Stat Counter

Friday, 16 July 2010

A Pennine Journey Worrif

073 penyghent fr fountains fell side day 7
I should explain what a “worrif” is before I begin. Worrif the sky fell in. Worrif one morning we all woke up and we’d turned into Chinese. (This doesn’t apply to those people who are already Chinese…) Worrif God made a mistake…
Worrif I did this Pennine Journey thing?
But first, a short debate.
For those who don’t know, which , no doubt will include many of my colonial readers and those who aren’t English,  there is a chap in English hillwalking called Alfred Wainwright (dec’d). AW, as he is often known, wrote and illustrated a fine set of guidebooks to the English Lake District which became very popular. He also did a guide to the Pennine Way and he made up a Coast to Coast walk which many people follow. He did the same thing for the Howgills and for the Yorkshire dales limestone country and, when he got famous, there were TV programmes and glossy coffee table books. He seems to have kept himself mainly to the North of England as far as walking is concerned, which is why I referred to him in terms of “English” hillwalking. He seems to have had no impact at all on Scottish or Welsh walking.
107 kisdon fr track to tan hill day 9
After Alf died, a group of people formed the “Wainwright Society” who’s aims seem to be to worship and promote “The Great Man”. This is the bit I have a problem with, not that it will bother anybody in the Wainwright Society. I suspect that one or two may be making a bit of money out of links with “The Great Man”, but mainly, they seem to be raising money for charity – which is good.
Now then. In 1938 AW walked to Hadrian’s Wall from Settle. the he walked back again by a different route. Then he wrote a book about it and, in true AW style, put it away and there it lay till he got a bit more famous at which point it was published. I got a copy for my birthday in 1987. Its an interesting book and the first half is well written. The second half seems a bit rushed to me…..
175 highshield crag hadrians wall day 16
But anyway, it was , perhaps, inevitable, that somebody at some point would make up a modernised version of the walk.
In this case David and Heather Pitt designed the walk and members of the Wainwright Society drew maps, walked the walk, and so on and now there’s a guide. Proceeds from the guide will go towards waymarking the route and the Great North Air Ambulance.
But what of the route?
I couldn’t order a copy of the book because the order form from the website is gibberish, but there’s enough information on the website to determine how the route goes.
Its not rocket science and much use is made of existing LDPs.
But you can look at the website and determine the route for yourselves.
blanchland with church
Walkers will find some parts of it horrendously busy – specially the Yorkshire Dales bits and Hadrian’s Wall. The Pennine way, which is used quite a lot, isn’t what it used to be as far as traffic is concerned and some parts – e.g. Weardale and the Western scarp of the Pennines could do with a few more pedestrian tourists.
I expect that some small businesses along the route will feel the benefit, and this seems to be one of the stated aims of the producers, though why this should animate them escapes me for the moment.
the incline
And - the aims of the WS have apparently been amended to include the following:
To foster and enhance AW’s standing on the field of long distance footpath walking.”  This strikes me as very odd indeed. It begs the “why?” question…. I really don’t get this. But I’ll leave that there – its nothing to do with me, really.
But, despite my reservations – as above, plus the places on the route which are busy enough already, and you could find better ways than those chosen in some places, and it doesn’t really follow AW’s route, but it gets fairly close…..   I’m strangely drawn to the idea and , well, worrif I had a go at it…
I might just do a local section. I could drink beer at the Hare and Hounds at half time. Maybe have me tea there….
Thats the worrif. Worrif I get hooked…..  Worrif I find myself applying for membership of the Wainwright Society and start smoking a pipe and grumbling at women……   nah……

The last one is the most important.


Martin Rye said...

Don't forget you would also have to eat lots of fish and chips and leave your money for the care of cats as well as smoke that pipe, and act like a grumpy old sod as soon as you see someone on the hill beside you. I mean write guide books and then get the hump because the hills are busy. What next!

When grumpy guts walked the Pennines lots traditional hay meadows still existed and rivers where clean and clear. In someways the walk based on the book would seem so different. Be a good route mind you. For the record I have the book but have yet to read it. I will leave you to work out my opinion on AW.

PS I remember 87. Well some of it as I was young and care free.

Mike Knipe said...

Crikey Martin, I hope you're feeling better after that...
I think you're mainly right, though, I share your

But we still have some nice flowery haymeadows in Teesdale and Weardale, not forgetting Hannah's meadows in Baldersdale....

One big difference is that Alf seemed to think nothing of knocking on a door and asking for a bed. You couldn't do that nowadays.

Martin Rye said...

A lot better Mike. Give grumpy...I mean AW his credit he was going light before we thought of it in the hills. He kipped out under the stars with a blanket. That and blagging free digs for the night. Light travel indeed, and light on the wallet. Hence the cats did rather well out of him.

Mike Knipe said...

He'd have been a lot more careful not to come across as socially incompetent nowadays. Like wot I do.....
But read the book, Martin - its well written but the grumpiness does shine through (if its possible for grumpiness to shine) when things weren't going well.

The Odyssee said...

I was going to comment here about AW but decided not to. We are all different characters. We don't have to go too far out of our ways to meet ones that we never want to meet again.
I think you could probably do a better route Mike. I would like to read the comments in the margins that i am sure would make us all chuckle.

I don't think AW's guidebooks have done more harm than anybody else's. And Wordsworth may have brought just as many people into the area.

Good post Mike, very interesting and thought provoking.

Mike Knipe said...

I can't blame AW for the popularity of the Lake District Fells, Alan. There's plenty of guide books about the Lakes. The difference is that AW's are almost definitive. If he hadn't done it, somebody else would have by now...
I don't object to AW at all - I have his guides here, but the post AW industry with AW worship is another thing entirely.

afootinthehills said...

As you say Mike, AW had little or no impact on Scottish walking. He did, however, produce 6 books -'Scottish Mountain Drawings'- covering the then 276 Munros.

I'm not going to comment on AW as a person (who cares?) or on his legacy. He wrote beautiful guide books (I bought them when they cost 90p each)and although I don't use them as guides I still get hours of pleasure just reading them.

As for anyone 'worshipping' him, well that's just absurd!

Laura said...

Sounds like a plan!

(word - 'unron' maybe like do-ron but less active)

Mike Knipe said...

Its "The Great Man" lable that rankles. I don't believe he would have enjoyed that or the existence of a Wainwright Society and I don't think its true either.....

afootinthehills said...

I think you are right on all counts Mike. Worthwhile post though.

Peter Burgess said...

I guess you have worked out the route of Pennine Journey, but it's published by Frances Lincoln at £13.99.
I'm helping to promote the route via Twitter: @penninejourney and Facebook: Pennine Journey Supporters' Club if you're interested. Feedback and information on the route will be really appreciated.

Mike Knipe said...

Whoa - where've you been, Peter? As it happens, though I am leading a walk in celebration of Unvcle Alf and hos Pennine book in September - arranged by the North Pennines AONB. It's from Tan Hill to Baldersdale. Be there or be square. Further and better partics will be released later by the AONB