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back to Book Reviews

Wainwright’s Lost Tour
by Ed Geldard
ISBN: 978-1848689503.
Published by Amberley Publishing

After AW’s ‘Road to Damascus’ first visit to the Lake District in June 1930, he devised an ambitious walking tour, to be undertaken over Whitsuntide the following year with three colleagues from the Borough Treasurer’s department at Blackburn Town Hall, Harry Driver, Eric Maudsley and Jim Sharples.

On his plan, AW wrote: ‘It is the claim of this programme that EVERY lake, EVERY valley, EVERY mountain will be seen if not actually visited.’ AW didn’t leave any specific notes about the trip although he prepared a detailed itinerary which Eric Maudsley retained and which has formed the basis of the books written about the walking holiday.
Ed Geldard, a professional landscape photographer, first met AW in 1989 when, to his great surprise, AW asked him if he would be interested in doing the photography for a new book he was planning on the Limestone Dales. Wainwright in the Limestone Dales was published in 1991 to critical acclaim, shortly after AW’s death’.

It was not long after this that AW’s notes to the walking tour of 1931 came to light in Eric Maudsley’s possession, and Ed Geldard suggested to Michael Joseph Ltd – then the Wainwright publishers – that a book in the style of the earlier Wainwright/Brabbs collaborations would be viable. This was Wainwright’s Tour in the Lake District – Whitsuntide 1931 with photographs by Ed Geldard and text and drawings taken from AW’s Pictorial Guides and sketchbooks.

In 1988, the publishers put the text into the Pictorial Guide format, with the walk broken down – at the suggestion of Eric Robson who had produced a Striding Edge video of the walk – into a more manageable eleven days; like the video, it was called The Wainwright Memorial Walk. This book is now available from Frances Lincoln Ltd. This latest book about the Whitsuntide walk, Wainwright’s Lost Tour, is very different from the earlier version in that it is primarily a book of photographs with only a little text. There are a total of 182 colour photographs and accompanying each one is a short narrative about the particular scene.

I found the Introduction of particular interest, where the weather forecast for the six days is given alongside notes culled from Maudsley’s introduction to the first book, and together these give an insight into why some of the planned route was changed, and several summits were abandoned. In his acknowledgements, Ed Geldard mentions the help given to him in this respect by Joan Self of the National Meteorological Archive. This is the same lady who helped Derek Cockell from the Society with his research into the actual date of AW’s first visit to the Lake District in 1930 and his ascent of Orrest Head. See the article by Derek in Footsteps of March 2010.

The photographs are good, some excellent; those who have the original book, however, will notice very many similarities. As with so many photographic books of this sort, some of the juxtapositions across the double-page spread are uneasy, and the decision to use blown-up sections of a later photograph as the opening to each Day or chapter has not, to my mind, always worked: the result is often what appears to be a rather blurred image.
The book is not without a number of factual errors and spelling mistakes but, in my opinion, overall it is a book that merits inclusion in my Wainwright collection.

John Burland - Member No. 2