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Ten-year Wainwrights Odyssey nears an end

A ten-year odyssey comes to an end in May with the launch of a book that is one of the most significant publications since the late Alfred Wainwright completed his 13 years of work on the legendary seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells in 1965.

The book, The Wainwrights in Colour, is the work of artist and fellwalker Andy Beck, and is being launched at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal – Wainwright’s home-town for the last 50 years of his life – over the first weekend in May.

It feature paintings of every illustration in the 2,000-plus pages of Wainwright’s hand-drawn books covering 214 fells. Andy had to track down each spot from where Wainwright took a photograph before he returned to his Kendal Green home and subsequently making a sketch. Andy has done exactly the same, but instead of a black and white line drawing he recreated the scene in a watercolour painting. There are more than 1,500 such illustrations in the book.

The 360-page coffee table-size book will be published as an individually numbered and signed limited edition of 5,000 copies, each accompanied by a DVD showing how Andy worked to complete an example fell from start to finish.

“It’s good to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Andy, who last September gave to talks at the inaugural Festival of the Fells in Ambleside about his upcoming book. “When I look back at some of the pictures done in the early years I can see how my work has definitely improved, but there’s no going back after ten years: it’s set in stone.”

That was much how the Wainwright books developed, too. Book One, featuring the Fairfield and Helvellyn ranges and Book Two (the High Street fells), offers a lot less detail and finesse than later volumes in the series.

• The Wainwrights in Colour can be pre-ordered and collected at the Castle Green Hotel on Saturday  7 May and Sunday 8 May. It costs £39. If you are unable to collect your copy postage and packing is extra. Details on www.andybeckartist.co.uk