2450 NE01A wainwright Striding Edge Helvellyn.jpg
A pen and ink sketch by Alfred Wainwright took a record £10,200 in a timed auction held by 1818 Auctioneers of Milnthorpe.

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The 7 x 5in (18 x 12cm) depiction of mist on Striding Edge, Helvellyn was that used in Wainwright’s first guide book The Eastern Fells. Across the timed online sale closing on June 28, a total of 72 bids were made on the sketch before it was won by a Lancaster bidder.

“Wainwright wrote that mountain tops were places to refresh the soul, find new perspectives and banish worries and that’s particularly meaningful right now,” said saleroom manager Bill Nelson. “His depiction of the Lake District’s most talked-about ridge, Striding Edge, would tick all those boxes. It really does capture the essence of the mountain.”

Helvellyn, at 950 metres the Lake District’s third-highest peak, was given the most coverage in Wainwright’s first guidebook.

The drawing was one of three similarly-sized sketches by Wainwright in the sale, each estimated at £400-600. The two others, showing Doddick Gill, Blencathra (below) and Cul Mor, sold for £740 and £820 respectively – more typical sums for the artist-author’s work.


Alfred Wainwright’s drawing of Doddick Gill, Blencathra – £740 at 1818 Auctioneers.

Born in Blackburn in 1907, Wainwright made his first visit to the Lake District aged 23. A total contrast to his home surroundings, it was a love-at-first sight, life-changing moment.

About 10 years later, he came to work in Kendal and spent his spare time making monochrome drawings of the fells. His seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells is still considered the standard reference work on the subject.

AT H&H Auctions in Carlisle in 2012 one of Wainwright’s ledgers, full of notes in his neat handwriting style that were used for the first of these pictorial guides, sold at £8600 to the Wainwright Society.