214 Wainwrights, the slow way

'Climbing all these fells in my own time has been an absolute joy...'

WORDS & IMAGES BY ALI P (@girlabout.thelakedistrict)

When I moved to the Lake District there were a few things I wanted to do. More swimming, more camping and... finish walking all The Wainwrights. 

Some take a lifetime to walk the 214 fells made famous by Alfred Wainwright. Others complete all 214 in under a week. 5 days was never a goal for me, neither was 5 months! In fact it's been 5 years since I moved I've just about done it...

Taking my time and ticking of each fell the slow way has been an absolute joy. Some have been walked on with friends, some with family, some with dogs. Others have been solo or with my other half, Ian.

Mellbreak has always been a favourite as I walk it with my family every year. It's a brilliant circular route that has a great cafe in the middle - Sykes Farm - and a fantastic pub at the end - Kirkstile Inn. The views from the top of Melbreak, down the valley to Crummock and Buttermere are stunning. A completely underrated fell. 

I am a creature who loves company so I find the solo walks a lot more challenging. I don’t see my own company as entertaining, even if I am a constant fool...

My solo walks have included run-ins with cows, many wrong turns and once making friends with a group of gentlemen on top of Helvellyn; they spotted me looking for someone to take a picture with the trig point. We shared snacks before going our separate ways and they all said they would tell their wives about me walking up Helvellyn on my own!

"I’ve eaten a curry up there, read books, witnessed a proposal and had a few little cries too. It’s one of the best views in The National Park..."

On other walks I’ve done on my own I have come up with projects that are now realities, befriended families and met people I'm still in touch with now.

I'm lucky to live in Keswick and be able to pick good weather days but they weren't all sun and blue skies. A winter ascent of Helvellyn ended with us backing off Striding Edge, getting back down out of the wind and learning how to build an igloo with my cousin Rob instead.

I couldn’t talk about my Wainwrights round without mentioning Latrigg, my local fell which I've but up many times and done many handstands on. I’ve eaten a curry up there - courtesy of the Fell Foodie - read books, witnessed a proposal and had a few little cries too. It’s one of the best views in The National Park and I can point out my house from the infamous bench that overlooks Keswick and Borrowdale.  

Lots of people ask me what my favourite is and some do stand out. Loughrigg is small but stunning (and possibly my first one but you’d have to ask my Dad about that) and Grisedale Pike was the first I did on my own. Blencathra was a perfect wild camp with stunning sunrise and sunset. I hated walking up Pillar but the views were worth it. Ian and I fell asleep on Pavey Ark for an hour or so after coming up Jacks Rake.

The last one was Raven Crag, a few weeks ago. Sharing a tiny bottle of Aldi proessco up there felt fitting!

Maybe I’ll do my next round of Wainwrights quickly or maybe I’ll never do it again. I am always inspired by runners like John Kelly & Sabrina Verjee as well as hikers like Nic Hardy. All 214 have been a joy, or I’ve blocked out all the bad bits. Cheers to doing The Wainwrights the slow way.


P.s. Big up to Ian for finishing his at the same time, putting up with me moaning when my knees hurt and making sure I remember my god-damn poles!


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