The Visual Nature of Lakeland

Sheep in Great Langdale valley with neolithic axe factory in background.

Sheep in Great Langdale valley with neolithic axe factory in background.

In George Monbiot’s recent article Black Box, he describes his frustrated difficulty in communicating with any of the key decision makers at UNESCO in relation to his thoughts on World Heritage Site designation for Cumbria’s Lake District as expressed in his previous article Fell Purpose. In that article, George raised some interesting and valid points but to my mind hasn’t actually established any sound grounds for a complaint against WHS designation for Lakeland, ecological or otherwise, see my previous post for my fuller analysis of the set of grievances voiced in his previous article on the subject. As I said before, there’s no reason why his desire for ecological restoration could not take place within a UNESCO WHS. His grievances strike me as genuinely innocent, underpinned by errors of comprehension and appreciation and fueled by a desire to see ecological restoration take place. UNESCO have already made their decision, correctly in my opinion, to designate the British Lake District as a World Heritage Site. To recap, the key points in favour of designation as I see it, are:

  1. Lakeland as we know and love it is a unique and discreet cultural landscape, not a purely natural one. Human interaction with the landscape for many thousands of years has created what we see today — a visually appealing patchwork of landscape features shaped by glaciation, traditional sheep grazing, forestry and tourism in the form of hiking, riding, boating and simply gazing. There are many scenes in Lakeland that are Tolkeinesque. Their charm is principally visual and clear views are important to their appreciation. The rich heritage of prehistoric monuments are embedded within the landscape, they were erected with regard to features within their landscape, aligned to geophysical points including other sites, as well as cardinal points. Their siting and orientation was deliberate. I am not alone in thinking that many natural features of Lakeland were probably revered as sacred, Saddleback being a good example; it is indeed possible that the whole mountainous area was considered holy.
  2. Our modern appreciation of landscape was greatly shaped by the poetic appreciation of illustrious visitors. The landscape influenced them and they, it. There are a lot of historically and culturally important sites within the designated area that are vulnerable to deterioration without proper maintenance and there is much scope for interpretation to make sense of landscape features, there’s much scope for making areas more accessible physically and in terms of interpretation. This is UNESCO’s area of expertise.
  3. Sheep aren’t responsible for Lakeland’s screes, these are from glacial erosion and it is as much due to glaciers and climatic conditions that we have the exposures of bare rock immortalized in water colour paintings and black and white photographs. Sheep grazing is an integral part of landscape management, few other creatures are hardy enough to graze the higher Fells and I don’t think George is advocating that our mountain views be maintained by lawn mowers, rather he’s thinking that they should be forested, but this would essentially change the cultural landscape which now and previously has always been visually oriented. People also enjoy seeing these sheep within the landscape, even if they’re being herded by farmers on ATVs. It’s the sheepdogs that help make it all manageable now as in previous centuries.  There’s also a very long tradition of industrial exploitation, the neolithic axe factories in Great Langdale are famous, but how many of us know that iron ore was mined by the Romans above Ulswater and transported from there by river for example?

Sheep are hardy managers of Lakeland landscape.

I agree with George’s assertions that there’s a lot of scope for ecological restoration and I think that there’s no reason why this would conflict with UNESCO’s mission, rather it can and should go hand in hand with sensitive planning!  For this to work well, there will obviously need to be open channels of communication between cultural and environmental conservation bodies and landowners and the visiting public. There are great opportunities here for sure. There are Arctic Char in some of the lakes, relict populations of the glacial melt at the end of the Pleistocene. Wouldn’t it be great to sensitively rewild some areas and restore some water meadows and other habitat for hardy traditional British megafauna, some made extinct here by man, but still living elsewhere in northern Europe? Eagles, beavers, elks, boars, wolves, bears?

World Heritage Site Designation For Lakeland – Some Thoughts

Lakeland landscape with Derwentwater Fells. C. Paxton image and copyright.

Lakeland landscape with Derwentwater Fells. C. Paxton image and copyright.

The pride is real. The British Lake District is worthy of World Heritage Site designation.

Elterwater with mallard duck presents idyllic Lakeland scenery. C. Paxton image and copyright.

Elterwater with mallard duck presents idyllic Lakeland scenery. C. Paxton image and copyright.

I feel compelled to write my reaction to George Monbiot’s May 19th article “Fell Purpose” , a highly stimulating article. Monbiot begins by saying that “The attempt to turn the Lake District into a World Heritage site would be a disaster”. I disagree, but he is right in saying that it is an almost irreversible move and worthy of due consideration, especially in the light of Brexit, as the area currently benefits from three billion pounds of E.U. funding annually. If people turn against the idea of designation as a UNESCO WHS then at least the gauntlet has been dropped and similar funding can then be sought from other more local sources.

The fact is that the Lakeland that we know and love depends very much upon active management from farmers, landowners, non-profit groups and volunteers as well as local and national government. There’s no way they’d let a disaster happen to Lakeland. They love it too.

In short Monbiot’s article presents an illusion of reality from selective observations and condemns plans to assist ‘preservation’ of English Lakeland at international expense begging the question of whether it would be developed in other (better?) ways if the area wasn’t made a WHS. Not only is there no evidence that that would happen, but he needs to explore the ideas of betterment out loud so that we can see the extent of them and ask why they couldn’t happen in a WHS?  In terms of ‘improvement’ he can’t simply equate progressive development with general aforestation. That image of the screes that he has selected for criticism of the region at large, is of Wastwater in Western Lakeland near Scarfell, which is famous for … its craggy screes. There are few other such dramatic screes elsewhere, they continue underwater in what is one of our deepest lakes, yet he would hold that glacial feature as an example of widespread ecological mistreatment and blame sheep for it. He’s being a bit heavy handed there.  Wastwater was never rainforest in the time of man, if you want that visit Lodore Falls. If people want clear views of Fell tops on the whole, and they do seem to, then cluttering them with trees isn’t a particularly bright idea. In fact the report notes that many fine viewpoints that were clear in Wordsworth’s day would benefit from sensitive and judicious clearance. There are already areas of native deciduous forest around Haweswater, Ulswater and Derwentwater for example that are gorgeous and on marginal rocky lowland and grazed.

On p.534 Only landscape character types B, E, F and G are listed as being in any condition equal to or lesser than moderate! I is moderate to good. So, it’s not in a parlous state by any means but there’s quite a lot of room for improvement.  On page 535 the biodiversity table shows the bulk of SSSIs 66%, as recovering. Monbiot is right, this could be better.

However, the real eye opener, I think is Table 4.1 the percentage of  listed buildings and scheduled monuments at risk! A lot of the scheduled monuments will be archaic ones such as the Cockpit. The Lake District has a wealth of heritage that is appreciated worldwide, why should it not receive the official recognition and accompanying financial support that it so richly deserves?

The supporting documents for the bid proposal make good reading for anyone interested in Cumbria’s Lake District (http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/caringfor/projects/whs/lake-district-nomination).

While there’s some truth in what George says about the size of the farms increasing and the need for subsidies to continue even in the face of Brexit, World Heritage Site status would probably suit the Lake District perfectly well as far as I can see because:

a) it’s mainly the farmers,  landowners and teams of volunteers who maintain the landscape and culture nexus that UNESCO wants to preserve. They wouldn’t want to cover the fells with trees anyway, some ravines and along watercourses perhaps but not the felltops, WHS would give a shot in the arm to the cultural and historical sites (some that have struggled to thrive through tourism only, e.g. my wife and I miss Cockermouth’s Sheep and Wool Centre now gone) and offer some degree of maintenance for scheduled monuments that are mostly looked after gratis by landowners.

b) UNESCO would likely act on the advice of the National Trust and Natural England, Eden Rivers Trust, English Heritage etc. with regard to policy decisions and improving public access facilities in a sensitive manner, they have acted sensibly elsewhere.

c) much of the tourism infrastructure is already in place, the grant money could be usefully employed repairing essential infrastructure and improving access and interpretation that benefit locals and visitors alike.

d) The Lake District has large tracts of sheepscape but there is native woodland with deer, cattle pasture with rare breeds, and there are pine plantations e.g. Grizedale some of which could be systematically replaced with native mixed deciduous forest over time, though our red squirrels like the pines too, as do many birds, so some conifers should certainly remain. Herdwicks are one of the few types of animal that will live year-round on some of the higher fells.

e) the elements considered most at risk are scheduled monuments and listed buildings – this is a primary concern of UNESCO.

f) there’s a lot of scope for sensitive and imaginative development for recreation and education.

 

The Carles of Catslerigg, near Keswick. C. Paxton image and copyright.

The Carles of Castlerigg, situated in some of England’s finest landscape near Keswick. One of Cumbria’s great Neolithic stone circles, it is also one of the oldest. C. Paxton image and copyright.

Fell walkers pause to admire the Cockpit on Moor Divock, Askham Common. C.Paxton. image and copyright

Fell walkers pause to admire the Cockpit on Moor Divock, Askham Common. C.Paxton. image and copyright

I think there are a lot of prehistoric sites that could benefit from the WHS status; a lot of cultural treasures made more accessible.  When you consider that the amazing rock art on the boulders at Chapel Style were only officially recognized in the 1990’s you can appreciate that there are other wonders awaiting (re)discovery! It’s really a very exciting area. The Moor Divock Necropolis leaps to mind as an example. A plateau 1000 ft above sea level, where chariots raced through one of Europe’s most interesting funerary complexes.  You could walk through it now without learning a thing about it. Sensitive archaeological exploration and interpretation would be great!  Much of the local archaeology was conducted in previous centuries. Amongst other notable monuments there’s a very rare ‘starfish cairn’ in the form of White Raise.

If farmers / landowners are paid to help maintain heritage sites that would be good, because many are maintaining them for nowt at the moment.

Moor Divock's Standing Stones, site number 4.

Moor Divock’s Standing Stones, site number 4 on Askham Common.

Lodore Falls, dramtically blurred by slow shutterspeed.

Lodore Falls, dramatic waterfall set in lush forest.

There’s certainly plenty of scope for selective reforestation and riparian improvements through re-meandering and restablishing water meadows, otteries, heronrys etc. Eden Rivers Trust have the know how.

Landowners / managers could perhaps be encouraged not to kill otters, foxes, badgers, eagles, harriers etc.  Is there scope for one or two beaveries and bear parks? Lordly stags and sounders of wild pigs might yet have their place.

What do you think?

The White Raise burial cairn has a rare 'starfish' shape.

The White Raise burial cairn has a rare ‘starfish’ shape.

Author with his father at Sinside great circle in Novemeber 2013.

Author with his father at Swinside great circle in November 2013.

Summer Pudding In Appleby, Anyone?Live Music, Circus Acts, Crafts Market, Cake Contest, Family Fun!

THIS SATURDAY: DON’T MISS THE SUMMER PUDDING AT APPLEBY CASTLE

BUY TICKETS NOW

Saturday 20th August COME ALONG, SHOW YOUR SUPPORT  Daytime: 1 Fairytale Castle,  3 Live Music stages, 4 Performance Stages, Funfair, Jaw-dropping Circus Acts, Crafty Vintage Market, Cake Competition, Children’s activities, woodland walk and more.

Night-time: Top festival bands on the inner bailey stage The Correspondents, Gypsy Hill & Sam and The Womp 

www.summerpudding.co.uk

BUY TICKETS NOW

A FLOOD RECOVERY EVENT FOR APPLEBY: COME ALONG, SHOW YOUR SUPPORT

supported by Eden District Council, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, Appleby Town Council, Cumberland & Westmoreland Herald, Country Puddings. An Eden Arts event.

Copyright © 2016 Eden Arts, All rights reserved. You are receiving this email because you have signed up to one of our mailing lists in the past. If you do not wish to continue receiving information from us, please click the unsubscribe button below. Our mailing address is:Eden Arts

Penrith Old Station

Bridge Lane

Penrith, Cumbria CA11 8HY

United Kingdom

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Prehistoric Focus At Bowes Museum In 2015

The Carles of Castlerigg, one of Cumbria's great prehistoric stone circles, dated to about c. 3200 BC Photo and copyright C.Paxton

The Carles of Castlerigg, one of Cumbria’s great prehistoric stone circles, dated to about c. 3200 BC Photo and copyright C.Paxton

I hear that the Bowes Museum, just up the A66, has a family friendly prehistoric focus this month through to September 27th. Prehistoric artifact displays sound very good and there’s even a chance to make your own pottery and crafts prehistoric style! The following itinerary is from The Bowes Museum’s webpage and may be subject to change, so check their Prehistoric People page for the latest information.

Prehistoric Pottery
16 May, 10.00 – 12.30 or 1.30 – 4.00

Adults can enjoy a hands-on experience of with expert Graham Taylor during this practical workshop. Be transported back in time to see authentic prehistoric pottery and explore how people prepared clay to make pots, before creating your own replica. £17.50 per adult, which includes refreshments. To book a place, call 01833 690606; payment is required at the time of booking.

Prehistoric People Crafts
20 July, 6 & 21 August, 10.30 – 3.30

An opportunity to explore the exhibition and to try your hand at making Stone, Bronze and Iron Age inspired creations to take home in this drop in family activity. Children must be accompanied by an adult, for whom normal admission applies.

Stone Age to Iron Age – Family Fun Day
28 July, 11.00 – 4.00

Come along to a day crammed with fun and informative activities, including storytelling with children’s author Adam Bushnell, creating a hunting headdress, making a cave painting and following a themed trail. Children must be accompanied by an adult, for whom normal admission applies.

Creative Cave Painting
14, 24 & 25 August, 
10.30 – 3.30
Enjoy a unique opportunity to create your own cave painting in this exciting drop-in workshop. Children must be accompanied by an adult, for whom normal admission applies.

This may be of interest to Cumbrians and visitors, as we have perhaps the finest prehistoric heritage of any county in the UK.

See what’s happening at http://www.thebowesmuseum.org.uk/en-us/visitus/whatson/prehistoricpeople.aspx

 

Come to Britrocks Music Festival, Saturday 13th Sept. 2 pm to 7 pm at the Auld Acquaintance Cairn, Gretna

The Britrocks Festival Website Image

Click The Image To Visit The Britrocks Festival Website

According to a message from Rory Stewart MP and Hands Across The Border, this Saturday at the Auld Acquaintance Cairn, Gretna, behind the Old Toll House DG16 5JD. you will be welcome to join the free Britrocks Music Festival, bring a picnic and enjoy some great music. See the Britrocks web page .

The Cairn is now the focal point for people who want a united Britain.

In his latest letter Rory says:

“Dear Friends of Hands Across the Border,

We are 6 days away from a decision which could quite simply destroy our country. We cannot let a country that our ancestors sacrificed for so long to build, simply drift away through apathy, complacency and indifference. Instead, let us prove that when our country was at threat, our citizens were still prepared to stand and work together.

The event will be preceded by poetry readings at one o’clock from our especially commissioned poets: Charlotte Higgins and Magnus Dixon. Charlotte won the poetry society’s 2011 competition and has written a remarkable poem about the cairn. At just thirteen years old Magnus was named the 2013 Foyles Young Poet of the Year. He will read about his identity as a Scot and the referendum.This Saturday, we will gather English, Welsh, Irish and Scots, young and old, in solidarity –with optimism, showing, by our presence at the cairn, what a family of nations can mean.

Then at two o’clock we will host the extraordinary BRITROCKS! free music festival.  We will hear everything from Afro-Jazz act the Waaw Waaws based in Edinburgh to the Opera singer Millie Underwood reflecting the diversity of our union. Other acts include The Alleys, Robby Boyd, Reuben Loftus and Christian Moss.  Take a look at the BRIT ROCKS! website (http://www.britrocks.org/) to find out more details.

Please join us.  Be a cairn-builder. Be a builder of the Union.

Very best wishes, and I very much hope to see you  there,

Rory

Also Rory Stewart MP says:

“on Wednesday 17th, the night before the vote, we will be lighting a ‘Beacon for Britain’ at the Cairn. Everyone is also welcome to join us for our candle-lit vigil from 8 until 10 pm on the night of the 18th as we await the result of the referendum after polls have closed.

Let us unite and save our country!

Very best wishes,

Rory

P.S. Here are some thoughts on the strength and flexibility of Scottish identity: http://bit.ly/1rScf2j

Teddy bear picnic and car boot sale on Saturday the 16th of August

I’ve just heard from Hands Across The Border that they’re hosting a teddy bear picnic and car boot sale on Saturday the 16th of August with a BBQ and plenty of opportunities for children to get involved decorating stones to place on the cairn.

The car boot sale will run from 12 until 5pm.

It is £5 to bring your car along and free for visitors.

For directions click here

Do tell your friends about it, they may want to come!

Bring Along Your Stone For ‘Auld Acquaintance’ July 20th Through September

Rory Stewart supporting our community pub

This message in from our MP Rory Stewart (seen here supporting our community pub)

Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your browser.

 

Dear All,

Please come and join us at Gretna on Sunday 20 July, for the laying of the Foundation stone of “the Auld Acquaintance’, and please forward this to others.

We will be gathering from midday and we will put the first stone down for the cairn shortly before 2pm.

It will be an event for young and old, all nations, and people of any political persuasion or none. We will have food, music, activities for children and of course some stones too! (But please bring a stone that means something to you if you can). And if you can’t make the 20th, the site will be open every day through September. Our hope is that people will continue to come every day after the launch day, to keep building up the cairn.

Detailed directions can be found here. The field is right next to the Old Toll House.

If you are unable to attend, but would like to make a contribution to the cairn, however small, we have set up a crowd-funding site here.  It also contains some videos of early supporters.

Thank you again for your support. Do email as always with any thoughts, or suggestions.

Please forward this on to as many people as you can, and please also tweet and retweet with the link www.handsacrosstheborder.co.uk.

We look forward to seeing you there,

Hands Across the Border

 

 follow on Twitter | friend on Facebook | watch on youtube 
Copyright © 2013 Rory Stewart UK, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
rory@rorystewart.co.uk

‘Music for a Summer Evening’, 17th May at 4.30pm, Phoenix Strings at Maulds Meaburn Village Institute

Maulds Meaburn Village Institute, site of a Big Breakfast event

Maulds Meaburn Village Institute

 

The Phoenix String Orchestra

‘Music for a Summer Evening’

 

Saturday, 17th May

at 4.30pm

 

Tickets in advance:  £10-00; £5-00 for 5-11 year olds

Please ring Jane Owen:  01931 715 570

Alex Barbour:  01931 716 001

 

Proceeds will go to St. Lawence Church and Crosby Ravensworth and Maulds Meaburn Village Institute.

 

Pimms, soft drinks and nibbles are included in the ticket price and will be available during the interval.

 

Phoenix Strings was established on the Fylde coast in 2007, they will play light classical music and popular favourites.The Orchestra is proud to support charities, local initiatives and good causes.  John Foster,musical director and conductor, is known both as a performer and teacher throughout Britain and the USA.

 

For more information:  www. phoenixstrings.com

Message From Eden Arts: Woollen Woods! Great Crafts Activities In March and April

Woollen Woods Workshop at Sizergh

5th April 1pm – 4pm
FREE
Come along and help create artworks for the upcoming Woollen Woods exhibition at Sizergh. Hundreds of woollen artworks will be on display in the Knoll at Sizergh from 12th April – 1st September and your creations will feature in the installation!

We will be making felt artworks such as flowers, acorns, tree wraps and butterflies – materials will be provided and activity is suitable for all skill levels. Or bring along your knitting or crochet needles and have a go at one of our patterns!

Drop in – no booking required
Children must be accompanied by an adult. For venue details visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sizergh
Up for Arts Cumbria have been busy encouraging people to take part in The Woollen Woods as part of their BBC Radio Cumbria Up for Arts Campaign. During March they will be running a number of workshops in Cumbria that you can get involved in:
Sat 8th & Sun 9th March: 10.30-1pm at the Ulverston Scrap Store
Join felting tutor Sara Charlesworth of Ulverston’s Stables Gallery to make needle-felted birds to perch in The Woollen Woods or for younger participants, wet-felt a caterpillar and a juicy leaf to hide behind away from those beady-eyed birds. Drop-in workshops – no booking required, donations to cover materials costs – £3 for a small bird or £5 for any super-sized owls.

Sat 15th March: From 10.30am at Westmorland Shopping Centre, Kendal. 
Up for Arts will be at the Westmorland Shopping Centre showcasing Grizedale Forest’s ginormous Knitted Tree! Adrienne Williams from Williams Wools will be running a knitting workshop 10-30am-1pm and the Up for Arts team will be there all day encouraging people to get involved in the project, knitting leaves, flowers and felting acorns too. Drop-in, no booking required.

BBC Radio Cumbria’s Up for Arts project will also be broadcasting live from the workshops. Follow www.facebook.com/upforartscumbria for updates or e-mailjennie.dennett@bbc.co.uk.

Up for Arts is an exciting project which aims to get people involved in the arts and crafts and increase community engagement. – find out more at www.voluntaryarts.org

Enter the Exhibition

If you can’t make it along to workshop then why not create artworks at home or with your craft, school or friends group.

Participants can use any technique to create their woollen artworks but are encouraged to use ‘real’ wool, ideally 100% natural. Wool is a remarkable fibre, which is able to withstand the elements! Previous creations have included owls, bats, insects, flowers and birds and people of any skill level can get involved.

Full details, including the entry form and a selection of free patterns are available on the project website HERE 

The exhibition is non-selective and the deadline for entries is 4th April 2014. The Exhibition will run from 12th April – 1st September 2014 at Sizergh, Nr Kendal – visit their website HERE for venue details. 

www.canopyart.co.uk
www.edenarts.co.uk

Facebook
Facebook
Twitter
Twitter
Website
Website
Pinterest
Pinterest
Copyright © 2014 Eden Arts, All rights reserved.

Ivegill’s Wings Of Peace

'Wings of Peace' an elegant marble sundial by sculptor Brian Cowper  provides a focus for calm contemplation at  Christ's Church in Ivegill.

‘Wings of Peace’ an elegant marble sundial by Sculptor, Brian Cowper provides a focus for calm contemplation at Christ’s Church in Ivegill.

The Eden Valley in Cumbria has some lovely hidden treasures tucked away in the folds of its landscape and recently we have been fortunate to visit some of them.  Christ’s Church in Ivegill is one such. Here, in the nicely tree-shaded churchyard with the gentle sound of the beck in the background we admired Brian Cowper’s ‘Wings Of Peace’ sculptural sundial.

Carved in marble, primarily white with some light smoky grey clouds, the sculpture is topped with a silvery reflecting ball gracefully flanked by the spread of dove’s wings.

Not merely decorative, the Wings Of Peace sculpture is a carefully calibrated instrument – a functional chronometer when the sun shines that marks the passing of time as the shadow sweeps across the wings, the hours being the gaps in the feathers.

The Sculptor, Brian Cowper explained to us that you can’t just buy an off-the-peg sundial from anywhere and expect it to work well by aligning the shadow to the correct time whenever and where-ever you choose to set it down. Very soon the shadow will cease to correspond with the markings for the hours.

In order to work properly as a time-keeper, calculations need to be made for the angle of sunlight at the location of any particular site, and the design of the dial and blade (gnomon) would need to correspond to these, and even then the observer will need to add (and occasionally subtract minutes) as the angle of the sun wanders throughout the year. Brian showed us a graph plotted with a shape similar to a figure of 8 or infinity symbol that shows the recommended time correction day-by-day for this sundial.  This creation is quite an amalgamation of art and science.

With sundials you can see the relationship between location and sun time. It is a funny thought that before the coming of the railways, clock time was set locally and would differ considerably from place to place leading to people sometimes apparently arriving at destinations ‘before’ they had set-off to get there. With fast international Jet travel between time zones you can experience a similar paradox.

Readers may be interested to know that this year marks the 25th Anniversary of The British Sundial Society.