The woman who became Alfred Wainwright’s fellwalking companion in his later life has died.
Haystacks, Wainwright's final resting place
Betty Wainwright, the renowned author’s second wife, died on Wednesday at her home in Burneside, near Kendal. She had been ill for some time.
Wainwright married Betty McNally in 1970 after his first marriage to Ruth had broken up. A non-driver, he relied on Betty to chauffer him around the Lakes and the Yorkshire Dales in order for him to compile his later books.
He had feared scandal might encompass his seemingly upright life as a municipal treasurer when he fell for the woman who would later become his wife and engineered a first meeting with her which almost went disastrously wrong when the young man he had persuaded to accompany them on their fellwalking trip innocently fell in love with Betty and proposed to her.
The relationship with the Grumpy Old Fellwalker, author of the acclaimed, hand-written illustrated pictorial guides to the Lakeland Fells and instigator of the Coast-to-Coast Walk, blossomed and endured, and it was Betty who, following his death, carried his ashes to the top of Haystacks, overlooking Buttermere, to scatter them on his favourite fell.
Together, they supported the Kapellan animal sanctuary in his adopted town of Kendal and his considerable legacy all went to the charity, leaving his son Peter, by his first marriage, out of the will.
The reproduction rights to his guides were bought from his widow by Frances Lincoln and they were republished, creating a new generation of fans for his immensely detailed and opinionated fellwalking bibles.
Betty Wainwright suffered a stroke in 2004 but she recovered a little and lent support to the formation of the Wainwright Society, which promotes the writer’s works. She died, surrounded by her family, on 20 August.
A private funeral service is planned next week, but the Wainwright Society hopes to hold a memorial service to the lives of Mrs Wainwright and her late husband in the near future.