Countrystride
Countrystride #73: Millican Dalton - ’Caveman of Borrowdale’

Countrystride #73: Millican Dalton - ’Caveman of Borrowdale’

January 21, 2022
...in which we follow in the footsteps of one of Lakeland's great characters – and neglected icons – Millican Dalton, the self-styled Professor of Adventure. In the company of researcher and 'M.D.' authority Matthew Entwistle, we wend our way from Rosthwaite into Wainwright's 'loveliest square mile' to consider the early life of the Dalton family, who swapped the big skies of Nenthead for smog in London. Summitting Castle Crag, we trace Millican Dalton north as he quits the nine-to-five and embarks on a lifetime of adventure in the Lake District, where – among other firsts – he pioneers adventure holidays, mixed-sex camping parties, lightweight clothing... and possibly the humble pair of shorts. Seeking out the Borrowdale cave that was his summer home for over 50 years, we learn about fires on Napes Needle, letters to Churchill, the lost chasms of Dove's Nest and finding solace in nature, before pondering two unsolved mysteries: what happened to the book left at Dalton's hospital bedside?; and where is his grave?
Countrystride #72: Review of 2021

Countrystride #72: Review of 2021

December 31, 2021
...in which we are joined by Lakeland Walker editor John Manning for our annual delve into Countrystrides past, picking our best bits from 2021 as we chat about everything from wad to Wainwright; plums to proms; lost histories to laudanum; flower meadows to farming; before naming our favourite walks of the year. As we hear from, among others, Joss Naylor, Kathleen Jones, Richard Leafe, Danny Teasdale, Helen Guy, Mark Hatton and John Dunning, we ponder the unspoken rules of conversation on the fells, consider whether transport charging could alleviate congestion in the National Park, and celebrate egrets in Matterdale. Wishing all of our listeners, subscribers and Patreon supporters a very Happy New Year. We look forward to joining you again in January :-)
Countrystride #71: A Lake District Christmas

Countrystride #71: A Lake District Christmas

December 16, 2021
...in which we take a seasonal Grasmere wander in the company of historian, journalist and collector of Cumbrian cultural traditions, Alan Cleaver. Striking up moss-cloistered Huntingstile ('stile' means steep), we discuss the seasonal ballad 'Down t' Lonnin', recited each year by the Grasmere Players – and read to us by Elaine Nelson of Sam Read bookshop. Failing to persuade Alan to sing Arthur Somervell's 'Grasmere Carol', we arrive above Red Bank to reflect on seasonal misrule and authority attempts to ban all manner of Cumbrian fun – from snowball fights in 1840s Workington, to bringing pistols to school in 1700s Carlisle. Descending down icy Easedale, we learn about the Christmas tragedy of the Green family, and consider how the children – fending for themselves as their parents perished – became a model of Victorian fortitude. In fading light, we arrive at Allan Bank, where local lad Paul Nelson reads Hardwicke Rawnsley's evocative description of the Keswick 'old folks Christmas do'.
Countrystride #70: Caldbeck - A community through time

Countrystride #70: Caldbeck - A community through time

December 10, 2021
…in which we descend from the Outlying Fells summit of Faulds Brow into the Back o’Skiddaw village of Caldbeck with local historian Tony Vaux to take a long view of a community through time. From the Brow – with a remarkable view into Galloway – we reach farmed country, where fortified barns tell of riever raids and the hue-and-cry that once mustered resistance. Entering the village, we unearth the clay-dubbin heritage of the duck pond and learn why human urine was once in high demand. Ambling upstream, we come upon the bobbin mill – a remarkable remnant of industrial Caldbeck, when dozens of pubs and mills served hundreds of workers. Discovering why tungtsen from the Caldbeck fells – initally plundered for armour plating by German miners – helped turn the tide of World War I, we close with reflections on the village’s most famous son, and learn why John Peel’s coat was never meant to be ‘gay’, but Herdwick ‘Hodden’ grey.
  • You can buy Tony’s book ‘Caldbeck: A Special Part of Lakeland' (£9 plus P&P) by emailing him direct at vauxt@aol.com.
Countrystride #69: Blencathra with Andy Airey

Countrystride #69: Blencathra with Andy Airey

November 26, 2021
...in which we summit one of Lakeland's finest heights via the rocky arête of Halls Fell Ridge with Threlkeld born-and-bred Andy Airey. After grappling with local pronunciations, we hear about the outdoor freedoms of a Lakeland childhood; we learn that Father Christmas lives on Great Mell Fell; and we explore the merits of each route onto Saddleback. Approaching the summit on a picture-perfect autumn evening, conversation turns to Andy's daughter Sophie, who took her life in December 2018. In a frank discussion about suicide, about the need to talk with young people and about healing though walking, we move on to consider the '3 Dads Walking' campaign, in which Andy and two other suicide-bereaved fathers walked 324 miles in memory of their daughters – and captured the attention of millions around the world.
Countrystride #68: Richard Leafe - The National Park at 70

Countrystride #68: Richard Leafe - The National Park at 70

November 12, 2021
...in which we celebrate the 70th birthday of the Lake District National Park by climbing Orrest Head with Park Authority chief executive Richard Leafe. Exploring a new, accessible route to the summit – a re-discovered track used by Victorian charabancs – we consider the challenge of finding a policy sweet-spot that takes into account conservation, farming, community and business; we discover what drives Richard after 14 years in the job; we talk about ski-ing the front face of Helvellyn; and we pose a series of questions from listeners, including 'Should we charge cars to enter the Park?', 'Have we reached peak tourism?', 'Should 4x4s be on green lanes?' and 'Would the Park have granted planning permission for house boats on Grasmere?'
Countrystride #67: Ghosts on the coast

Countrystride #67: Ghosts on the coast

October 29, 2021
...in which we stride out from the dunes of Drigg, destination Ravenglass, to celebrate the opening of the first Cumbrian stretch of the English Coast Path. In the company of Ange Harker – Lead Adviser on Natural England’s North West Coastal Access team – we discuss the grand vision of the 2,795-mile long-distance path, latest to join the country's family of national trails, and hear about her favourite stretches, including isolated Cumbrian beaches that have never before enjoyed public access. Then, joining Peter Frost-Pennington on the approach to Ravenglass, we learn about the village's history as a thriving Roman port then busy medieval thoroughfare before encountering remnants of the Esk's once-bounteous salmon garth. Finally, mists cloaking the Lakeland fells, we end our journey at Muncaster Castle – seat of the Penningtons and one of the country's most haunted homes – to enjoy a Hallowe'en ghost story...
 
Countrystride#66: Eskdale - Rain & recollections

Countrystride#66: Eskdale - Rain & recollections

October 15, 2021
...in which we embark on a wild, wet-weather wander from Boot in Eskdale to explore the valley's folk history through the memories of residents. Striding out from Boot Inn, we talk with Patricia Nolan, whose mother once owned the Post Office, about an Eskdale childhood. And after rising by Eel Tarn to seek Aga-side shelter at Howes Farm, we talk with Janet and Noel Baines about a lifetime farming on Scafell. As we cross boggy Great Barrow, we discuss the names of locations from Doctor Bridge to Peel Place Noddle; we learn about long journeys on the Whitehaven bus – and the intoxicated trips home; we wonder why Wainwright overlooked striking Great Howe; we talk soggy bottoms in the Eskdale Show; and we consider why this long-isolated valley evokes such strong feelings of home.
Countrystride #65: The passionate sisterhood - Sisters and wives of the Lake Poets

Countrystride #65: The passionate sisterhood - Sisters and wives of the Lake Poets

October 1, 2021
...in which we stroll out from rainy Keswick with author and Back o' Skiddaw native, Kathleen Jones, to discuss the women in the lives of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey – sisters and wives whose stories have been lost in the margins of history. As we wander past Greta Hall – one-time home of the Southey and Coleridge families – we learn about the remarkable 'constellation' of young idealists (and orphans) who made Lakeland home; we consider the intense, often strained relationships between the group; we talk about opium addiction, domestic drudgery and chronic illness; we discuss long walks and constricted creative talents; and – arriving at Derwent Water as a storm brews down Borrowdale – we consider the key role played by the oft-lonely women in holding the group together, long after the men had fallen out.
Countrystride #64: Joss Naylor

Countrystride #64: Joss Naylor

September 17, 2021
…in which we head to Wasdale in the company of farmer, fell runner and Lakeland royalty Joss Naylor to discuss his legendary 1983 ‘Lakes, Meres and Waters’ run. In a wander onto the slopes of Buckbarrow – a patch of ground Joss has nurtured over decades – we discuss his 105-mile ‘day of magic’ run from Loweswater to Over Water whose time has never been bettered; we talk about the Iron Man's lifelong love of Wasdale; we recall a childhood of perilous school commutes and terrifying operations; we consider the healing properties of Guinness; we take a crash-course in Herdwick contraception... and we learn why a love of Lakeland solitude is key to his achievements as a long-distance runner.
  • 'Joss Naylor's Lakes, Meres and Waters of the Lake District' is published by Cicerone. You can find it here. It comes highly recommended.
  • Thanks to co-author Viv Crow for walking and talking with us on the podcast. Viv can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/viviennecrow
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