Celebrations of the centenary of the birth of Grumpy Old Fellwalker Alfred Wainwright will kick off not at the side of the tarn on Haystacks but, surprisingly, at the home of Blackburn Rovers.
And in case you’re wondering, that’s not the name of a rambling group in the Lancashire town, but the overpaid prancers who kick a ball around each week. Ewood Park is the venue chosen by the Wainwright Society to celebrate the life of the renowned author of the series of guides to the Lakeland fells.
As the society’s chairman Eric Robson explains, the happiest he ever saw Wainwright was when he was standing in the centre circle of the club’s pitch. In a revelation that has echoes of Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarns, Robson tells us that Alfred could recount the details of the Rovers’ cup-winning teams – even though it was in the 1880s! Move over Gordon Ottershaw and Barnstoneworth United, here comes Golden Alfred.
Wainwright spent his early life in Blackburn, and his job in the borough treasurer’s department was the stepping stone to his promotion to a more senior post in Kendal, then in Westmorland, that enabled him to start his books.
The Wainwright Society is planning an informal dinner at the football ground on Saturday, 20 January next year, with a cathedral service following its AGM the following day. A more fitting tribute is mooted by Peter Burgess, who intends leading a walk up Pendle Hill in Lancashire on the Saturday of the celebrations. Details are on the Wainwright Society’s website.