To celebrate their 70th anniversary, Durham University Hill Walking Society will attempt to climb all 214 Wainwright peaks in the Lake District within 24 hours on Saturday 2nd July. Through this challenge, which DUHWS believes no university group has attempted before, the society will fundraise for the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, and the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team.
Of the 400 current members of the society, 76 will take part joined by 33 alumni. They will base themselves at the Braithwaite Institute, near Keswick, for the duration of the challenge which will begin at 8:30am. There will be live updates streamed on DUHWS’s website and Instagram so supporters from across the world can follow the challenge in real time.
The society have split all the Cumbrian peaks into 36 routes each to be completed by a pair of walkers, though the organisers anticipate that some people will have to complete more than one route. The longest route is 37km, which covers 13 Wainwright peaks, and the total route covered across the challenge will amount to more than 17 marathons. Four minibuses and 15 cars will also be in use to ensure the challenge is completed in good time and route leaders have undergone navigation training to prepare them for the challenge.
The Wainwright peaks are all the Lake District mountains described by Alfred Wainwright in his seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, compiled in the 1950s and 1960s. The peaks — all but one of which are more than 1,000 feet in height — attract fell walkers from across the country who wish to complete them all across their hiking careers.
The combined height gain of the Wainwright peaks is more than the height of five Everests and all of the top ten highest peaks in England, including Scafell Pike and Helvellyn, will need to be climbed to complete the challenge. The current record for the continuous round of the Wainwrights by an individual is held by John Kelly who completed all the peaks in just over five and a half days in May 2022.
Ben Buky, DUHWS Expeditions Officer who devised the idea for the challenge when he was the society’s President last year, believes “it’s a really important cause” because “these moutain rescue teams are entirely made up of volunteers that are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond to call outs.
“They carry out life saving rescues of people lost and injured in the hills, rivers and valleys of some of England’s wildest places and receive no government funding for this work. Anyone who chooses to explore the Lake District or North Pennines could end up relying on these services.”
Buky then continued to reflect on the society in general, considering it “my favourite thing about being at Durham so it’s amazing to be doing such a big challenge to celebrate its 70th anniversary.”
The society has established a JustGiving page to raise for their charities and, at the time of writing, they have raised £5,627 to be split equally between the two charities. As an incentive to donate, Youth Hostelling Association is giving away a free weekend’s stay to whoever fundraises the greatest amount.