Atop the Yellow Hills in Pleasington sits the Wainwright Memorial. Set into a slab of gritstone is a bronze portrait of Alfred Wainwright. Around him is a ‘toposcope’; a directional circle giving the distances to various landmarks.
Wainwright was a native of Blackburn. His passion for the Lake District is well known, but he kindled his love of the hills while walking more locally. Rambles up to Darwen Tower and within the Ribble Valley were particular favourites. He initially came up to this area of the Yellow Hills aged 21 and just two years later he made his first trip up to the Lake District. This point was chosen for the memorial because on a clear day it affords good views of the Lakeland fells.
The idea for a memorial at Pleasington came from the Wainwright Society. They exist to keep alive the fellwalking traditions promoted by Alfred Wainwright, wishing to bring a wider audience to fell-walking and caring for the hills. It took four years from having the initial idea to funding and installing the toposcope and portrait. The design was done by Nick Riley and the piece was created by sculptor Martyn Bednarczuk. Funding came from Blackburn with Darwen Council, Twin Valley Homes, Housing Pendle and Groundwork Pennine Trust at a total cost of £6,000. The monument was unveiled on 13th May 2013.
The viewpoint picks out well known local landmarks near and far, including Pendle Hill and Blackpool Tower. The casual viewer may be surprised to see ‘331 Audley Range’ with a given distance of three miles away. This was Wainwright’s childhood home. His first place of work is similarly inscribed ‘Blackburn Town Hall 1m’. He started work there, aged 13, in the Borough Engineer’s office. Three years later, still staying within the building, he transferred to the Borough Treasurer’s Department. There he became a trainee accountant.
In 1941, Wainwright moved to Kendal to work in the treasurer’s department, taking a cut in pay to do so. Seven years later, he was appointed as the town’s treasurer. Accordingly, Kendal is labelled on the toposcope as being 41 miles away. Also noted is ‘Haystacks 62m’. In his book Memoirs of a Fellwalker he said his wish was for his ashes to be scattered there. He wrote “And if you, dear reader, should get a bit of grit in your boot as you are crossing Haystacks in the years to come, please treat it with respect. It might be me.”
Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2020
There is no car park close to the memorial. It is on the Witton Weavers Way (part of the Beamer trail in the Yellow Hills area). The monument is not marked on the older online downloadable map of the route. See the Witton Weaver Way website here
To walk from Witton Park Car Park, see the downloadable map (which does have the monument clearly marked on) here
Wainwright: The Biography, Hunter Davies (2007) Orion