jumping on the Wainwright bandwagon. Not another Wainwright book, I hear you say!

But this book is different. It has an air of charm about it as it takes the reader on a journey following AW’s life from his youth among what he called the ‘dingy houses and shabby streets’ of Blackburn to Kendal where he worked and lived for fifty years, and ends in the western Lake District where his ashes were scattered in 1991.

It was in the Lake District where he wrote his finest work, the seven Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells, from 1952 to 1966. As Nick Burton explains in the book’s introduction: ‘Like the poor industrial workers of the 19th century, often unemployed weavers, AW found inspiration from the Lakeland fells.’

and sketchbooks, and the route in Wainwright’s Way takes the reader through areas he sketched and wrote about in books such as A Ribble Sketchbook, A Bowland Sketchbook, A Lune Heritage, Westmorland Heritage, and Three Westmorland Rivers. The route continues to Kendal and on through the Lake District, visiting areas in five of the seven Pictorial Guides (Books 2 and 5 being omitted) plus places depicted in The Outlying Fells of Lakeland and A Coast to Coast Walk.

In the Lake District, the route visits Troutbeck, Patterdale, Grasmere, Borrowdale and Buttermere and, having paid respects at Innominate Tarn on Haystacks, the walk concludes at St James’s Church in Buttermere.

The walk is 126 miles in length and is conveniently split into ten days’ walking, plus two circular walks – in Blackburn and Kendal – each day ending at locations with overnight accommodation available. The route of the text is set in italic with the author’s commentary interleaved in roman type.

Nick Burton is a professional walk leader for Blackburn Council and his walking knowledge shines through in this book which is punctuated with his own sketch maps and a number of AW’s drawings. Wainwright’s Way is the same size and shape as the Pictorial Guides and will nestle nicely on the bookshelf next to the works of the master.

John Burland - Member No. 2