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A Love Letter To The Lakeland Fells | George Fisher

Written by George Fisher


Love the Fells Wainwright Exhibition - Keswick MuseumAlfred Wainwright first ‘stood transfixed’ by the Lakeland fells on Orrest Head, Windermere in 1930. He was 23, and taking his first holiday from Blackburn in Lancashire. This transformational moment resulted eventually in seven fabulous Pictorial Guides to the Lake District. To mark the 60th anniversary of the publication of Wainwright’s first guide, Keswick Museum has a special exhibition running from 23 May to 8 November 2015.

Wainwright felt passionately about the Lake District and thought of his work as honouring the area. His Introduction to ‘A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, Book One’, published in 1955 said; “This book is one man’s way of expressing his devotion to Lakeland’s friendly hills... It is, in very truth, a love-letter.”

Since then, Wainwright’s guides have continued to inspire millions to explore the area each year, and to return again and again. As Wainwright put it, “All who truly love Lakeland are exiles when away from it.”

The exhibition uses archives, original artefacts, film and interactive exhibits to recreate Wainwright’s early life, revealing his unique drawing and mapping methods, and exploring the challenge he has left us – to preserve the fells whilst exploring the 214 ‘Wainwrights’.

The museum is working with Kendal Archive Centre, which has recently acquired a large archive of his material as part of a Heritage Lottery Funded project. The exhibition features original drawings, letters and manuscripts from this collection.

Visitors will be able to

  • Explore AW's life through film, archives and his possessions
  • Share the awe of his first fell-top moment
  • Fly round all the Wainwrights in ten minutes in the museum’s mini cinema
  • Get immersed in an interactive Wainwright map
  • Get to grips with Wainwright’s creative methods
  • See original Wainwright drawings and his possessions
  • Find out what made Wainwright’s guides so special

Remember your first trip to the Lakes? You can contribute your own #wainwrightmoment to the exhibition via Twitter, telling the story of the moment you woke up to the magnificence of the Lakeland Fells. See Julia Bradbury’s #wainwrightmoment on Facebook’s ‘Wainwright in Keswick’ page and be inspired to add yours!

Tony Lywood, KMAG Trustee and part of the team behind the project, is delighted that so many partners have been keen to join in: "From those who hold material such as the Wainwright Estate and Kendal Archives and those volunteering to help develop the exhibits to those sponsoring the exhibition, everybody has been keen to lend their support. This really is a great team effort."  You can even back the project via the crowd funding campaign on 'Indiegogo'. There will be hundreds of advanced tickets available and exciting perks including paragliding or gyroplane trips, photography tuition, expert guided walks or runs, all centred on Wainwright’s Lakedistrict Fells – go to

Cover photo: Alfred Wainwright, courtesy of Cumbria Archive Centre, Kendal