The first 50 Wainwrights – a retrospective

Having most recently looked back on the highlights and lowlights of our first 100 Munros, it seemed appropriate to also look back on the first 50 Wainwrights. I’m not sure yet whether I have any intention of finishing the lot – albeit for different reasons than why I don’t think I will finish the Munros; in the case of the Wainwrights it’s because some of them don’t particularly ‘grab’ me rather than because any of them seem particularly difficult or scary. Indeed Wainwright himself is quite scathing about some of the fells: Thunacar Knott in particular springs to mind out of the fells I have done, and Armboth Fell and Mungrisdale Common out of the ones I haven’t. (Which will leave me with an interesting dilemma as to whether to bother doing the latter when I finally get around to doing Blencathra, one of the classics that I have yet to do).

There have been a lot of good days on the Wainwrights so far and relatively few bad ones. One of the great things about Wainwrights compared to Munros is that they don’t have any height criteria and therefore it is a lot easier to pick a hill for a marginal day. If the clag is resolutely sitting at 500m then no problem, do something like Walla Crag or Silver How and get the views anyway! I hate walking in clag and although I do it from time to time I would far rather get a view. The whole point of taking up hill/ fell walking as a hobby in the first place was to get the views, after all.

My favourite days on the Wainwrights are quite hard to pick but in no particular order I would say the ‘top five’ are:

Helvellyn via Striding Edge: an absolute classic walk and I got a glorious day for it too.

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Pike of Blisco and Crinkle Crags: done on a glorious autumn day with Stuart and two friends. Stunning views though I did dodge out of doing the ‘bad step’.

crinkle crags

Coniston Old Man: done on a crisp April day, with patches of snow still on the fells. Glorious views and excellent walking though we bailed on doing Wetherlam due to the path being banked out with snow. Never mind, it’s a good excuse to go back!

coniston old man

The Fairfield Horseshoe: an absolutely classic round although for some inexplicable reason I managed to miss out Low Pike. Stuart wasn’t there for this one, so I will happily repeat this (and not just to tick off Low Pike!)

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Haystacks: it was our first, and a classic, on a marginal day (not helped by a Glenfarclas induced hangover). A nice introduction to the Lake District on one of AW’s favourite fells.

haystacks4

And the lowlights? To be honest there have been relatively few. Ironically my least favourite fell was actually the 50th, as I found Holme Fell a boggy mess from start to finish (though I quite liked Black Fell). Definitely not one I will go back to! I also found Loughrigg a bit annoying because of all the false summits, though the views were terrific which rather redeemed it. I didn’t think the Dodds were all that inspiring either, though  I liked the other hills I did on that walk (White Side and Raise) mainly due to the views of Helvellyn.

helvellyn 1

I’ve also not yet got to do some of the fells I would have liked to have done already – for instance Scafell Pike and Blencathra (for some reason whenever I am in Keswick I seem to end up doing something else). But they aren’t going anywhere.. something to look forward to!

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5 thoughts on “The first 50 Wainwrights – a retrospective

  1. Have to agree about Holme Fell, did it in August and it was boggy then!!! Thunacar is ok, especially as Pavey Ark/Harrison Stickle is so close by. I loved Crinkle Crags and Bowfell as a mountain experience, Fairfield Horseshoe was amazing also. I also would add in little walks such a Barrow from Braithwaite, such as easy walk and so much reward (quieter than Catbells to boot!!) and the much maligned Sallows. Stunning autumn weather, great views to the Scafells and a fab way up the Garburn Pass. I’m on 59 I think now and like you have Blencathra to do. Trying to save some of the better ones until later in the list to keep the interest high.

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  2. Definitely do Mungrisedale Common as a descent from Blencathra – I’m sure that was the ‘joke’ Wainwright he included anyway. I actually did that one on it’s own the first time crossing the valley from Great Calva and adding it in – now that is a really boring way to do it!

    I think the good thing about the Wainwrights is that they’re very close together and so you can bag the boring ones en-route between more interesting ones. If you didn’t fancy the Fairfield Horseshoe again (I don’t think I’d ever do it again as I hated it), you could do my more usual one – the Scandale Round. That way you do the High Pike/Low Pike ridge and Dove Crag, descend to Scandale Pass and go up Red Screes. From there it’s a lovely long ridge descent back to Ambleside.

    When I started re-doing Wainwrights to take Richard up them all, I kept thinking such and such a hill would be boring but we usually ended up having great days out on them.

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    • We meant to do the Scandale circuit when we did Red Screes in May, but ran out of water on a baking hot day and bailed after Little Hart Crag. Tbh I don’t mind doing the Fairfield Horseshoe again as I really enjoyed it – curious as to why you hated it?

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      • I just found it pretty boring compared to horseshoes like the Kentmere Round (my favourite) and the Coledale round. Also, I think it was probably too busy even for me on the Fairfield Horseshoe – I don’t mind people on hills in moderation.

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