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The art of fell walking by Howard Pattinson

TWhen fell-walking or fell-running my advice is, let the mountains come to you, do not try too hard. As you get fitter, and do more, it will get easier. The other thing, as Wainwright said ‘watch where you are putting your feet’!

Now to the ‘art’ bit. I have recently updated my website ‘Images of Lakeland’ (sourmilkgill.co.uk) and a number of the new images relate directly to fell-running and fell-walking. For me, creating the work and walking in the lakes are complementary. My hope is, that the work will intrigue you and will encourage you to explore the Lake District to see for yourself the sheer beauty of the place in its various moods.

I include two works to wet your appetite:

The Wainwright Challenge

All 214 Wainwrights in my seventieth year. Why? Because I thought I could and there were a few I had never done. Day 1 was in the Northern Fells: Dodd, Carl Side, Long Side, Ullock Pike, Skiddaw, Bakestall, Skiddaw Little Man, Lonscale Fell and Latrigg. A good start. I never tire of Skiddaw. With my son-in-law, Day 42 was in the Western Fells, finishing on Yewbarrow, the last peak in the last book. I can honestly say I enjoyed every moment of the challenge and would heartily recommend it, at any age. Memories to last a lifetime.

The simple image represents the seven Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. Using the colour wheel as a compass The Northern Fells, Book 5, is represented by the primary colour red, The Western Fells, Book 7, is the primary colour blue, etc. Three primary colours and three secondary colours for six books and the wheel’s pivotal colour black, for the Central Fells, Book 3.

When I look at the image I am reminded of the 42 walks it took me to complete the challenge.Two that spring to mind are, the white out conditions on Causey Pike, when I nearly lost Kathy, my partner (she never listens), and Pauline Fischer’s anxiety, (she always thinks I am going to leave her) while doing the west wall traverse on Scafell. 

The Night Section

At night, the Helvellyn range is more familiar to me than anywhere else in the Lake District. Dunmail to Threlkeld is the classic night section, on an anti-clockwise, 42 peaks, Bob Graham Round. The ideal weather, is a clear sky, which takes away the anxiety of navigation, and if you are on schedule, can make it celebratory and a real pleasure.

At 7am on Saturday 21 July 1990, I departed from the Moot Hall, Keswick to attempt to complete a round of 58 peaks in 24 hours including the Bob Graham Round. Having traversed 42 peaks I departed from Dunmail Raise to tackle ‘the night section’ to Threlkeld. We were lucky with the weather and everything went to plan. The final section over Blencathra, Great Calva and Skiddaw, brought me back to Keswick at 6.42am on Sunday 22 July. 

The typographic positioning of the fells, in chronological order seemed like a good solution. We were, literally walking south to north, in my case.

To encourage you all, I would be more than happy to donate £100 to club funds, and an image of your choice, to anyone who beats my round. I can supply you with a schedule!