Family outings, climbing England’s highest mountain and attempting to become a man!

27 May 1990: Family outings

Post 19: My confidence in walking was boosted by completing the Dales Way and I decided there was nothing like a family walk to enhance family unity; my son was aged nine and my daughter eight. On holiday in Wales, it seemed a good idea for the whole family to walk on the tourist route to the top of Snowdon at 3559 feet. This did not seem to be beyond us and there was always a train to catch at the top should it get too tiring. We parked the car in a lay-by near the lake, Llyn Peris, in the Llanberris Pass. In sweltering heat we ascended about 300 feet, at which point my wife and daughter decided fell walking was not for them; instead they had a picnic. However, my son was determined to bag his first summit and shot to the top of Snowdon, without hesitation or deviation. The ascent certainly left a great impression on him as he has hardly been over 2,000 feet since; maybe it was the appalling café at the summit which put him off. Perhaps this nine-year-old would have been inspired if Snowdon had not been like a littered fairground with hoards of tourists and empty Coca-Cola cartoons everywhere. Clearly family fell-walking was not likely to develop in this family.

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The railway line we followed
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Alastair near the summit.
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Alastair, my son, on the summit of Snowdon. 

My advice would be to avoid something as serious as Snowdon for your first family ascent. Attempt something like Cat Bells, near Keswick, in the Lake District; at half the height, it is more manageable.

21 October 1990: Success

Finally, completed the Scafell Pike traverse, England’s highest mountain with Alan and Archie. If you do not succeed on the first occasion go back and try again later.

20 January 1991

Alfred Wainwright passes away at the age of 84, having been born on 17 January 1907 in Blackburn. The most influential of all writers about the outdoors, he has inspired numerous individuals to take up walking and has spawned a multitude of authors about the outdoors, including myself. There is very little to be said about walking that AW has not commented on in one of his sixty-one books. His Pictorial Guides continue to be unique works of art and collectors items. There will never be another Alfred Wainwright. There is now a Wainwright Society with several hundred members and devotees.

21 January 1991

My 39th birthday, having been born in Burntwood, Staffordshire in 1952, the year Wainwright started his first Pictorial Guide, Book one: The Eastern Fells. Publication took place in May 1955.

March/April 1991: Alfred Wainwright’s A Coast to Coast Walk

Wainwright said of his Coast to Coast Walk that you start as a boy and finish as a man.

Who can argue with the genius of walking guides and fell-walking? Having completed the Dales Way as a novice, I was about to acquire my manhood. Most of my friends and colleagues thought I was mad leaving my wife and family for two weeks at the age of thirty-nine to walk one hundred and ninety two miles. In order to justify this escape from the routines of everyday life, I decided to link it to charity and raise money for the Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust in Scotland. People do all sorts of crazy things in the name of charity, from bungee jumping to walking 1,000 miles through Spain on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrim’s way.

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Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk

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