A celebration of the landscapes, culture, heritage and people of Cumbria and the Lake District.
Countrystride #54: Damsons of the Lyth Valley
…in which we journey south to the snow-blossomed Lyth Valley to unearth the heritage of damson plums with long-time friends and local lads Desmond Holmes and Hartley Trotter. As shadows lengthen over the peat-cut mosses, we take a trip down memory lane, considering the history of the nutty-flavoured ‘Shropshire prune’ - from its use in the Kendal tanning trade to its long association with northern jam; we hear tales of the families, prisoners of war and Land Girls who picked the fruit; we reminisce about bonfires on Whitbarrow, Melvyn's Mobile Cinema and threshing-day hotpots; and we discover why retirement is still a long way off for the two octogenarians…
You can buy damson suckers and frozen damsons, and find out more about the fruit from the Westmorland Damson Association: www.lythdamsons.org.uk/damsonday
Countrystride #53: The lost history of hill farming
...in which we head to Borrowdale in Westmorland with author and dry-stone waller Terry McCormick to uncover the lost history of hill farming. As we explore one of Lakeland's quietest valleys, we take the long view of a turbulent history, starting with the David vs Goliath battle of the Kendal Tenant Rights Dispute 1619–1626 that established the pattern of resilient farmsteads still operating today; we consider why writers – from Wordsworth to Wainwright – have frequently misunderstood or ignored the lives of upland farmers; we ponder how a new golden age of farming literature – championed by James Rebanks – can co-exist with the closure of Newton Rigg; and we discover why Terry's new vocation as a waller ('Aim for beauty; settle for strength') at the age of 55 felt like coming home.
Terry's book, Lake District Fell Farming - Historical and Literary Perspectives 1750-2017, can be bought from Bookcase.
Countrystride #52: Cumbria Way with Paddy Dillon
...in which we track the undulating west shore of Coniston Water from Sunny Bank to Coniston Hall with backpacker, long-distance walker and prolific outdoors author Paddy Dillon. As we wander, through woods and over meadows, we discuss the origins and delights of the Cumbria Way – the Lakes' only dedicated long-distance footpath; we challenge Paddy to sum-up each of the UK's National Trails in just one word; we consider why patience may be the best approach to tackling problem campers; and we discuss two great Lakeland eccentrics: W. A. Poucher and George Constantinescu.
Paddy's guide to the Cumbria Way, published by Rucksack Readers, can be bought from www.rucsacs.com/book/cumbria-way/
You can find Paddy's extensive list of Cicerone-published titles at https://www.cicerone.co.uk/authors/paddy-dillon
The Backpackers Club can be found at http://www.backpackersclub.co.uk
Countrystride #51: Skiddaw House - Loneliest house in England
...in which we enter wild country at the Back o'Skiddaw to visit Skiddaw House - the loneliest house in England. As we wander, with former wardens Martin Webster and Marie-Pierre Gaudez, we talk through the history of the one-time hunting lodge, learn about the icy perils of Whitewater Dash, discuss the off-grid practicalities of living and working four miles from the nearest road – and discover what it takes to turn a House into a home.
Skiddaw House can be found and booked online at www.skiddawhouse.co.uk
John Martin's excellent history of Skiddaw House, The Loneliest House in England, is available by emailing the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Countrystride #50: The young people of Cumbria
...in which we celebrate our 50th birthday by handing the microphone to the next generation, as we hear from three young people with a passion for Cumbria and the Lake District. In a wide-ranging chat with poet Matt Sowerby from Kirkby Lonsdale, film-maker Rachel Jessett from Kendal and TV producer Rachel Owen from the University of Cumbria, we discuss walking and mental health; we ask what role Cumbria can play in tackling climate change and biodiversity loss; we consider northern identity and ask why the north is underrepresented in national politics and media; we brainstorm policies that might keep more young people in the county; and each guest recommends a walk, pub and place that they love.
You can find Matt at https://www.mattsowerby.co.uk and at https://twitter.com/HopepunkPlanet
You can find Rachel Owen at https://twitter.com/rachelowenmedia
Countrystride #49: Wainwright on Haystacks - An anniversary retrospective
...in which we commemorate the 30th anniversary of Alfred Wainwright's passing by taking a virtual stroll to Innominate Tarn with archivist Chris Butterfield and long-time AW film-maker Richard Else. As we wander – through the history of the Pictorial Guides and AW's television career – we discuss what makes the Guides so unique; we talk about the emergence of an unlikely cult personality; we hear why the great fell-wanderer was almost certainly on the autistic spectrum; we trace AW's final steps onto his beloved Haystacks; and we pose the question: 'Was AW a genius?'
Richard's book, Wainwright Revealed, can be bought from all good bookshops.
Chris's Facebook Group, Alfred Wainwright Books & Memorabilia, can be found at https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/AlfredWainwright/
Can’t praise the content and production of these podcasts highly enough! Thoroughly engaging, poignant, joyful - a soothing balm and detailed chronicle of the county. I enjoy most episodes multiple times and often recommend to others. Thankyou both for the time you invest in these.
This is a wonderful podcast. Every episode evokes a picture of the countryside. The descriptions are enthralling and the guests are knowledgable. History is brought to life by the presenters and guests. Every aspect of the countryside is covered, not just the pretty side seen in tourist magazines but the real countryside. Well done.
Great podcast to take you to the lakes
A great series taking in all aspects of the Lake District. Not just the landscape but history, geography and literature - just wonderful