Countrystride
Countrystride #39: Thirlmere - and the flooding of a valley

Countrystride #39: Thirlmere - and the flooding of a valley

October 16, 2020
…in which we take an autumnal wander along the wooded west shore of Thirlmere, the reservoir that displaced a close-knit pastoral community to fulfil 19th century Manchester’s ever-growing thirst for water.
 
As we walk, we learn from author and one-time vicar of the parish Geoff Darrell about the valley as it once was: the patchwork fields, twin lakes, Wath bridge and diminutive settlement of City.
 
Then, as we reach the lakeshore – walls from a past age slipping under the waves – we hear from former Friends of the Lake District Director Ian Brodie about the grand ambitions, political manoeuvres and clandestine gambles that would flood a valley, divide the nation and lead, in time, to the establishment of national parks and the emergence of conservation movements worldwide.
 

Countrystride #38: James Rebanks - English Pastoral

Countrystride #38: James Rebanks - English Pastoral

October 7, 2020
...in which we head to Matterdale for a guided tour of James Rebanks' hill farm. As we explore thriving meadows, newly-dug ponds and scrub-fringed becks, we discuss James' latest book, English Pastoral, and the "beautiful compromise" of sustainably stewarding the land. Taking a three generation view of farming in Matterdale and the Eden Valley, we hear why there's fire in the belly of young shepherds, why talk of the 'sheepwrecked uplands' is wide of the mark, why Beatrix Potter is James' writing heroine – and why Cumbria's best food is to be had at The Little Chippy, Penrith.
Countrystride #37: Hardwicke Rawnsley - Lakeland champion

Countrystride #37: Hardwicke Rawnsley - Lakeland champion

September 11, 2020
...in which we celebrate the remarkable life of Canon Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley, campaigner, author and co-founder of the National Trust. As we wander from Rawnsley's old parish church of St Kentigern's, Crosthwaite, into Keswick, we chat with publisher and bookseller Stephen Matthews about the poet-priest's many passions – from rural crafts to Skiddaw bonfires; about the 'muscular Christianity' that made the Wolds-born orator a man of the people, and of the tireless campaigning punctuated by depressions that sealed Rawnsley's legacy as a Cumbrian Great.

Countrystride #36: A Walney Wander

Countrystride #36: A Walney Wander

August 28, 2020
...in which we journey to the Isle of Walney in Cumbria's deep south for a salt-laced amble through its unique landscape, wildlife and heritage. In the company of Cumbria Wildlife Trust's Jamie Normington and local lass Helen Wall, we admire Walney's beloved wildflowers, learn about the UK's only female lighthouse keeper, consider the unsung protective role Walney played in World War II and seek out members of the island's lonely-hearts seal colony.
Countrystride #35: The children’s literature of Lakeland

Countrystride #35: The children’s literature of Lakeland

August 14, 2020
...in which we take a nostalgia-laced wander through the children’s literature of Lakeland with University of Cumbria’s Dr Penny Bradshaw. On a balmy Black Crag circular with majestic views of iconic locations in fiction – from Arthur Ransome’s Coniston Water to Marjorie Lloyd’s 'Fell Farm' – we consider the legacy of Wordsworth and his vision of childhood, unnpick the strands that made Beatrix Potter’s work unique, discuss why literature from the county casts such an enduring spell and hear how a wartime evacuation from the Manchester slums lies behind Penny’s own love of the Lakes.

 

Countrystride #34: Caring for the commons- A view from Newlands

Countrystride #34: Caring for the commons- A view from Newlands

July 31, 2020
...in which we make the short, sweet ascent of Knott Rigg with Foundation for Common Land Executive Director Dr Julia Aglionby. Enjoying views over Newlands and Buttermere, we discuss the importance of England's historic common land, learn how Cumbria's commoners shape the landscape, tackle the thorny issue of rewilding and consider how we might shape a nature-rich, culture-rich Lake District as we enter the most challenging period facing our uplands since the Second World War.
 
Countrystride #33: A brief history of Cumbria

Countrystride #33: A brief history of Cumbria

July 17, 2020
…in which we challenge archaeologist Bruce Bennison to compress 7,000 years of Cumbrian history into 45 minutes. Setting out from the little-visited Neolithic gem of Mayburgh Henge, we discover why the joining of the Rivers Eamont and Lowther was so important on the historic ‘Western route’ up Britain. At the imposing sandstone facade of Brougham Castle we enter Roman times to consider the garrisons guarding the strategic river crossing. Finally, wandering via back lanes to Clifton Hall’s Pele Tower, we move on to the Border Raids and two pivotal events in the modern history of Britain: the birth of England and the last battle on English soil.
Countrystride #32: Lady Anne Clifford - First lady of Westmorland

Countrystride #32: Lady Anne Clifford - First lady of Westmorland

June 28, 2020
...in which we explore Lady Anne's Way, the long distance trail celebrating its 25th birthday this year, with its founder, Sheila Gordon. As we stride along the airy High Way – an ancient route linking Wensleydale and Mallerstang – Sheila recounts the remarkable tale of the indomitable first lady of Westmorland, Lady Anne Clifford, and her 38-year battle to recover her lands and castles – before encountering crumbling packhorse inns, dashing highwaymen and a church that time forgot, all in the melodic company of lapwing, curlew and oyster catchers.
 
Countrystride #31: Cumbrian folk music and the Back o’Skiddaw

Countrystride #31: Cumbrian folk music and the Back o’Skiddaw

May 29, 2020
…in which we celebrate the folk music tradition of Cumbria on a virtual wander around the Back o’Skiddaw with local musician and academic Dr Sue Allan. As we amble from Ireby to Caldbeck, over airy Aughtertree Fell and alongside the tumbling Howk, we discuss hunting songs, learn about notorious horseman (and drinker) John Peel, delve into the history of fairs, dances and merrymeets, and sample the dialect verse of Robert Anderson, the Bard of Cumberland.
 
  • The podcast features recordings of the 'Keswick Bonnie Lasses' from Striding Edge and 'My Love she’s but a Lassie’ from the Boat Band’s ‘Trip to the Lakes’ - more details below.

 

The Boat Band and Greg Stephens

Greg Stephens has been researching old Cumbrian tunes since the 60's. He plays with the Boat Band, who in 2001 recorded 'A Trip to the Lakes', an album of old tunes. They recorded it to celebrate the first Duddon Valley Folk Folk festival, held when the foot and mouth lockdown was eased at the end of that disastrous summer for the valley. The record was subsequently issued by Harbourtown Records in 2009 to enormous acclaim.  

The Boat Band has been playing since 1989, seventeen times at Glastonbury Festival, once at the St Kilda International Cajun Festival, and most points in between. Currently (May 2020) in lockdown like everyone else, but hoping to be playing again soon. In the Newfield Inn in the Duddon valley, or wherever.

contact: boatband@yahoo.co.uk

Countrystride #30: Buttermere - Tales from the secret valley

Countrystride #30: Buttermere - Tales from the secret valley

April 30, 2020
...in which we take a stroll down memory lane along that finest of lakes – Buttermere – journeying from the bluebells of Rannerdale to Gatesgarth, a farm with a remarkable history. As we wander, with Angus Winchester, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History, Lancaster University, who was bought up in Lorton Vale, we talk about fact and bloody fiction in 'the secret valley'; the tragic charms of Buttermere's famous Maid; the crucial role Gatesgarth played in establishing the Herdwick breed; and the unlikely reason behind the name Innominate Tarn.
 

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