Tag Archives: Wainwright

Twenty three before tea

8th July 2019

Twenty three Wainwrights and back in time for tea…could this be the new challenge for fellwalkers and runners?

When we published our map of Wainwrights within reach of the hostel, after Paul Tierney’s record-breaking run round ALL of them, our list of 23 caught the imagination of many Lakes lovers on social media.

Not content with eyeing-up the list for eventual completion – and it IS a rather random list, based on an oblong area of the map with our hostel at the centre – they started discussing how the 23 tops could be linked together to form a new challenge.

The consensus was that the tops could best be divided into two loops, returning at lunchtime to the hostel for a break after loop one before setting off on the second.

Have a hearty breakfast at the hostel and be back in time for tea!

Loop one would be:

  • Sergeant Man
  • Thunacar Knott
  • Pavey Ark
  • Harrison Stickle
  • Pike o Stickle
  • Loft Crag
  • Pike o Blisco
  • Lingmoor
  • Black Fell
  • Holme Fell
  • Wetherlam
  • Swirl How
  • Great Carrs

And loop two would be:

  • Helm Crag
  • Tarn Crag
  • Blea Rigg
  • Silver How
  • Loughrigg
  • Nab Scar
  • Heron Pike
  • Stone Arthur
  • High Pike
  • Low Pike

It’s illogical, perhaps, to omit the rest of the Fairfield Horseshoe, or the Old Man of Coniston, but if we stepped back to photograph the map and include those, then Elterwater moves from the centre. So for now, until someone tries it, that’s the list as we originally published it.

Online discussion then centred on a name for the challenge. The Elterwater Endeavour and the Elterwander were among the suggestions, but our favourite is “23 before tea”, with its implication that ALL could, perhaps, be done in a day. And when someone DOES have a go, we shall most certainly have the kettle on for tea when you get back.

So now we hand the challenge over to you. Try it out. Test each loop, or test the summits in your own favoured order, and then let us know. What time did it take? What was the total mileage? Did you have fun? And do you take sugar in your tea?

Paul Tierney’s new record for completing all the Wainwrights in the Lake District has captured the attention of the world. (BBC news / ITV news)

It’s a remarkable new record, six days six hours and five minutes to run over 214 Lakeland fells, breaking Steve Birkinshaw’s record by seven hours.

We took a photo of the map that Tierney’s support team was using during his challenge, a map specially created for them by Harvey Maps based on Birkinshaw’s route. The photo placed Elterwater at its centre, and then we traced the route lines to the south, west, north and north east, and listed the summits within that box.

The map with Elterwater at the centre
Paul Tierney in Langdale during his epic run: our route will take you to the head of this valley

Walkers who carry the Wainwright bible

13th September 2018

There’s a bible that many of our visitors carry with them on the fells, and that will be one of the Wainwright guides.

It’s a good analogy because the guidebooks have sold in biblical proportions, more than two million of them since the first of the seven-book Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells series was published in 1955.

Wainwright map

Map of the Wainwright summits

Visiting all 214 Wainwrights is a common form of peak bagging. They are one man’s personal choice of mountains over 1000ft in height, and while there are other lists – our neighbour Bill Birkett has 541 of them, which ultra-devotees set out to tick off – doing the Wainwrights has become part of our language here.


So it was with great pleasure that we recently welcomed Mark Richards to stay here at Elterwater Hostel. Mark was a great friend of Wainwright and is author of his own Fellranger guides. One of our staff team, Pete Savin, was walking a route with him for his guidebook update.

Mark Richards

Mark Richards

“I have very fond memories of AW, his passion for fish and chips, his enthusiasm for new projects, an ‘infection’ we shared. We even started planning a joint guide to the (Welsh) Cambrian Way,” Mark says. But as the older man’s ability to walk was faltering, he concentrated instead on a book of Scottish Mountain Drawings. Mark developed his own series of guides and many other books including Great Mountain Days in the Lake District.

There are registers kept by the Long Distance Walkers Association and the  Wainwright Society of completers, but many more people just do it for the love of the hills and their own sense of satisfaction. Some are more beloved than others; everyone is fond of Catbells and Haystacks, but few will find a kind word to say about boggy Armboth Fell.

The first continuous round of all 214 Wainwrights was completed by Alan Heaton of Clayton le  Moors Harriers, a running club in Lancashire, between 29 June and 8 July 1985 starting and finishing at Keswick Moot Hall, with a total time of 9 days and 16 hours. Joss Naylor set a new record of 7 days 1 hour between 26 June and 2 July 1986. This was beaten by Steve Birkinshaw between 14 and 20 June 2014, who completed the round in 6 days and 13 hours.

Alfred Wainwright lived and worked in Kendal for most his life but he was born into a working class family in the Lancashire mill town of Blackburn and experienced the difficult times of the 1920s and 30s. Being a bright lad, however, he worked hard at improving his position, taking night school classes and later correspondence courses to qualify as a local government accountant. This eventually enabled him in 1941 to obtain a position in the council office in Kendal, just where he had wanted to be since taking a holiday with a cousin walking in the Lake District .

Langdale Pikes

The Langdale Pikes, favourites of Wainwright-baggers

After his move to Kendal walking in the Lakeland fells occupied as much of his spare time as possible, becoming his obsession. His view of the Lake District is clearly expressed in the opening sentence of his first guide: “Surely there is no other place in this whole wonderful world quite like Lakeland.”

We won’t argue with that.