It took Wainwright more than a decade to complete the original seven volumes, the final one, on the Western Fells, being published in 1966. Subsequently in 1974 he added an eighth on the outlying fells “to cater for those who, because of age or infirmity, must be content with milder expeditions”.
After fifty years, although nothing had replaced them in the affections of Lake District enthusiasts, there was no denying that they needed updating if the Pictorial Guides were to continue a useful life,
Wainwright himself had written years earlier that they would eventually cease to be useful due to changes in the landscape. He knew, though, that he would not be able to take on the task of revision and said that he did not want it to be done in his lifetime.
Chris Jesty, who had worked on other projects with AW, took up the challenge. From 2005 to 2009 volumes of his Second Revised Edition were released by publisher Frances Lincoln. They also published an Anniversary Edition of the original guides and this, often as a boxed set, has proved popular with fans of Lake District walking.
The Wainwright Guides – now for a third edition
Now, another decade later the world has moved on again. If anyone thinks that the Lake District landscape is unchanging they should think again. Like any other area it rightly refuses to be frozen in time, despite the efforts of those conservationists who believe they know exactly what it should look like and precisely how it should remain.
Yes, a living landscape changes, and as a consequence the Wainwright Guides once more need an update.
The task has been given by Frances Lincoln to Clive Hutchby, author of The Wainwright Companion (2012). Now retired from a career as a newspaper editor he has moved to live in Cumbria. He is currently at work on The Eastern Fells and this first volume is scheduled for publication early in 2015. The others are planned to follow at intervals in coming years.
There are hundreds of paths to be checked including the unofficial “off-piste” routes that Wainwright included and which do not feature as marked paths on maps. It will be a massive task, but one that Clive Hutchby as a veteran of Wainwright’s walks is well qualified to undertake.
For more on this story see The Westmorland Gazette.
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