Ennerdale woman spins 1.1 kilometres of yarn during Wainwright challenge

An Ennerdale woman has successfully completed a unique three-year fundraising challenge for the Lake District Calvert Trust – taking on the Wainwrights and spinning over 1.1 kilometres of yarn in the process!

Susan Denham-Smith from the Wild Wool Workshop took on the challenge of spinning Herdwick wool at the summit of each of the 214 Wainwright Peaks, using a traditional wooden spinning wheel and fibre from the oldest Herdwick flocks in the country.

The challenge was officially launched on the top of Lattrig, 369 metres above Keswick on 2 June 2019 while Susan completed her final Wainwright peak, Hallin Fell on 1 October 2022.  In total, she has spun 30 skeins of yarn, weighing 2.23 kilograms.

The skeins of wool will now be woven into a rug which will be auctioned in aid of the Lake District Calvert Trust.

Commenting on her fundraising, Susan, who moved to the Lake District over 20 years ago to pursue her passion for mountaineering and crafts, said:

“Spinning wool on the Wainwrights has been quite a challenge! I’ve spun in snow, rain and hot sun but the most difficult was the wind.

“The biggest challenge overall was finding somewhere stable to sit and spin on the summits.

“Along the way, I’ve been joined and supported by a steady stream of passers-by – runners, dog walkers, children and regular Lake District visitors.

“I’ve had lots of interesting conversations with children about how the wheel worked.   People have also enjoyed the opportunity to talk about their connection to the textile industry and how spinning and weaving was part of their life as they grew up.”

Continued Susan:

“I feel very honoured that so many volunteers and supporters of the Lake District Calvert Trust have encouraged me along the way.

“Throughout the challenge, I’ve used a portable Louet Victoria Spinning wheel which weighs 8lb and fits into a rucksack I adapted to make it comfortable for carrying into the mountains.”

Expanding on her support for the Lake District Calvert Trust, Susan added:

“As well as promoting the craft of spinning at the Wild Wool Workshop I’ve been raising money for the Lake District Calvert Trust, which provides outdoor activities in a safe and accessible, yet challenging environment for people with disabilities.

“It’s been a charity very close to my heart ever since their Go Herdwick project in 2016.

“Having previously taught in a day centre for people with physical difficulties, I know just how important Calvert is for the disabled community.”

Julia Metcalf, Community Fundraiser at the Lake District Calvert Trust, was part of a group of supporters tackling Susan’s final peak alongside her.

Said Julia:

“On behalf of everybody at the Lake District Calvert Trust, I would like to say a massive thank you to Susan.

“We have massive admiration for her longevity and dedication in completing this unique challenge.

“The work we carry out wouldn’t be possible without the support of people like Susan.  We are incredibly grateful.”