My name is Christopher Butterfield, I am a Yorkshireman currently living in Scotland with my wife Priscilla. I am a time served mechanical engineer by trade and if I am not fixing machines, I can be found hiking the Lakeland Fells.
I have been an outdoor enthusiast since leaving school and I started out by exploring much of the beautiful Yorkshire countryside on my doorstep. I lived near Hebden Bridge in my late teens and this is where I discovered the beautiful South Pennine hills. It was while exploring these hills that I stumbled across a trail called the Pennine Way. I promptly did my research on this fascinating walk, but I was quickly disheartened to hear that it was nearly 270 miles long. I could never find the time and money to walk a trail this long. Perhaps this was a dream I could never realistically fulfil after all?
In the intervening years, friends and work took centre stage of my life. I was still enjoying the outdoors, but only when I had the time. I planned my first trip to the Lake District at the age of 29. It was a return walk to Scafell Pike from Dungeon Ghyll, via Rossett Gill. I immediately fell in love with this landscape and started my own love affair with the Fells. I was always aware of this enigmatic Mr Wainwright, but my full appreciation of his genius had not yet hit me.
A few more years went by and I met a wonderful woman called Priscilla, who equally shared my passions, and we married in 2011.
My original ambition to walk the Pennine Way had never left me and 20 years on it was still an itch I had to scratch. In 2013, Priscilla and I walked it in 19 consecutive days and we enjoyed every step. We met some fabulous new friends en route, and while walking the Pennine Way we were fortunate enough to be interviewed on Belgium TV for a documentary based on Hadrian’s Wall. We had created memories from this journey to last a lifetime.
This encouraged us to walk Wainwright’s Coast to Coast in 2015. This route was pure genius, and I began my investigation into this Wainwright character. I studied – not read, his seven guides to the Lakeland Fells and they blew me away. Just how did he accomplish this amazing body of work? I was determined that 2016 would be the year I would start hunting down everything there was to know about Wainwright.
In my spare time for the last two years I have travelled thousands of miles around Great Britain and met many wonderful people who share the same Wainwright passion. I have become good friends with many authors, artists, presenters and other celebs in the Wainwright circle. This has led to me finding many untold stories and exclusive Wainwright material.
Andrew Nichol worked at the Westmorland Gazette in Kendal from 1969 till his retirement in 1992. Harry Firth was the works manager at the time and when he retired in 1982, Andrew took over the role. Andrew worked directly with Wainwright for nine years until Wainwright passed away in 1991. He played a large role in getting Wainwright to agree to publicity and was responsible for raising book sales from 24,000 in 1982 to 87,000 within five years. Andrew Nichol has become a very close friend of mine over the last couple of years and has shared with me a wealth of Wainwright knowledge.
Earlier this year (2018), my Wainwright hunt led me to a warehouse full of Wainwright books in Kendal including the ‘original’ Wainwright book negatives. These books were the last to be printed in Kendal as they are now printed in China. This story turned out to be quite a scoop and featured as a 5-page article in July’s Cumbria magazine.
My book collection has gone from strength to strength. I now own all the books from all three publishers, complete with every edition, including all books with minor changes. An example image I have shown here is the Outlying Fells of Lakeland, which is the complete printing history of this title from 1974 to the present day, all in fabulous condition.
One of my greatest possessions is the complete manuscript to Wainwright’s final book published by the Westmorland Gazette – Fellwalking with a Camera. This book celebrates its 30th anniversary this December. The manuscript contains writing by Wainwright never seen before by anyone. To my knowledge, there are only two private owners in the world who own complete Wainwright manuscripts and I am proud to be one of them.
Wainwright’s story has been told countless times over the years since his death. Over the last couple of years, I have proved that there is still more out there to discover
With more stories still to come, I feel my journey has only just begun ….