Walking the Wainwrights : A Lockdown Project

When the world stopped back in March 2020 I paused 'of Alp & Ash' as I was unable to get to my workshop. My daughters were 2 & 5 months old and every day was a repetitive Groundhog Day blur of nappies, making food my eldest wouldn't eat, and trying to work out what activities could possibly entertain two children of such different ages. I was lucky that my husband was unable to work for that first lockdown, but it was still a mentally challenging time and I found myself craving something to focus on other than motherhood.

I'd had an idea to create a 'Walking the Wainwrights' gift box for a couple of years but never found the right time to get to work. With months ahead of me where I was unable to run my business, and with the green light from my husband to escape to my computer occasionally, I seized lockdown as my opportunity, and slowly chipped away at this project. 

Document the days
Documenting memories is something I am passionate about. I use an app to capture 1 second videos of my girls every day that are then stitched together for each birthday, I create yearly photo albums of our family adventures, have a separate photo album to document our caravanning adventures, and make videos set to music of special holidays. My memory admin to-do list is never-ending and a lot of work, but I know I will be so grateful I've captured all those memories in years to come, and I'm excited to show my girls their childhood when they are older. 

What are the Wainwrights?
Before I go on I should probably pause briefly in case anybody’s stumbled upon this post and hasn’t heard of these ‘Wainwrights’. The Wainwrights is the collective name that has been given to the 214 hills and mountains mentioned by a chap named Alfred Wainwright in his seven guidebooks to the Lakeland Fells. I won’t talk too much of Wainwright in this post, but I will share a little something we have in common... we were both born and raised in the same town, and for those of you that know Blackburn it’s quite easy to understand how the Lake District could have made such an impression on us both!

Wainwrights Memories
When I walked the Wainwrights I had a poster that I ticked off and took a panoramic shot at the top of each summit. I wish I'd had something a little more special to mark those memories before they were lost to the past and that is what I hoped to create with this project.

A gift box
began with the box. I liked the idea of using a wooden box as not only could I laser-etch it, but it meant that other memories, such as photos, could be added from a hiker's personal Wainwrights challenge. I found a sliding lid box and designed a simple line drawing to etch on the front, inspired by a view of the Langdales from Blea Tarn; this illustration would also become the front cover for my notebook. 

Notebook Decisions
The size of the wooden gift box informed my decision to make the notebooks A6 (105 × 148 mm) in size. Some Wainwrights log books list the fells alphabetically but I thought it made more sense to separate them how Wainwright did in his books, as it gives you a clearer idea of where these hills are in relation to each other and the Lake District as a whole. I also thought it would be a nice touch to colour these sections using the same colours as the covers of each of Wainwrights seven books.

I used three sizes of triangles to denote the mountains and give an idea of their size: the smallest triangle was for fells 2000 feet and below, the medium triangle meant a height of between 2001 and 2500 feet and the largest triangle was for any mountains above 2501 feet. I also kept the triangles free of colour in case someone wanted to shade in the fells they'd hiked. 

After each map I kept the note-taking section small with a place for the date of summit and a space for a sentence of notes: I wanted this to be something that was easy to fill in for everyone and so chose not to include a space for stats that many hikers track, knowing that families and others walking at a much more leisurely pace probably wouldn't know these details.

Tick list
A tick list is essential for a hill-bagging challenge! With the notebooks being small, I came to the decision that an A4 (210 × 297 mm) fold-out tick list would work well. I listed all 214 Wainwrights including their height in both feet and metres and lined them up next to checkboxes in the colour corresponding to the relevant book colour. I get these lists printed separately, fold them into quarters and adhere them into the back of the notebooks.

I thought it would be a cute addition to include a certificate for once the challenge is complete. I wanted it to complement the notebooks and look more contemporary than the usual certificates you see. There is a space to log the first and last fell conquered and a line drawing inspired by Cat Bells that looks amazing when printed with gold foil. The material I chose for the certificates is a speckled, recycled, smooth card that feels and looks lovely!

The rest
To round out the gift box I got a patch made in an emerald green featuring the same artwork from the front of the box and "214 Wainwrights" on it. I initially wanted it embroidered but a woven patch retained the line work of my illustration more cleanly. 

I liked the idea of adding a pencil for completing the notebook and chose Wainwright's quote "The Hills Are Eternal" to go on it.

And finally I bought some Kendal Mint Cake because I believe all good gift boxes need a sweet treat in them (even if I'm not actually a fan of the stuff myself!)

Running a small business is so multi-faceted and finding packaging is one of my least favourite facets! I think I spent about a month trying to source the right packaging for this project. I wanted it to be plastic free and recyclable, as well as offer enough protection to get the boxes to customers in one piece. I finally found a corrugated cardboard box, shredded cardboard to fill the spaces inside, and paper tape to finish it off. I wrap the boxes in recycled tissue paper too which I hope to have printed one day but for now time and money will not allow that little luxury.

Making Memories
I hope that anybody that receives one of these boxes enjoys filling in the notebook, and adds mementoes & photos from their own Wainwrights challenge. I hope it is something they will come back to many years after they've summited all 214 fells and it will spark many memories that may otherwise have been forgotten. 

▲ Debs 

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