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Walking guide's new book puts Wainwright back on the map
MILLIONS of walkers have followed in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright through his guide books, from the peaks of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales to the stretches of the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast treks.
Now his devotees, and new fans alike, can literally follow where he went as a new book reveals the journey he took in life from his birthplace in Blackburn to his final resting spot on Haystacks.
Nick Burton, who is a walk leader for the town council in Blackburn spent a year putting together Wainwright’s Way, a complete guide covering a 10-day, 126-mile long route, and including illustrations by AW himself.
It charts the journey he made from a mill town terraced house to the open fells, and to where his ashes were finally scattered on his most beloved peak.
His book also examines some of the history and best known characters of the landscapes the route passes through.
“I did a walk around Blackburn for the centenary of AW’s birth in 2007,” he said.
“A guy turned up with an old walking book he said AW used to use for his rambles and it made me think about what he did in his early days.
“Nobody has done a walk covering the places where he was born and brought up to the where his ashes were scattered, and everything that was in between.”
Mr Burton said the key to the book being successful was the use of AW’s own sketches, including ones which are not seen as often as his more popular Lakeland images.
“I approached Frances Lincoln, which publishes the pictorial guides and they liked the idea straight away so let me use the sketches,” he said.
“There isn’t much in Lancashire and Westmorland he didn’t cover in a sketch. And he covered just about every mile of the Lake District.
“I also thought it would be nice to have walks round Kendal and Blackburn to show where he lived.
“There are valley alternatives for people who don’t fancy the more strenuous parts, but it is not a difficult route in all. And you can easily break it up into smaller chunks if you don’t want to do it all in one go.”
The author has penned six other walking guides, covering pub and village strolls around Lancashire and Greater Manchester, and said he was keen to write a book about AW because of his own connections to the fellwalker.
“Working for the same authority, I have been into his office and led walks on the same routes he took around the town. He would go off with his mates from the town hall and once you get climbing out of Blackburn you can see for miles.
“AW’s first view of the Lake District would have been climbing the moors around Blackburn. I think sometimes people forget that he lived the first 34 years of his life in Blackburn and a lot of his walks cover Lancashire, though they don’t know of them as well as his ones in the Lakes.
“In the end it all came together nicely and the book has been given the thumbs up by AW’s nephew Jack Fish who is 86. He said he enjoyed reading it.”
Wainwright’s Way by Nick Burton, £13.99, is available from local bookshops. ISBN 978-0-7112-3321-8