By Dennis Wynne-Jones
When the Wells sisters from the tiny hamlet of Denton, near Ilkley, Yorkshire, took up mountaineering at the start of the twentieth century, little did they know that they were to become pioneers in women’s climbing in the UK. At the time of the growing strength of the Women’s Suffragette movement, women-only mountaineering began to increase in popularity. This story describes the adventures of Paddy, Trilby and Biddy Wells, through Wharfedale, the Lake District, North Wales, Scotland and the Alps, including the first all-female traverse of the Skye ridge, the first female descent of Gaping Ghyll pothole, and the first female to successfully climb all the Scottish Munros.
There were links in the lives of the three sisters to the Church of St. John in Ben Rhydding; to the local ladies Hockey Club; to the founding of England’s first women only climbing club; to Bradford Diocesan Council meetings; to innovative ideas in Special Needs education in Bradford; to local amateur operatic and Gilbert and Sullivan Societies; and to many leading and famous British mountaineers of
This story will be of interest both to people in Ilkley and Wharfedale, and to those interested in mountaineering history nationally.