“I have to be honest,” Clive says, when I meet him at his Lake District home. “That this doesn’t altogether feel like work.”
The 58-year-old, who has been walking the Lakeland fells since he was a teenager, has been given the honour of updating the seven books which make up the Wainwright Pictorial Guides.
The books, hand-written and hand-drawn, have guided thousands of people up and down the fells and Clive is now charged with checking some 600 paths to ensure they remain accurate.
“I’m honoured,” he says. “I’ve always been a fan of Wainwright and to be asked to do this feels a bit surreal.
“For the last 18 months I’ve been doing a lot of walking and I’ve found a lot of things that are different so there will be changes.
“Wainwright said you should use the guidebooks as notebooks so that’s what I’ve been doing anyway.”
The original books were written by Wainwright (below) between 1952 and 1966.
The first, about the eastern fells, was published in 1955 and all seven books have been in continual publication since the final one was written in 1966.
Between 2005 and 2009, the series was revised by Kendal resident Chris Jesty.
But already, with gates replacing stiles and paths appearing where there were none, the books are out of date and need to be rewritten.
And next September Clive will be expected to hand in his first draft of the first book, which is to be published in spring 2015.
“It’s almost 10 years since the first of Chris Jesty’s books came out and it’s surprising the amount of things that have changed,” he said.
“Chris admitted that he hadn’t checked all the ‘off-piste’ routes because it was such a big job.
“But Wainwright suggested those so a lot of people have since used them and made them into proper paths, so they need to be checked now.”
Throughout the winter he will go on the fells two or three times a week and this will increase to four or five times in the summer.
There are 214 fells to be checked but Clive believes there are 750 different ways up and down, which will all need to be looked at.
“Some of the paths will be visible from others so I won’t need to ascend or descend all 750.
“And I’m hoping other people will send in their revisions that will help me.
“But I know there’s a lot of work to be done so I’m just getting on and doing it!”
Clive’s love affair with the Lake District began in 1965 when he first read Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons at the age of nine.
Three years later, after much begging, he persuaded his parents to bring him on holiday to the Newlands Valley.
On that seminal holiday he climbed his first fell — Catbells — and bought his first Wainwright. And he was hooked.
“I managed to find my way back to the Lakes for the next two summers,” he laughs. “You never stop going back, as they say.”
Although he has worked on newspapers elsewhere in the country, including a long stint as editor of the Northamptonshire Chronicle, he has now settled in the Lakes.
And in 2012 he wrote and had published ‘The Wainwright Companion’, a fact-filled guide to the books that only a true Wainwright fan could have written.
“That was a book that I was able to put my own personality into,” he adds. “But I don’t want to put my own personality on the revised Wainwrights. That’s not the point of it.”
Clive is now hoping other fell walkers will send in their own revisions, which will be credited in the book. Suggestions should be sent to him via Facebook. Search for ‘Clive Hutchby’ at www.facebook.com to find him.