The Three Peaks Walk Certificate

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Article by Chris Butterfield.

The Yorkshire Three Peaks Walk was at its height of popularity during the 1980s. In 1985, Wainwright produced a certificate to award those who completed the walk. It is unknown whether it was Wainwright’s idea or if someone approached him with the suggestion.

Was this title the inspiration for the certificate?

The hand-produced certificate was revealed to Andrew Nichol, the general printing and book publishing manager at The Westmorland Gazette, during a meeting at Wainwright’s Kendal home. The idea was discussed further. Would the certificate be signed by Wainwright or stamped? It was decided that Wainwright would produce a round rubber stamp for the job. Wainwright was enthusiastic, and at the end of the meeting, he gave the certificate to Andrew for printing.

Andrew thought about it for a couple of days and began to have concerns. “How would an applicant verify that they had completed the walk?” The Gazette would be producing the certificates, and he felt it wouldn’t look good for the newspaper if just one unvalidated certificate was issued without proof.

If Wainwright had approached Andrew when he succeeded Harry Firth as General Manager in 1982, he would have produced the certificate without question. By 1985 he had brought the general printing department back into profit and didn’t want to risk producing anything that could leave the Gazette open to criticism.

Wainwright’s original handmade certificate.

During his next meeting with Wainwright, Andrew explained why he couldn’t proceed any further with the project. Wainwright accepted his decision, and no more was said. A few years later, Andrew found the certificate in his drawer and the manuscripts for Ex-Fellwanderer and Fellwalking with a Camera. He took them back to Wainwright, who said, “Oh, I don’t want them; they are no good to me. You have them if you want”.

In 2010, Ken McNaughton, a Wainwright enthusiast, purchased the certificate along with many other Wainwright related items from Andrew. There were three missing graphics on the certificate. They likely went missing during the many years it was spent stored at the Gazette. Ken identified the missing components and cut them out of an old copy of Walks in Limestone Country. He then framed everything together with a brief description beneath the certificate.

The three missing graphics.

I met Ken in 2019, and he showed me several items he acquired from Andrew, including the certificate. A few years later, he informed me he was selling some of his Wainwright memorabilia in an auction, so I was lucky to win them for a reasonable price.

I took the certificate to Andrew to refresh his memory of the events back in 1985. The certificate was briefly mentioned in his Behind the Scenes with Wainwright book. A special thanks to Ken for his efforts in identifying the missing pieces and for doing such a great job with the presentation of the certificate.

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  • Peter says:

    Another great story Chris.
    I love reading about the odd pieces of memorabilia which have resurfaced over the years…the rare one offs which are so special and add so much to the whole story surrounding AW.
    Thank you !

  • Lee Senior says:

    Great piece, Chris. I’ve learnt lots and didn’t know about AW’s influence on the Y3P!
    I’ve been lucky enough to do the route 5 times (living fairly near to it as I do), with a PB of 8hr 37mins.

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