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Memoirs of a Fellwanderer: A User's Guide Paperback – 10 Nov 2003
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Originally compiled in the 1950s and early 1960s, the Wainwright walking guides are perhaps the most distinctive and unusual such guides ever devised. The result of painstaking and lengthy research by their namesake and author over a period of 13 years, the guides have retained their original format and design to this day. The books contain intricate hand drawn sketches by the author, detailing routes of accent, and gradients of the hills in and around the Lake District and outlying regions. This is the biography of Alfred Wainwright, born in Blackburn in 1907, he left school at the age of 13. A holiday at the age of 23 kindled a life long love affair with the Lake District. Following a move to Kendal in 1941 Wainwright devoted every spare minute of his days to researching and compiling the original seven pictorial guides.
About the Author
"I suppose it might be said, to add impressiveness to the whole thing, that this book has been twenty years in the making, for it is so long, and more, since I first came from a smoky mill-town (forgive me, Blackburn!) and beheld, from Orrest Head, a scene of great beauty, a fascinating paradise, Lakeland's mountains and trees and water. That was the first time I had looked upon beauty, or imagined it, even.
Afterwards I went often, whenever I could, and always my eyes were lifted to the hills. I was to find then, and it has been so ever since, a spiritual and physical satisfaction in climbing mountains – and a tranquil mind upon reaching their summits, as though I had escaped from the disappointments and unkindnesses of life and emerged above them into a new world, a better world.
In due course I came to live within sight of the hills, and I was well content. If I could not be climbing, I was happy to sit idly and dream of them, serenely. Then came a restlessness and the feeling that it was not enough to take their gifts and do nothing in return. I must dedicate something of myself, the best part of me, to them. I started to write about them, and to draw pictures of them. Doing these things, I found they were still giving and I still receiving, for a great pleasure filled me when I was so engaged – I had found a new way of escape to them and from all else less worth while.
Thus it comes about that I have written this book. Not for material gain, welcome though that would be (you see I have not escaped entirely!); not for the benefit of my contemporaries, though if it brings them also to the hills I shall be well pleased; certainly not for posterity, about which I can work up no enthusiasm at all. No, this book has been written, carefully and with infinite patience, for my own pleasure and because it has seemed to bring the hills to my own fireside. If it has merit, it is because the hills have merit."
A. Wainwright died in 1991 at the age of 84.
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No real shocks or controversies and lots of his pleasing line drawings to illustrate his story. Makes you really appreciate his life's work and consider his gift to the nation, allowing us all to wander the lovely Lakes absorbing his knowledge.
Well written and comfortable to read, I found it difficult to put the book down. However, I did break it down into sections as I found more out about AW and took breaks to consider what I had read.
His philosophy of fell walking would be alien to some. He promotes the benefits of walking alone and NOT telling others where you are going. That might upset some people on safety grounds but he explains his case well.
The book is a sensible amalgam of two earlier works - Fellwanderer (1966) and Ex-Fellwanderer (1987) - covering both ends of his long fell walking 'career'.
This is a 'must have' book for his followers.
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