Hillwalkers past and present from a North East university aim to complete a unique challenge at the weekend in homage to a famous guidebook author.

More than 100 alumni and existing members of Durham University Hill Walking Society will attempt to complete a 24-hour climb of all 214 Wainwrights, the fells in the Lake District famously charted by the late Blackburn-born author and illustrator of the same name.

Saturday’s (July 2) challenge has been organised to mark the society’s 70th anniversary, while 1952 was also the year Kendal treasurer’s office employee, Alfred Wainwright, began writing his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.

The distinctive guidebooks have gone on to sell more than two million copies and the collection is considered to be the 'bible' of fell walking in the Lake District.

Read more: Wainwright-inspired book wins The Great Outdoors Magazine award

But the event is also intended to back the efforts of search and rescue teams in both the Lake District, plus Teesdale and Weardale, for which the society has already raised £5,000 in support of what it described as, "the vital work” of the voluntary groups.

Katie Exton, of the society, said: “The Wainwrights have a combined height of almost 140,000m and, as far as we know, have never all been climbed by a walking group in a single day before.

“To tackle this feat, the 214 summits have been divided across 36 routes.

“These include more intense options that cover long distances and may involve technical scrambling and difficult navigation, as well as shorter, more accessible options to ensure all members can contribute to the challenge.”

Ben Buky, former president and mastermind of the challenge, said “I was inspired by the upcoming 70th anniversary to organise a society challenge, to celebrate the past and present of the society, and to create a new crowning achievement that will be looked back upon by future generations of Durham hillwalkers.”

Current society president Lorna McBride said: “The event should be an amazing celebration of the society and all it has accomplished in the past 70 years.

“The executive committee has worked incredibly hard over the past ten months to turn this idea into a reality, and I am really looking forward to seeing this pay off.”

Live progress updates of the challenge will be shared on the society’s web page and via Instagram, which will also carry details of how people can donate to the search and rescue teams.

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