The Pictorial Guides
These fascinating guides have sold over two million copies since the first one was published in 1955, outselling their more up to date and sometimes more accurate counterparts (Wainwright had to estimate the heights of some fells), although this is not hard to understand once you have witnessed their depth, charm and unique style.
Wainwright allowed himself 13 years to complete the 7 book collection. With the hand written text and detailed drawings, this was no mean feat. A testament to his tenacious character is the fact that he finished the last book only a few weeks shy of his original target.
The pictorial guides have recently been updated by friend and fellow cartographer Chris Jesty. The alterations are minor and done in such a way as to imitate Wainwright’s own style. Although minor they are in essence essential after 50 years. They include necessary changes to routes, which are now marked in red, details of local parking and amended altitudes. The revised editions are proving a great success, edited in such a way that it’s difficult to spot the differences until compared side by side. They have somehow managed to improve on the originals whilst losing none of their magic.
For a complete list of Wainwright's work, including the guides, use the links on the right.
Wainwright next produced the ‘Pennine Way Companion’ (1968), a guide to the already established route through the backbone of England. This consisted of a continuous map flowing over each page along with Alfred’s notes and sketches. In keeping with his unique style and with the trail running from South to North, the book starts on the last page and works its way towards the front.
Four years later Wainwright created his own long distance alternative to the Pennine Way and called it the ‘Coast to Coast’. This 192 mile route takes the walker from St Bees (West) to Robin Hood’s Bay (East) as they cross England taking in 3 contrasting National Parks, the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors. The route can be done in as little 40 hours, which is the current record for running the distance, up to a more leisurely 3 weeks, with Wainwright suggesting a 2 week window to be ideal. In 2004 ‘Country Walking’ magazine proclaimed it the second greatest walk in the world. The Coast to Coast route is more popular today than ever with walkers travelling from all over the world to complete it.
Wainwright appeared in a few series himself during the 1980s with his good friend Eric Robson. One of those being his classic Coast to Coast Walk which allowed you an insight into his thoughts and ponderings as he and Eric completed the 190 mile route. Clips from that series also appeared in the recent offering from the BBC featuring Julia Bradbury. Over 6 episodes she follows in their footsteps from St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay. Julia is a great Wainwright fan and also fronted two series of the BBC’s ‘Wainwright Walks’. In which she climbed 10 of his favourite peaks. Prior to that, Granada had shown their own ‘Wainwright Country’ in which Fred Talbot donned his boots for our viewing pleasure. All of these are now available on DVD.