Wainwright Lake District sketch breaks auction record

Alfred Wainwright's record-breaking sketch of Striding Edge (Image credit: 1818 auctioneers)

Alfred Wainwright has long been a legendary figure in the outdoor community, thanks to his iconic reference guides to walking in England’s Lake District. Now, nearly 30 years after his death, he’s become a big player in the art world after one of his sketches fetched more than £10,000 at auction.

The signed and framed, 7x5-inch artwork depicts Striding Edge, the famous ridge on England’s third highest mountain, Helvellyn – which Wainwright wrote about in his first guide book, The Eastern Fells.

Despite estimates suggesting the sketch would fetch between £400 and £600, the sale at 1818 Auctioneers fetched a winning bid of £10,200 – widely believed to be a record price for one of Wainwright’s pictures. Over 70 bids were made, with a buyer from Lancaster winning the auction.

It seems that Helvellyn is the jewel of the Lake District – in the art world, at least. Two other Wainwright drawings up for sale – one of Doddick Gill on Blencathra, and another of Cul Mor – fetched £740 and £820, respectively.

“We think £10,200 is a record price for a pen and ink sketch by Wainwright, and it's certainly one for us,” said Bill Nelson, saleroom manager for 1818 Auctioneers. “Wainwright wrote that mountain tops were places to refresh the soul, find new perspectives and banish worries and that's particularly meaningful right now. “His depiction of the Lake District's most talked-about ridge, Striding Edge, would tick all those boxes.”

In a previous life, Richard spent over a decade on market-leading sci-fi/fantasy magazine SFX, where he talked movies, TV and books with some of the biggest names in the genre. Having swapped Star Wars and Star Trek for the great outdoors, he's worked on Advnture since it launched in July 2020, and looks after the day-to-day running of the site.