[Not] The End of Wainwright Bagging

One of us in our house [and its not me] has completed his Wainwright fells! Although we have been walking up Lake District hills together since the 1980s, he didn’t start determinedly ticking off his 214 Lake District Wainwrights until 1998. It was one of those significant birthdays that inspired him to begin and the team [in the photograph above] climbed the Old Man of Coniston to celebrate his 40th birthday, marking the beginning of his Wainwright journey.

The Old Man of Coniston was a strange hill to choose in some way as it was one we had already climbed together twice over the previous 15 years. It was, of course, because of the name and now it is our most climbed Wainwright as we go back every ten years on my partner’s significant birthdays and follow one of the many routes up this much-loved mountain. His birthday is at the end of winter and although we were lucky to have fine weather when he was 40, the photograph of the small select group of us on the summit when he was 50 shows a different side of the mountain. Only our son and daughter-in-law and our toughest friends wanted to climb the Old Man on a cold damp day and looking at the photographs you can hardly make out any of us for the low cloud and layers of waterproofs! For his 60th we decided to be sociable and moved his birthday hill walk to June and we were rewarded with a fine sunny day with a bevy of friends.

Unless you are a very organised Wainwright Bagger, as you get to the end of your Wainwright list you will have random hills dotted around the Lake District to walk up [or maybe this is just us]. Our visits to the Lake District became dominated by walks up these outlying fells and others that we had somehow missed on previous trips. Our climbs up, down and around the Wainwrights have perhaps sometimes missed the obvious and most efficient routes and I can often be heard saying, ‘Why didn’t we walk up this hill when we were there,’ as I point to the next pimple along the ridge. This habit of almost climbing the Wainwrights one at a time will be why we have also walked up and down Fairfield more times than I can count. As well as being a fine hill, Fairfield [above Ambleside] is often on the way to another summit. Keen Wainwright Baggers will complete the handful of fells around Fairfield in one long and tiring day. We go up and down again and again! Fortunately, it doesn’t matter how many times we visit I will never tire of the Lake District fells.

Those energetic hill walkers will probably climb two fells, Hopegill Head and Whiteside above Crummock Water during the same day as they are bagging Grasmoor and maybe some other surrounding hills. For whatever reason we hadn’t done this. It might be laziness but no matter, it just means that we had another glorious day walking in this area that was particularly special after several days of heavy rain.

We have set off up the small hill called Outerside above Braithwaite previously. On that day, a couple of winters ago the slight breeze in the valley became a gale force wind that made standing up almost impossible as we ascended and we were forced onto a low-level walk instead. Our second attempt at Outerside was on a sunny autumnal day and we enjoyed a relative easy day on the hills which was appreciated after the steep slopes of Hopegill Head and Whiteside the day before. Outerside was his 208th [out of 214] Wainwright.

On the same trip we also climbed up Haystacks from Buttermere for a second or third time. Haystacks is one of those fells I imagine we will climb again and again now his Wainwright list is complete and doesn’t dictate where we go as, even on a wet day, I was pleased to revisit this wonderful craggy hill.

Two years ago we set off up Froswick, an odd hill on a ridge that was still unticked. It was winter and Froswick had other ideas and in deep snow and strong winds we had to turn back. We finally ascended this fine hill in January this year. It was still cold, I was still wearing as many layers as a human can but the wind stayed away and we had a glorious day out [see the photograph at the end of this post].

His big finish was a fantastic hillwalking day on two neighbouring fells in western Ennerdale, Great Bourne and Starling Dodd.  Starling Dodd was Wainwright’s last fell for the final volume of the Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. He descended it in September 1965 with mixed emotions. That this was my partners final Wainwright on his list wasn’t planned but it felt so right. It was a clear and breezy day but there was no fanfare on Starling Dodd just big smiles. We had views across the Lake District and we reminisced about some of our favourite days on the hills. We hugged each other, took photos and texted our son. Walking back through the woodland by Ennerdale the sun came out and made the day even more perfect.

It seems our Wainwright Bagging days won’t quite be over after that final hill-top Wainwright-completion-bash. Since retirement we have climbed the Wainwrights together but before 2017 there were quite a few of the fells that I dodged, either because I had work commitments or just couldn’t be bothered to detour to. These 20 Wainwrights have now become a list and apparently our Lake District hillwalking will continue to be at least in part dictated by Alfred Wainwright until they have all been completed! Onward and upward as they say!

Author: Back on the Road Again Blog

I write two blogs, one about my travels in our campervan and living well and frugally and the second about the stories behind the people commemorated in memorial benches.

14 thoughts on “[Not] The End of Wainwright Bagging”

  1. Congratulations! Bagging all those Wainwrights is a real achievement.
    I’m from Wainwright’s home town, Blackburn, and Ennerdale has a special place in my heart. As a child, I spent all school holidays and many weekends in a remote cottage at Gillerthwaite, which is now part of the Youth Hostel. I have climbed Starling Dodd and Great Bourne more times than I care to mention! Haystacks was Wainwright’s favourite hill, I believe.
    Like you, I will never tire of those hills!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I didn’t realise you were a Blackburn lass. Ennerdale is a special place. I’ve never stayed (or worked) at the youth hostel there but now I’ve had a look at it I want to! By the way – I have left comments on quite a few posts on your blog but they seem to disappear when I look back for my words of wisdom!!! I just wondered if it is putting me into spam?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ennerdale is such a beautiful place. There’s the hostel at Gillerthwaite, from where you can easily access so many of the lovely peaks. You’re straight up Red Pike and Starling Dodd.
        Black Sail is also rather special. It’s so remote, but then you can hop up Pillar and Steeple, or Green and Great Gable – or lovely Haystacks! When I stayed in Ennerdale, I used to ride a pony over Scarth Gap into the next valley, as it was the quickest route to an ice cream shop!
        I will check what’s happening to your comments. I’m sorry if you’ve been leaving them and they have disappeared. That’s no good!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve just commented (very short!) on your Malta post. I changed the settings from my WordPress login to my email. My ‘like’ is there (this comes up as Memorial Bench Stories) which was my first WordPress blog. At the moment my comment has disappeared but I don’t know if you have to approve them.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hi, I have checked my spam, but you’re not in there. It was a revelation, though! Thank goodness for Akismet, or my blog would be full of ‘nude camping’ and allsorts!
        I have looked in the comments and can’t find anything from you in the last 20 days or so. I haven’t gone back further. I can’t see a way of checking for comments from one particular blogger. I am at a loss 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi – I have checked the Malta blog and your ‘Like’ is definitely there, but no comment. I don’t moderate comments, as (thus far!) I haven’t had any trouble with spam – the filters have removed it. I will contact ‘Help’ and see if they can shed any light on it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Aha! I just found your comment in spam, so I have approved it! I will try and work out how to pre-approve you if that’s what it takes!
    I am so sorry. TBH I didn’t really know about the spam folder, but what was in there truly was spam!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 Maybe it will learn that my spam is not spam! Thank you so much for sorting this. I think I was a bit miffed that you weren’t replying to any of my comments until I realised my comments were disappearing! I didn’t really think you would be so rude 🙂 I go through my spam folder every now and then and just check, as occasionally something real is there but mostly it is rubbish. I delete the rubbish to keep it clear.

      Liked by 1 person

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