Walker scales the 214 Wainwrights… traveling only by public transport from WALES

A Lake District man boxed each of the 214 Wainwrights – traveling between them using only public transport.

Lewis Jevons might be the first person to do this since Alfred himself wrote his illustrated guides to the Lakeland Fells in the 1950s and 60s. Unlike the author however, Lewis had to use public transport from his home in west wales to tackle the 214 Wainwrights.

The gigantic mission took him almost five years, but Lewis admitted that this obsession started almost by accident. Lewis said: “I headed to the lakes for a week’s holiday. I didn’t have a car so it was a matter of taking the train and then using the buses.

READ MORE:The new owners of the Glenburn Hotel after a seven-figure sale to a neighbor

“That’s when I saw the word ‘Wainwrights.’ The insect bit me. I have a car now, but once I started I thought, well, Wainwright himself has done it all without a car. Then I saw how the lakes get overwhelmed with cars, especially in high season – it’s absolutely awful.

“I thought I didn’t want to be part of this problem, I wanted to be a responsible tourist because I’m from West Wales, we’ve had our own share of over-tourism. I want to do it the right way and environmentally, it’s the sensible thing to do.”

Lewis on the bus from Keswick to Buttermere

Lewis, 29, who runs a branch of outdoor clothing chain Trespass, has settled into a routine – a train from Aberystwyth to Wolverhampton then joins the West Coast Main Line to Glasgow, getting off at Oxenholme or Penrith, depending on which lake district he was heading for.

As the challenge took shape, Lewis set himself some rules – besides sticking to public transport, he would fall on his own. But it took some time for the magnitude of the task to become clear.

He said, “I didn’t really understand what I was getting into. The number 214 sounded big, but I hadn’t really studied the cards. So, for starters, it’s the central ones, the ones on the beaten track, where buses run every 20 minutes in the summer.

“When I got more serious after the first 50 I realized there were quite a few in the more remote parts of the national park where the buses might not be so frequent or the winter schedule that discounted where you can go. It was all about planning areas to reserve at a campground or hostel somewhere. Then use the buses and do the surrounding 20 or 30 falls in a week.

Lewis added: “My partner doesn’t like to walk and none of my friends have free time with me. So it was out of necessity and then I realized how much I love quiet and alone time.”

Lewis stayed true to his word throughout and that only added to his enjoyment of the challenge. He continued: “Half the fun was the fact that because you have to start and end at a bus stop, you work out how you can get from place to place.

“Sometimes the bus stop might not be exactly where you wanted it to be, so you end up walking up a hidden valley or following a stream for a few miles.

“Getting the car, you drive down a hill, drive up it, and drive home. You don’t really experience the other things the park has to offer. Whereas if you have a three mile walk to the bus stop, you see it all.”

Cumbria’s reliance on buses – all run by Stagecoach – has made Lewis a standard bearer in the county’s public transport system and hopes more people will follow his lead, helping to steer visitors away from the county’s sights.

The view from the top of Rannerdale Knotts
The view from the top of Rannerdale Knotts

‘I can’t think of any other national park in the UK that is as well served as the Lake District for public transport,’ he said.

Lewis’ Wainwright Marathon ended in early May and for the final walk he was not alone. His parents Susan and Alan and his partner Cate accompanied him part of the way to the last fall, Rannerdale Knotts. There was a Processo toast but also mixed feelings for Lewis. He said: “It’s something I obsess over all my free time and you’re left with a bit of a void now.

“I’ve done them all once, but I don’t really feel like I know them all inside out yet. I actually feel like I’m just getting started.”

You can download the calendar of Lake District buses here.

Comments are closed.