Secretary of State Expands Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks

Limestone pavement on Orton Scar is to be added to the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Photo and copyright C.Paxton.

Limestone pavement on Orton Scar is part of the beautiful Cumbrian countryside that will be enjoined with the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Photo and copyright C . Paxton.

The Secretary of State has decided to approve extensions to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. This follows a long and thorough investigation process launched in 2012 that included public consultations by surveys and public meetings into the desirability of the areas that were under consideration for selection by Natural England to be designated National Park status. Together the LDNP and YDNP form a huge protected area that covers much of the best countryside of the ancient British Kingdom of Brigantia.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park boundary has expanded by about 25%, adding some delightful parts of Cumbria that were formerly assigned to old Westmorland. Indeed some of the most beautiful places in YDNP are Cumbrian. These new Westmorland additions are landscapes of wild beauty in the case of the upland limestone moorland of Crosby Ravensworth Fell, Great Asby and Orton Scar. Here ravens soar over prehistoric cairn circles such as the White Hag,  and stone circles such as Gamelands and Oddendale, and funerary Cairn circle mounds like Penhurrock where bones of abnormal size were said to have been unearthed. These moors are reputedly haunted by a headless horseman on Gaythorne Plain.

I’ll be adding more pictures to this page in weeks to come that will hopefully convey some of this area’s charming qualities.

Where the newly added Dales are concerned, they are rich in old world, ‘Hobbity’ appeal – Orton with its lovely village shop and chocolate factory, Crosby Ravensworth with the winding Llyvennet river, where King Urien of Rheged supposedly best loved to unwind and The Butchers Arms Community Pub.  Maulds Meaburn with its delightful riparian village green dotted with lambs.

Though not within the National Park itself, the Market Town of Appleby-in-Westmorland, is well worth a visit too.

Not only are these additions very delightful landscapes in their own right, many also contain sites of great antiquity and other cultural treasures and have been rightly identified as having superb recreational value.

You can read the letters from the Right Honourable Elizabeth Truss MP Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs here

and view the maps here

Fancy photographing Raptors With The Toons At Silverband ?

Few wildlife photographers have won so much praise for their work as Ann and Steve Toon. The active couple are conservation photographers famed particularly for their work with rhinos.

The husband and wife team will hold a Raptors Workshop Jun 26, Jul 31, Aug 7 in the Eden Valley, Cumbria. The Toons will team up with Silverband Falconry for what promises to be an amazing day of hawk and owl photography including Tawny , Barn , Snowy , European Eagle and Little Owls, also Kestrel, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and others, all for £120*.

Wild Open Eye - Natural Vision, News from Wild Open Eye

White rhinos, Ceratotherium simum, Hlane Royal National Park game reserve, Swaziland, Africa “Project African Rhino came about because we’ve been passionate about rhinos since the first time we saw them in the wild.” Ann and Steve Toon photo and copyright.

Wildopeneye talks with Ann and Steve Toon, founders of Project African Rhino about what makes them ‘click’. 

Images are all copyright Ann and Steve Toon.

Ann Toon photographing white rhino at Hlane game reserve, Swaziland Ann Toon photographing white rhino at Hlane game reserve, Swaziland

Wildopeneye first heard of the enterprising husband and wife photographic team via a promising news release on their Project African Rhino website and was immediately impressed by the Toons’ use of multimedia photojournalism to raise the profile of African Rhino conservation work.

You may well have seen and admired their work yourselves over recent years as their outstanding nature photographs have appeared in a variety of prestigious and influential magazines and other news media in service of environmental education. The award-winning pair sell images directly from their online data-base and via specialist agencies and…

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Treasures Of Cumbria – a new online cultural resource

What do you treasure in Cumbria? Treasures of Cumbria is a new online cultural resource launched in January 2014 by The Cumbria Museum Consortium. It is, in a sense, an extra-mural extension of the museums into cyber-space – a website serving as a public archive of the Cumbrian things, places, memories, people, songs, poetry, recipes and traditions that people think are special, worth sharing and preserving.  Even the soundscapes, such as the sound of  a water wheel turning at Little Salkeld Mill and interesting memories recounted, such as The Mysterious Fire of Morecambe Bay are treasures that people value and that deserve preservation. They have meaning and lasting value.

A classical example of a Cumbrian treasure preserved for the county on this system is the wonderful Roman cavalry sports helmet that was found recently at Crosby Garrett, and displayed at Tullie House before leaving Cumbria forever.

How many more treasures are out there to be revealed? This is going to be a very interesting and valuable resource.

Enabling technologies

The digital revolution enables people to enjoy and share the things that they value in multi-media format – images, text, video and audio recordings. Treasures of Cumbria is a remarkable project that harnesses the recent developments in consumer-level digital equipment and information technology in a highly accessible way. The content management system is free to use and accessible to people of all ages and walks of life. It is likely to be highly useful to communities that wish to celebrate their distinctive qualities. A key thing to remember is that we must respect Copyright law and not copy material from existing publications whose copyright has not expired. There is some guidance on that on the website. Contributors retain copyright for their contributions but allow CMC copyright for them too.

Tullie House Staff Introduce Treasures of Cumbria at Lyvennet Activity Group Lunch Club

Proof came that there’s no age limit to the digital revolution on Thursday, February 6th, as staff from Carlisle’s Tullie House Museum visited The Lyvennet Activity Group’s Lunch Club (LAG) at The Butchers Arms Community Pub and explained the Treasures of Cumbria project after a nice sociable lunch. The staff demonstrated use of the website on their iPad tablets, and on lap-top computer equipment kindly provided to LAG by Cumbria Community Foundation‘s  Health and Well-being Community Fund administered by Action For Communities in Cumbria (ACT).

Treasures of Cumbria website being introduced to members of The Lyvennet Activity Group at the Lunch Club at The Butchers Arms Crosby Ravensworth. Staff from Carlisle's Tullie House demonstrated use of the website on iPads.

Treasures of Cumbria website being introduced to members of The Lyvennet Activity Group at the Lunch Club at The Butchers Arms Crosby Ravensworth. Mary Ferguson and Maria Staff from Carlisle’s Tullie House, Maria and Mary demonstrate use of the website on iPads.

The staff explained that we can use the system to celebrate the things that we treasure here and make them known to others by registering as a contributor and uploading photographs and information about each treasure.

As anyone who knows Cumbria knows very well – we do have a lot of treasures around here; the physical include those that are primarily natural, our fells, valleys, rivers, lakes, fields and forests, to things cultural: our glorious monuments ancient to modern, our many stone circles, castles, Churches  and superb Cathedral and our traditions and memories.

The new website has been launched but will be subject to improvements over time as and when the need becomes apparent. The address is:

  1. To publish your treasures you need to register with the system, the process of registration is very easy.
  2. Then you enter your profile information,
  3. Click on the “Add a Treasure” button and upload your media and related information for the treasure.

An important feature on the site is the map that shows people where the treasures are in the County.

There are various ways you can browse for treasures. You can use the map to discover them or search by contributor or view the treasures in order of popularity and date added to the system.

Tullie House and Art Gallery Trust in Carlisle is the lead partner and accountable body for the partnership which includes  Lakeland Arts in Kendal and Bowness and the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere. This Consortium is funded by Arts Council England ( through their Renaissance Major Grants Programme.  

The CMC partners own website addresses written out are: , and

To conclude I quote the important message from the new website that hopefully will encourage you to record your treasures large and small:

          A treasure is something that’s meaningful to you.

Brougham Hall – treasures and treats for visitors to Cumbria

The Tudor Hall and main gate at historic Brougham Hall

The Tudor Hall and main gate at historic Brougham Hall

“Andy Luck and I looked into historic Brougham Hall last weekend. Andy was testing some rather fine digital cameras for technical review articles in Cumbria for Outdoor Photography and Black and White Photographer magazines.  You’ll have to read the magazines for his reviews and technical insights, but can view some of his images on wildopeneye blog.  From photographing wild flower meadows and dry stone walls in the Westmorland Fells and a sweeping vista of cotton grass framed by Scots pines at Cliburn Moss we had a big appetite for the tasty smoked chicken and mayo baguettes and elderflower cordial at Brougham Hall’s Fusion Cafe.

Delicious smoked Chicken baguette from fusion cafe at Brougham Hall

Delicious smoked Chicken baguette from Fusion Cafe at Brougham Hall

I’d been a few times before, on one occasion to see a fine performance of Romeo & Juliet here, it’s an excellent theatrical venue and the nicely mixed G&Ts added to the enjoyment!
Brougham Hall is open to the public while being lovingly restored and is host to an artisan community of potters, photographers and a jewellery designer. It is also home to House Martins Delichon urbicum. There’s a very pleasant atmosphere and lots of nice photographic subjects.


It was a great lunch. Elderflower cordial is, to my mind, the quintessential taste of English Summer and the tender, juicy smoked breast of chicken in freshly made crusty granary baguette went down very well indeed, they are a nice combination of flavours. Helpful, friendly staff too. Thumbs up for the Fusion Cafe!
Andy Luck of Wildopeneye photographing Martins at Brougham Hall

Andy Luck of Wildopeneye photographing Martins at Brougham Hall

One Martin coming, one going, both carrying construction mud. Odd!

One Martin coming, one going, both carrying construction mud. Odd!

House Martins collecting mud

House Martins collecting mud

It was lunch with a show, thanks to the Hirundines. If our lunch was interrupted a bit, by the bird life, Andy and I certainly weren’t complaining, and we didn’t suffer hiccups despite our repeated attempts to capture images of the graceful Martins, swooping in flight over our heads between bites and swigs. They were impossible to resist.

Andy was using an enormous Nikon with a lens like a bazooka. The sight seemed very apt to me, considering that Brougham Hall had been a secret base, developing specialist tanks with giant search lights in weapons testing that took place here during the Second World War. I wonder what Mr. Churchill would have made of Andy tracking the birds with his giant telephoto zoom?

Andy Luck and Nikon with enormous telephoto zoom lens

Andy Luck and Nikon with enormous telephoto zoom lens

Punctuating our meal with attempts to photograph these charming and very agile aerodynamics was rather fun. The Martins and some swifts were busy in the process of nest building, at the same time a young restoration builder was at work mixing cement, these birds were landing just in front of us and picking up mud in their bills to apply to the stone walls in a constant relay.
The industrious avian efforts delightfully coincide with Brougham Hall’s human restoration project. In tandem, the respective structures are being rebuilt. The people have achieved a lot since my last visit. Cobbles have been revealed in the courtyard and the Chancellor’s office is much further restored.
Brougham Hall’s high castle walls rise sheer above a great brazen beast mask door knocker (a replica of Durham Cathedral’s famous sanctuary knocker). The Hall began life as a medieval fortified manor and was updated over the ensuing centuries, witnessing the bloody civil war battle of Clifton Moor below its ramparts.


Ramparts reputedly haunted, I should add. Like every good castle, Brougham Hall has its ghost stories and its treasures.
Unlike other good castles, Brougham Hall has treasures that you can take away with you. Treasures from the artisan community that works within the castellated walls.
There’s silver and golden jewellery here, created by contemporary designer and maker Susan Clough. She and Professional Photographer and writer Simon Whalley were enjoying a coffee on a bench outside her studio cum shop Silver Susan. We struck up conversation, initially about the Martins.
She noted that the birds had been busy for a while on their nests but had little to show for it. The photo above may explain why progress wasn’t as advanced as she expected, as one bird goes in with a beakful of mud, another can be seen emerging with a beakful, presumably carrying it off to build a nest elsewhere!
Silver Susan flanked by Chimaera  in her studio at Brougham Hall

Silver Susan flanked by Chimaera in her studio at Brougham Hall

Talk then turned to the distinctive spiral pendant around her neck, one of her creations. Susan explained the appeal of crafting jewellery “I find working with metal very satisfying,” she says “I love the quality of the metal. Silver, gold, even brass. In my designs, I try to bring out the essential character of each metal ” It’s a love that shines through in the fluid designs, we discovered, as we looked in on her studio shop and admired her craft work.
Silver Susan at work in her studio.

Silver Susan at work in her studio.

The striking silver necklace of rings pictured here is an exemplar of the collection. In keeping with the quirky surprises that Brougham Hall offers the visitor (the ice house, knocker, the chapel accessed by bridge and a sculpture of Christ in crucifixion) the doorway to her craft work shop is flanked by an extraordinarily buxom pair of  stone Chimaera excavated from the woods nearby. The craft community also assist in the reconstruction. Susan has helped excavate the cobbled courtyard.
Silver treasure at Brougham Hall,by Silver Susan

Silver treasure at Brougham Hall,by Silver Susan

Before departing to the Lakeland Fells for our own photography, we looked in on Simon Whalley’s photographic gallery.
Simon Whalley, Writer and Photographer at ease in his lovely studio at Brougham Hall.

Simon Whalley, Writer and Photographer at ease in his lovely studio at Brougham Hall.

Simon Whalley is a photographer and writer. In his gallery, Simon’s explorations into Man’s connection with nature and harmony are displayed in lovely surroundings. Simon’s writing and photographic work focuses on the relationships between landscape and human interactions.  We saw an exhibition there featuring his Spirit of Hartside project, the resulting book Spirit of Hartside captures exactly that. If you are familiar with Hartside you will very likely enjoy it, and for those new to the famous viewpoint, it makes a good introduction. It is available from his shop and can also be ordered from his website, which you might also find is worth an exploratory visit.
 Simon is currently working on a book about the Settle Carlisle Railway that promises similarly to capture the spirit of the line and how it connects with the landscape.
His gallery is open from 11 am to 5 pm.
We moved on from Brougham Hall, refreshed, inspired and fond of the place and the people there.
Watch out for images of Brougham Hall from Andy Luck’s visit in Outdoor Photography magazine