What are the Wainwrights?
The Wainwrights are a classification of fell in the Lake District. They are named after Alfred Wainwright, a fell walker and guidebook writer who produced a set of guides entitled Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, of which there are seven books. He used a romantic, rather than mathematical, classification system for determining the 214 fells, which range in height from 978ft to 3,209ft. It is believed he selected them for their beauty and drama, rather than just their height.
What inspired me to climb them?
I began bagging them by accident! I decided to climb the 10 highest mountains in England and once I'd done that, I just didn’t want to stop. I'd been drawn in by the beauty of the Lake District and didn't want to leave it there. A friend of mine had climbed all of the Wainwrights over a number of years and suggested I kept a tally. As a naturally competitive person who also loves the outdoors, I was soon obsessed with ticking off new Wainwrights as often as I could. I began designing my own routes and driving the 300-mile round-trip to the Lake District from my home in South Yorkshire on a weekly basis to make the most of every weekend. Luckily the summer of 2018 was an absolute corker and the cloud-free summits were magical.
How long did it take?
I stood on the top of my first Wainwright (Great End) on 23rd September 2017 and I summited my last (Pavey Ark) on 22nd September 2018, so the Wainwrights took me exactly 1 year to complete. I climbed them all during my days off from work as a busy public sector IT Programme Manager. Wild camping during multi-day routes enabled me to get through the list as fast as possible. June 2018 was my most active month by far, I ticked off 52 Wainwrights that month.
What was the most challenging part?
The most physically and mentally challenging part was my winter ascent of a mountain called Blencathra via a ridge called Sharp Edge. I was new to winter mountaineering and two experienced friends were just the encouragement and support I needed to complete the route in snow and ice. The beauty of the Wainwrights is that you can make it as hard or as easy as you like. All of the Wainwrights are walkable without any technical climbing experience, but you can seek out the more difficult approaches if you want a bigger challenge.
What did I learn?
During my challenge, I learned to share my love of the outdoors with other like-minded people. I opened up the majority of my trips as 'Instameets' and made multiple new friends in the process who crowned me the #InstagramSocialSecretary. I completed only 30 Wainwrights alone, but these fells were just as special because I enjoyed the tranquillity and solitude.
What's the next challenge?
My next challenge is to climb the Munro mountains in Scotland during the summer of 2019. There are 282 Munros with a height of over 3,000ft on my hit list. Following this I will embark on a thru-hike, starting at the most northerly point of New Zealand and walking 3,000km to the most southerly point, carrying everything I need in my backpack.
What’s in my kit bag?
Salomon produces a variety of apparel and footwear to kit out the budding female adventurer from head to toe.
My Salomon Women's Quest 4d 3 Gtx® Boots have been a perfect partner on my challenges. Sturdy enough to give me stability on a rocky scramble, but with maximum comfort and no hotspots when worn day after day. On the days when speed is important, I used my X Ultra 3 GTX shoes. Great grip and comfort, but lighter than a boot.
My Salomon Drifter Loft Hoodie has Primaloft insulation and is hugely versatile as it is reversible. It's like two jackets in one. It has the warming qualities of real down, whilst being quick drying and packs small and it also makes a great pillow when wild camping. Another great reversible garment is the Drifter Air Mid Hoodie, great for layering in the mountains.
I use the Out Week 38+6 backpack for lightweight backpacking. It's the perfect size for multi-day bivvy adventures in the fells. The lid is removable meaning that you can reduce the total capacity for shorter trips.
The Salomon Outspeed Pant is a great product for ensuring freedom of movement. With good protection against both the sun and rain, they are the perfect trouser for any outdoor adventure.