A celebration of the landscapes, culture, heritage and people of Cumbria and the Lake District.
Countrystride #81: Cumbrian dialect
...in which we trace the rise and fall of local dialect in the company of long-time friends and Cumbriana champions Jean Scott-Smith and Donald Angus. On a journey that begins with the earliest Celtic settlers, we learn how Angle and Norse immigrants left their mark in the language of landcape; we mull the meanings of Blencathra, Wetherlam, Coniston and Catstycam; we hear how Donald perplexed walkers by posting a National Park weather forecast in dialect; and – after a nostalgic diversion to consider unlikely Cumbrian remedies and the 'mobile bomb' dangers of petrol irons – we bow out with two note-perfect renditions of dialect poems.
You can find out more about the Lakeland Dialect Society at www.lakelanddialectsociety.co.uk
Countrystride #80: ILLGILL HEAD - In search of the sublime
...in which we set out from the secluded valley of Miterdale for a wet-weather ascent of Whin Rigg and Illgill Head. As we walk, with author and Lakeland Walker columnist George Kitching, we explore the concept of the 'sublime' – the awe-rooted spiritual response to mountain scenery first identified in 18th century philosophy. Tracing the sublime through early Lakeland guidebooks, we enter the Romantic era to arrive at Scafell Crag and the writings of Alfred Wainwright. With a backdrop of ever-shifting cloudscapes atop Wastwater's tumbling screes, we consider the Beckside Boggle, the historic 'earth spirit' stronghold of remote Wasdale, and the tragic tale of French student Veronique Marre.
You can explore George's excellent 'Lakeland Walking Tales' at http://www.lakelandwalkingtales.co.uk
Countrystride #79: Arthur Ransome - Life, loves & literature
...in which we descend upon Coniston Water to talk all things Ransome with lifelong Swallows and Amazons devotees Paul Flint and Geraint Lewis. Embarking from Bank Ground – a familiar location to the young Arthur – we journey past springtime Brantwood before crossing to Coniston on Gondola, one of the inspirations for Captain Flint's houseboat. As we travel, we learn about formative Nibthwaite holidays in which Ransome fell in love with Lakeland; we talk about the Great Freeze of 1895, which an unhappy schoolboy was to return to with nostalgia in Winter Holiday; we discuss Russian adventures and the lure of Bohemia; and we discover why lifelong wanderer Ransome – who suffered ill health for much of his adult life – never quite found home. We close, besides Titty's grave, with a favourite Ransome excerpt from each of our guests.
Paul and Geraint are trustees of the Arthur Ransome Trust. You can find out more about their work at arthur-ransome-trust.org.uk
The exhibition 'Swallows and Amazons as Seen from Abroad' will run at Brantwood Saturday 18 June – Tuesday 9 August.
An App featuring locations from the novels will soon available via arthur-ransome-trust.org.uk
Countrystride #78: The Carlisle-Settle line & springtime in Eden
...in which we take a springtime stroll from Langwathby to Lazonby in the company of author Stan Abbot to track the route of the Carlisle-Settle line, one of Britain's most treasured railways. As we stroll, through sandstone villages immersed in birdsong, into age-old alder carr and over busy becks, we learn about the navvy construction of this most iconic of lines, and of the Blea Moor shantytowns in which drunkenness and disease ran rife; we relish the pastural loveliness of backwater Eden; we consider a perfect Lakeland day in Newlands; we discuss the six-year campaign that saved the railway – alongside Michael Portillo's ambiguous role in it; and, arriving at Long Meg and her Daughters, one of the UK's oldest stone circles, a poetic Mark ponders 'the enormity of time and our quiet little place in it'.
You can buy Stan's book Walking the Line from Saraband. His new book (out in April) is Ring of Stone Circles, also published by Saraband.
Countrystride #77: Fell ponies – On Roundthwaite Common with Libby Robinson
...in which we depart busy Tebay to climb atop biting cold Rondthwaite Common on a trip to meet some of Cumbria's oldest residents: the Globetrotter fell ponies – roamers of the uplands since time immemorial. As we trail above the 'other Borrowdale' with long-time fell pony champion Libby Robinson, we hear about the moment in Kentmere, aged eight, when Libby first fell for the semi-wild breed; we reminisce about a Lakeland childhood – otters under the bridge, minnows from the tap; we look back at the remarkable industrial history of the pony, and the part it played in the north's historic economy; finally, we consider what role the pony might play in 21st-century Lakeland.
You can find out more about Libby and her ponies at facebook.com/GlobetrotterStud
Libby is campaigning to establish a Fell Pony Heritage Centre. You can found our more here.
If you enjoy this podcast, Libby – and many other people involved with the fell pony breed – can be found on Tom Lloyd's superb Fell Pony podcast.
Countrystride #76: Wild Fell – Restoring Haweswater, with Lee Schofield
...in which we explore the lonely eastern valley of Haweswater, where one of the Lake District's largest landscape-scale restoration projects is being managed by author and ecologist Lee Schofield. Celebrating the publication of Lee's new book Wild Fell, we set out from sunshine-bathed Naddle Farm to visit a range of projects – from tree nurseries to reborn tarns – that showcase the RSPB and United Utilities' vision of marrying light-touch farming with ecological recovery. As we wander, we recall the declining years of England's last golden eagle, we seek the ghosts of beasts that once roamed the fells, we consider why fighting for change in a heritage landscape can be a lonely – sometimes bruising – business, and we learn why Lee sees hope taking root across the Lakes.
Lee's book Wild Fell is available in bookshops and online.
More about Wild Haweswater can be found here
For anyone who adores Cumbria and the Lakes
I love this podcast. I’m Lancashire based but up in the fells whenever I can. The podcast gives so much insight into the landscape, people and history of Cumbria. If you love this special place then I’d highly recommend listening.
This podcast is an excellent listen to those who love Cumbria. The subject matter is suitably varied, inclusive and engaging and makes a dark cold night here in Lincolnshire a pleasure. Keep up the good work!
Nothing else evokes the voices, the sights and the sounds of Cumbria like this podcast. SUCH a treat to listen to.