‘You’re a Lady, I’m a Man’ sang Peter Skellern in 1973. I too am a man, although musically I’m more of a Spencer Davis Group type, ‘I’m a man, yes I am’, although contrary to vocalist Stevie Winwood my pad is not very messy. We’ll get to the lady in a moment.
The man I’d really like to talk about today is Alfred Wainwright. Who among us has ‘Done the Wainwrights’? And if so, why? I should say at this stage I haven’t and probably never will, perhaps as an act of defiance and I’ll get round to telling you my reasons.
It’s been said many times, and yes I do accept that, doing the Wainwrights, gives you a sense of purpose, helps you plan and encourages you to discover and explore new places. The argument I often hear in favour of doing the Wainwrights is, “It takes you to places you might never have gone to”. Now this is where the lady comes in, because as well as taking you to places you might never have gone to, doing the Wainwrights, if you’re not careful, can prevent you from going to places you might otherwise have gone to.
How many of us have walked up Ladyside Pike? Already as I write this I hear my good friend Jeffrey screaming “Don’t tell them about Ladyside!” You see Ladyside Pike is a majestic little mountain and the views of Hobcarton Crag as you approach Hopegill Head are simply spectacular, and although Ladyside Pike is to Hopegill Head what Catbells is to Maiden Moor, it’s not a Wainwright. In fact Ladyside Pike is to Hopegill Head what Whiteside, a Wainwright, is to Hopegill Head for that matter. Take a look at OL4, you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Even without mention of lists, should I ask friends if they’ve walked over Ladyside Pike, more often than not I am told in a corrective tone, “It’s not a Wainwright”. In the words of Chrissie Hynde, ‘Don’t get me wrong’, I’m an admirer of A.W. and I’m quite sure his intention was never to create a mentality of only walking the Wainwrights. My criticism is not with Wainwright himself but with the interpretation of his work. He didn’t want us to just walk 214 fells. Thank heavens for Bill Birkett.
I have a friend ‘doing the Wainwrights’ at present, they are reserving Castle Crag till the end and why not, it’s a lovely little fell, but I think I’d be a lot happier for them if they’d make room for a lady just before the end!
I’m off back to Peter and his piano; ‘The things I have to say won’t wait until another day, (altogether now) you’re a lady …’