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by Chris Stanbury
Published by Sigma
Don’t let the word ‘Bagger’ put you off.
The concept of dashing up and down hills
just to acquire that tick is not what AW
would have approved of, nor Eric Robson
who has described Wainwright Bagging as
‘trainspotting with altitude’, yet has written
a foreword to the book.
The book is an autobiographical account of
climbing Lake District peaks. Chris Stanbury,
who first began walking in Lakeland some twenty
years ago, describes the long-distance walks he
has undertaken, the ascent of summits and how
an appreciation of the Lake District environment
gradually evolved through each experience.
Concerning those early encounters, there are
chapters entitled ‘Skiddaw’, ‘High Mountains and
Ridges’, ‘Bagging in Winter’ and ‘Scary Places’.
Gaining the ticks was clearly not the author’s main
objective, rather the quality of the experience of
going up fells. Chris reveals his joy of seeking out
what he terms ‘the spiritual summits’ of mountains
(not always the highest points) where the best views
can be enjoyed in order to ‘get an overall picture
and knowledge of the landscape around you’. He
says that he finds it essential to stay on the summits
for as long as possible in order that he might
understand the character of these 214 high places,
and to enjoy the euphoria he experiences there.
Chris commends lower Wainwrights, which have
abundant charm, solitude and intrigue and recounts
numerous experiences encountering red deer
on The Nab, cloud inversions and mists, headducking
in cool mountain water; bottom-sliding off
mountains in winter snows. A recurrent theme is
sharing AW’s preference for solitude on the fells.
One chapter discusses the theories behind the
urge to ‘bag’. Chris admits to being a self-confessed
bagger, but explains that it is part of a desire to
know the Lakeland fells intimately. ‘And because of
that, my love of the Lake District extends beyond
just bagging the 214 summits. I will not rest until I
have an intimate knowledge of each fell.’
I found the book full of thought-provoking ideas
and reflections about the mountain world so many
of us enjoy.
Chris writes passionately about the
fells and with a fresh perspective, and clearly shares
values held by Alfred Wainwright. I’ll leave the
last words to Eric Robson who, in his foreword,
answers the question why he would write ‘nice
things’ about a book about ‘fell-bagging’: ‘Simple.
Chris takes time to pause, to take in the view and
to think about the meaning of life as he slowly
works his way round the Lake District. The
Wainwright-bagging is a means to an end rather
than a superficial ritual. Chris is a personable
companion. Enjoy the long walk in his company.’
Roger Bunyan- Member No. 1217