Pennine Way Companion

Pennine Way Companion was published in June 1968 and was dedicated to:



This story primarily focuses on the publishing and printing history of the Pennine Way Companion, but certain key elements of the broader story merit attention. One such facet involves Wainwright’s aversion to the Pennine Way, which we’ll briefly touch upon. This allows the article to maintain focus while acknowledging pertinent aspects of the narrative.

While Wainwright is commonly linked with the Lake District, his profound connection with the northern English backbone was equally noteworthy. His 1938 circular walk, the Pennine Journey, spanning from Settle to Hadrian’s Wall, extensively explored this rugged terrain. Therefore, when Wainwright produced the Pennine Way Companion, his familiarity with this untamed landscape was well-established.

Cumbria magazine June 1968

The Pennine Way, spanning 268 miles from the heart of England to the Scottish borders, originated from the vision of journalist and avid walker Tom Stephenson. Conceived in 1935, the trail came to fruition after extensive advocacy efforts. On 24 April 1965, the Pennine Way officially debuted as England’s inaugural National Trail. The inaugural celebration took place with a ceremony on Malham Moor.

Despite Wainwright’s reservations about the Pennine Way’s commencement in Edale and its conclusion at Kirk Yetholm, he deeply admired Tom Stephenson’s accomplishments. The Pennine Way served as a catalyst, inspiring Wainwright to craft his own long-distance route a few years later—the internationally renowned Coast to Coast Walk.

Wainwright enlisted the assistance of four individuals for the fieldwork, commencing in May 1965. Each team member undertook responsibility for a designated section of the route. Wainwright dedicated the subsequent year, from Easter 1966 to late 1967, to traversing each section in stages, thoroughly verifying every detail along the way. The urgency of completing the task before the year’s end added a sense of time pressure to the endeavour.

Wainwright’s map of the Pennine Way was printed on a handkerchief

The guidebook’s unconventional yet ingenious approach involves starting from the back and progressing towards the front, with each page being read from the bottom up. While adapting to this unique design may require some initial effort, it quickly becomes intuitive and seamlessly integrated into the reading experience.

Examining Wainwright’s guides has revealed that not all his writings should be accepted at face value. His sense of humour, for instance, carries layers of interpretation. Wainwright emerges as a complex character, and it’s likely that only a select few truly understood the intricacies of his personality.

Wainwright candidly expressed his experience on the Pennine Way, which was marked by relentless, days-long driving rain. His straightforward account includes being stuck in a bog on the summit of Black Hill—an ordeal significant enough to discourage even the most resilient hiker.

Wainwright’s apparent loathing of the Pennine Way seemingly originated from his trail experience, but delving deeper unveils a more complex backdrop. During that period, he was experiencing personal pressures, including the evolving relationship with Betty McNally in late 1965. The subsequent year saw the dissolution of his marriage to Ruth, who initiated divorce proceedings. Wainwright’s contemplation of abandoning the book indicates complications in his personal life during that time.

Authors frequently infuse their writing with reflections of their lives at a particular moment, and Wainwright may have been no exception. His exploration of the Pennine Way and the turmoil in his private life raises the question of whether these experiences seeped into his writing. While it remains speculative, there is a compelling case to consider the intersection of Wainwright’s life and his narrative on the Pennine Way.

We will never really know for sure, and perhaps he meant what he said in his closing comment, “You won’t come across me anywhere along the Pennine Way. I’ve had enough of it.”

Betty played a crucial role in Wainwright’s research for the route, providing invaluable support with her car to transport him to remote trail locations. This facilitated a broader exploration for Wainwright, extending beyond the confines of the Cumbrian border. Grateful for her assistance, he expressed his thanks by dedicating the Pennine Way Companion to Betty.

The guide proved to be a resounding success for the Westmorland Gazette, surpassing the sales of some earlier Pictorial Guides by the mid-1980s. This achievement stands as a testament to its remarkable popularity and widespread acclaim.


A First Edition is identified by:

  1. Turquoise case with round corners and gold blocking
  2. 18/- price on the dust jacket
  3. No impression number
This page alone does not identify a First Edition
Pennine Way Companion First Edition
Pennine Way Companion – First Edition with a turquoise case and gold blocking
Pennine Way Companion
Signed First Edition

During the mid to late 1970s, the Gazette transitioned from Letterpress printing to adopting advanced offset litho technology. This upgrade not only enhanced print quality but also significantly reduced the overall printing time. The process involved creating negatives from the original pages, each with 16 images. Printing plates were then produced from the negatives. The final printed sheets were subsequently guillotined and prepared for folding.

A sample of the original Pennine Way Companion printing negatives
Pennine Way Companion
Multiple dust jacket prices
Pennine Way Companion
Two dust jackets were printed on a single sheet and then guillotined
Pennine Way Companion
All dust jackets printed from the mid-1980s were laminated
Pennine Way Companion
Dust jackets were eventually creased down one side to make them easy to wrap around the books

Dust jacket negatives were utilised over an extended period, with old prices either cut out and replaced or entirely masked. Presented here are surviving samples of the dust jackets that have endured over the intervening years.

Westmorland Gazette dust jacket negative priced at £2.70
Westmorland Gazette dust jacket negative from the 1980s
Westmorland Gazette dust jacket positive from the 1980s
Westmorland Gazette dust jacket negative from the 1980s
Westmorland Gazette dust jacket negative from the 1980s

This guide introduced an 18/- price printed directly on the dust jacket, differentiating it from the other Pictorial Guides where 18/- stickers were affixed over the old prices. This practice continued until new dust jackets were created, featuring the updated 18/- 90p price.

Tommy Fellowes assumed the responsibility of either price clipping or affixing new stickers. Having served as the storeman at the Gazette since the 1960s, he managed the packing of book orders and meticulously clipped and stickered thousands of dust jackets over the years. His dedicated efforts continued until his retirement in the 1980s.

Betty’s favourite colour, turquoise, initially graced the case but changed to blue before the end of 1970. The alteration also included squared corners on the case, streamlining production for increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Coinciding with the era of decimalisation, in 1971, the price of the Pennine Way Companion rose to £1.05.

Pennine Way Companion
The 1970s were here, along with a new case and price increase
Pennine Way Companion
This 1975 copy contains several unprinted pages
Pennine Way Companion First Edition Printing Error
This First Edition featured doubled-up sheets—two for the price of one for a lucky customer
Pennine Way Companion Cases
Sample cases from 1975 and 1992, respectively
Pennine Way Companion
A master binding copy from the 1970s (these ensured the sections were collated correctly)

The Pennine Way’s route has changed over the years, influenced by factors such as path enhancements, erosion, and landowner requests. Some diversions have been implemented to showcase improved scenery and address various considerations. These alterations have prompted multiple revisions to the guide throughout its existence, aligning it with the evolving route of the Pennine Way.

Here are two instances where the guide stirred concerns. The initial letter outlines a complaint lodged with the Gazette regarding a remark made by Wainwright in the guide. Although there was a threat of legal action against the publisher, no such proceedings materialised, as there was no substantive case. The description in the guide remained unaltered for another two decades.

Mr Sharpe of Hanlith protests Wainwright’s comment

The second letter originates from the Peak District National Park, diplomatically proposing a minor route adjustment to enhance walker safety during shooting days. Wainwright graciously acknowledged their concern and consented to the modification. He promptly revised the page, incorporating these changes into the sixty-fourth impression approximately three years later.

Wainwright’s response in pencil can be seen in the letter

In the 1970s, guides sharing the same impression number often featured different case types due to shortages in certain materials. In cases where specific materials were scarce, alternative cases were employed. Below are two fifty-ninth impression guides from 1979, each displaying distinct case variations.

Pennine Way Companion
Both Burgandy beauties share the same impression number
Pennine Way Companion
Case examples from the 1970s

The early 1980s marked significant changes for the guides. Removing gold blocking from the front of the case and discontinuing impression numbers were notable adjustments for efficiency and cost savings. These alterations were implemented even after the Pennine Way Companion reached its eighty-sixth impression, underscoring the guide’s popularity two decades after the trail’s official opening.

Pennine Way Companion signed in 1973
Pennine Way Companion
Case examples from the 1980s

The Wainwright BBC TV series premiered in the North East in 1985, with its national debut on 12 May 1986. A dedicated program focused on the Pennine Way was featured in the series, prompting the Gazette to bolster stock levels for this title and others in anticipation of heightened demand.

The Westmorland Gazette notified all retailers and wholesalers of the upcoming TV series

Towards the end of 1987, the Gazette ceased printing Wainwright books, and Local Printer Titus Wilson signed a four-year printing contract from 1988 to 1991. The oversight of all orders during this period was entrusted to Andrew Nichol, the General Printing and Book Publishing Manager.

Following Wainwright’s passing in 1991, the book publishing responsibilities transitioned to Michael Joseph. By the autumn of the same year, the entire process of transfer and handover had been successfully finalised.

The Westmorland Gazette’s final Titus Wilson order

In anticipation of the book launch in April 1992, Michael Joseph forwarded new guidebook designs to David Rigg, the owner of Titus Wilson and Dixon Print. Chris Jesty, who would later revise the guides, personally handwrote the introductory prelim pages for the upcoming Michael Joseph editions.

Design instructions for the Michael Joseph reprint
Pennine Way Companion Prelims were produced for Michael Joseph by Chris Jesty

The printing of the new Michael Joseph guides utilised the original negatives. The introductory pages and prelims were updated to align with the change in publisher while retaining the original prelims for historical continuity.

New Michael Joseph title page
New Michael Joseph prelims

The outdated Pennine Way Companion dust jacket negatives were no longer suitable, prompting Titus Wilson to produce new ones. The negatives used to craft new dust jackets for Michael Joseph are presented here.

Michael Joseph’s dust jacket artwork from 1992
Michael Joseph’s dust jacket negative from 1992
Michael Joseph’s dust jacket negative from 1992
Michael Joseph’s dust jacket negative from 1992
Michael Joseph’s dust jacket negative from 1992

Michael Joseph’s new book launch proved successful, but the guidebook printing transferred to Clays Ltd in Suffolk shortly after. To ensure the security of the original materials, they remained in Kendal, and Michael Joseph received second-generation duplicates. This relocation was a purely business-oriented decision, although Titus Wilson was disappointed.

The guides needed updating, and Wainwright had granted Chris Jesty permission to revise them, but only after his passing. Regrettably, Michael Joseph was not inclined towards guidebook revisions, much to Chris’s dissatisfaction.

Despite initial reluctance, it became evident that specific inevitable route changes in the Pennine Way Companion needed addressing. Chris was granted authorisation to implement these minor alterations, leading to the publication of the Revised Edition in 1994. Three years later, a subsequent reprint saw the replacement of the trademark yellow pages with white paper to match the rest of the guide.

Michael Joseph implemented modest increases in guidebook prices. The 1992 launch guide was sold at £8.99, and the subsequent 1994/7 revisions were priced at £9.99.

Chris was dissatisfied with the revisions made by Michael Joseph. He aimed to create a comprehensive handwritten revision that mirrored Wainwright’s original work. The minor edits in the 1994 guide were typeset, resulting in less seamless integration with Wainwright’s handwritten style.

Pennine Way Companion

From left to right:
Pennine Way Companion, M. Joseph 1992
Pennine Way Companion (RE), M. Joseph 1994
Pennine Way Companion (RE), M. Joseph 1997

Pennine Way Companion
The Traditional yellow pages at the front and the back were discontinued in 1997

In February 1992, Michael Joseph was invoiced for 8,500 copies of the Pennine Way Companion. It’s remarkable to contemplate that over 30 years have elapsed since it left Kendal. Notably, it stands as the only guide that never made its way back to its Kendal origins.

Michael Joseph’s final Titus Wilson order

In January 2003, Michael Joseph halted the publication of the guidebooks. In less than a month, Frances Lincoln successfully secured the bid to republish them. Wainwright’s artistic works’ homecoming to Kendal was a momentous occasion. However, it was regrettable that The Pennine Way Companion would not be included.

The Pennine Way Companion underwent its initial printing in Singapore in May 2004, with a retail price of £11.99. Subsequent reprints took place in Thailand in 2007 and 2009, priced at £12.99 and £13.99, respectively. Additionally, it was reintroduced as part of a clothbound box set published in 2009.

For reasons not entirely clear, the sales figures for this guide experienced a decline, with both Michael Joseph and Frances Lincoln achieving only three impressions each. While this raises questions, it may not necessarily indicate a decrease in the popularity of the Pennine Way itself. Other factors, such as changes in market preferences or promotional efforts, could have contributed to the observed trend.

Pennine Way Companion

From left to right:
Pennine Way Companion, F. Lincoln 2004
Pennine Way Companion, F. Lincoln 2007
Pennine Way Companion, F. Lincoln 2009

Thankfully, Frances Lincoln fully supported the guidebook revisions. Chris Jesty welcomed this news with delight, dedicating the next decade to the meticulous revision of the guides. He approached the task carefully, respecting Wainwright’s original work and making changes only where necessary.

Chris began fieldwork for the Pennine Way Companion – Second Edition in Middleton-in-Teesdale in May 2010. After dedicating numerous months to traversing this iconic trail, the revisions were finalised in January 2012.

In the summer of 2023, Chris revisited the Pennine Way at Teesdale, retracing his steps along the River Tees to Low Force, High Force, and Langdon Beck. This return marked his first revisit to these locations in 13 years.

Chris Jesty Low Force
Chris Jesty at Low Force…
Chris Jesty High Force
…and High Force
Pennine Way Companion

From left to right:
Pennine Way Companion (SE), F. Lincoln 2011
Pennine Way Companion (RE) low gsm paper, F. Lincoln 2009
Pennine Way Companion (RE) high gsm paper, F. Lincoln 2009

Pennine Way Companion Collection
Pennine Way Companion collection 1968 – 2012


Historically, the Pennine Way carried a negative reputation due to its numerous peat bogs, persistent rain, and extensive stretches of damp and desolate moorland. Despite these challenges, many embraced the opportunity to tackle the walk with the allure of a free pint at the Border Hotel, Kirk Yetholm, courtesy of Wainwright, serving as an irresistible reward for completing the journey.

My wife and I completed the Pennine Way in 2013, and this trail captivated our hearts. Journeying through its myriad iconic and breathtaking locations brought us immense joy. The expansive moorland sections provided a splendid escape from civilisation, fostering a profound connection with nature where everyday concerns disappeared. Improved paths and increased accommodation options have enhanced the overall experience. I wholeheartedly recommend it to those who have not yet embarked on the Pennine Way. The exhilarating adventure leaves a lasting, positive imprint that resonates throughout your life.

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