Wainwright Revealed by Richard Else. Mountain Media Publications Limited. £19.99

I have been a Wainwright fan for forty five years ever since I was given one of his Pictorial Guides as an eighteenth birthday present which, along with the other six guides that I purchased soon afterwards, I have used extensively on my mountain expeditions in the Lake District.

Through my Scouting and walking connections I was also fortunate to meet the man himself back in the 1980s on a number of occasions, both at his home in Kendal and also at the Kendal Museum where he was an honorary curator in his spare time. However, I would say that I never got to know him intimately although we did develop a fairly good friendship over a ten year period.

Two people, however, did succeed in this respect; Eric Robson who interviewed him for the various TV documentaries shown during the 1980s and Richard Else who was the producer of those BBC TV series. Now, twenty five years after Wainwright’s death, Richard has put together a fascinating book of his recollections of AW and this has just been published.

For the last decade of his life no-one, except members of his immediate family, knew Wainwright better than Richard did. In a relationship that went far beyond the requirements of documentary making, he became AW's confidant and the only person allowed to work with him in a collaborative way. Richard appears to have been a genuine friend to a man who had virtually no close friends. A person whose social skills took second place to his work and the need for an obsessive order in all aspects of his life.

It was the most improbable of relationships - a struggling, unknown documentary producer with a film he was determined to make and an excessively reclusive man more than double his age. So how did Richard succeed where many more famous names had failed? The book tells the story of how Richard brought Wainwright out of the shadows and into the nation’s living rooms. He was to transform a cult guidebook writer into the most unlikely television star - one who attracted millions of new admirers with films that effortlessly made the BBC’s ‘top twenty’. Many people have claimed that AW was a reluctant television star, but Richard tells a different and much more complex story - that of a man often at odds with himself and the ultimate outsider. He even poses the question as to whether because of his complex interaction with people and his obsessive nature at times Wainwright was “on the spectrum”. This I found to be one of the most interesting chapters in the book.

Throughout his time with Wainwright, Richard kept detailed notes and took many previously unseen photographs during these filming “expeditions” as Richard calls them. These include AW’s last visit to Haystacks; a swan song tour of his beloved Scottish Highlands and Islands; the Coast to Coast walk AW invented and a final emotional journey to Wainwright’s Lancashire roots around industrial Blackburn and particularly his visit to Ewood Park, home of his beloved Blackburn Rovers who he had supported as a boy, formed the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Club in the 1930s and whose results he always listened out for every week on the radio.

In the book Richard gives a genuine insiders view into their years together. Most importantly he gives a new insight into Wainwright the man, revealing little known aspects of his character. But Richard also recalls the lighter side of AW that was often kept hidden from his public.

This is a fascinating book and one that anyone who has used Wainwright’s guidebooks over the years will thoroughly enjoy. I certainly did!