Fans of the Grumpy Old Fellwalker gathered yesterday in the distinctly un-outdoors Blackburn Cathedral to celebrate the centenary of his birth.

As his sometime walking companion, broadcaster Eric Robson, said in his address to the gathered acolytes of Alfred Wainwright: “Even though AW would rather be on the hill than in the pew it’s appropriate that we should be celebrating his life in this cathedral church in Blackburn.”

The ceremony marked the anniversary of the compiler of probably the best known walking guides produced in England, Wainwright’s meticulously illustrated Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. His legacy is a remarkable set of opinionated descriptions of upland Britain, peppered with his acerbic observations, yet still readable and relevant despite changes to many of the places he wrote about and drew.

Robson said of the reclusive author: “He had a vision, articulated in his books, of a sort of spiritual bond between man and landscape that’s writ large across the Lakeland fells.

“He knew that he wasn’t describing a wilderness. He knew that the fingerprints of man were all over it. He knew that the mountains of Lakeland were capable of speaking down the generations of spirit and soul and redemption.”

Wainwright was also a founder member of the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Club. He died in 1991. His guides are currently being republished with updates to take account of changes on the ground since he wrote them.