Journey into past offers homage to Wainwright

IT was the year before the outbreak of the Second World War and the same one in which Yorkshire cricketer Len Hutton set a new world record individual Test score playing for England against Australia at the Oval.

The year 1938 also saw Alfred Wainwright complete his epic Pennine journey through the Dales to Cumbria and Northumberland's border with Scotland and back to Settle.

Now, 70 years later, a devotee of the late fell walker's journey wants to immortalise in print some of the people and places of Wainwright's walk.

Andrew Lambert, who completed the 200-mile round trip 10 years ago, is appealing for help from people to produce a pocket guide which he hopes will enrich the bare bones of the journey with anecdotes and details of the places where Wainwright stopped along his way.

The 51-year-old financial adviser said: "The idea is that this does not tell us where to go – it tells us where we have been. It's trying to give another dimension to a guide.

"I think people who now may be 90 will remember just what was happening before the war. I believe that gas masks had already been issued and evacuation was being discussed. I hope to get a flavour of people being able to remember when society was going through something that it has not been through since. Wainwright mentioned the war a lot and I think that's what he wanted to get away from."

Alfred Wainwright, who died aged 84 in 1991, is famous for his pictorial guides to the Lakeland fells which he compiled between 1952 and 1966.

The handwritten and hand-drawn works of art have inspired several generations of fell walkers.

His account, A Pennine Journey, which was never intended to be a walkers' guide, was published some years after Wainwright, then 31, embarked on the walk which took him to Hadrian's Wall and back.

Mr Lambert, who lives in Ilkley, hopes that his guide will offer a new dimension to the journey, beyond its geography.

He said: "This is based on the idea that the geography is easy. The idea of this is to look at the history and try to contrast it and use anecdotal evidence from the 1930s.

"Wainwright was 31 in 1938 when he did the walk and some of the people who were around during that time could be still alive. I want to do this before those people die out.

"For example, Wainwright stayed at the Kirk Inn in Romaldkirk. He was the only customer all night and he talks about the sound of a ticking clock and how it was a sad place.

"I spoke to someone who knew of his berating of the Kirk Inn who said the account was unfair because the husband of the woman there had died not long before he turned up – which would explain the sadness. That's the sort of history I hope to include. It is not just about the geography; let's look at the social history of the places en route as a point of interest.

"In Soulby, he stayed at a pub I believe was called the Black Bull which was demolished in the 1960s.

"He had gone there in late September and arrived there on the day of a harvest festival. I arrived there on the same day and people were still doing the same thing and fundraising in the church hall."

When Mr Lambert visited Buckden, he learned that a

farm had a historical connection with Bradford-born writer, JB Priestley, who had stayed at one of the local farms for several days.

He said: "This would not be so interesting but for the fact that he had already died when he stayed. He had a desire for his remains to be interred at the church at Hubberholme but as his remains were transported it became apparent that the requisite paperwork had not been completed so he had a posthumous short break in Wharfedale. Although this relates to 1984, it illustrated to me the benefit of having relevant asides as part of the overall account."

He has set up a website – www.penninejourney.blogspot.com – and is inviting people to use it to contribute anecdotes and historical details about the places associated with the route.