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Wainwrightmania
 

Wainwright-mania: does that mean the passion for all things to do with AW?

Well no it doesn't. It refers to the way he which he was, in reality, a maniac. I've been reading AW's "Memoirs of a Fellwalker". There are some exceedingly odd assertions in it. For instance:-

He did not believe in carrying a compass, claiming that a good sense of direction is all you need. Well I reckon that I've got a pretty good sense of direction but I wouldn't like to rely on it to get off a mountain in low cloud (in fact I don't really like to rely on my compass reading!)

He was so antisocial that he hated sharing the top of a mountain with anyone else. He would hide behind a wall and wait for people to leave, if he found a summit already occupied as he neared it. He would even spend the night on a mountain just to have the top to himself first thing in the morning. So what, you say, lots of people like wild camping. Yes true, but Wainwright didn't take a tent!!

He was vitriolic about people who walk in groups. He did sometimes have company but clearly walking to him was meant to be savoured alone. Certainly walking can be wonderful alone but so can sharing your pleasures; I reckon that variety is the secret. AW was certainly scornful of the notion of the greater safety in walking with others - as indeed he was about most safety measures. He did carry a map but with some reluctance. 

He advocated the castration of football hooligans. I don't think he was joking either because it comes shortly after a statement that the best deterrent for crime is punishment through extreme pain. Actually I've always believed that the best deterrent is the probability of arrest and punishment, rather than a savage punishment.

He got to know his second wife, Betty, when she was one of a group of people giving him lifts when he was researching the Coast-to-Coast Walk. She would drop him off at the start and wait for his return. After a while she asked for permission to walk with him. This was granted, after some thought and on the condition that she didn't say anything to him on the walk (and from this romance blossomed? To think that Beryl accused me of being unromantic; mind you I do buy her new walking socks each year as her birthday present)

Being a functionary of a local authority, I was interested in what he had to say about his working life, as he was a local government officer, ending up as Borough Treasurer of Kendal. Well he actually kept his own ledgers in immaculate copperplate. From the ways he talks it is as if what was important was the neatness and accuracy of the accounts, with little reference to whether the money was well-spent. Also there appeared to be 14 people in the Treasurers Dept (including two women; I'd say that they were probably typists but AW hated typewriters). It clearly was another world.

For all these negative vibes, the book did fill me with admiration for one thing; the quality of AW's sketches of the mountains. He drew from photographs and many of the drawings are lined up with the original photo. But the drawings were far superior.

 

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