Countrystride
Countrystride #54: Damsons of the Lyth Valley

Countrystride #54: Damsons of the Lyth Valley

May 7, 2021
…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…
Countrystride #53: The lost history of hill farming

Countrystride #53: The lost history of hill farming

April 26, 2021
...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.
Countrystride #52: Cumbria Way with Paddy Dillon

Countrystride #52: Cumbria Way with Paddy Dillon

April 5, 2021

 ...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.

Countrystride #51: Skiddaw House - Loneliest house in England

Countrystride #51: Skiddaw House - Loneliest house in England

March 19, 2021
...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.
Countrystride #50: The young people of Cumbria

Countrystride #50: The young people of Cumbria

March 6, 2021
...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.
Countrystride #49: Wainwright on Haystacks - An anniversary retrospective

Countrystride #49: Wainwright on Haystacks - An anniversary retrospective

February 19, 2021
...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?'
Countrystride #48: Hadrian’s Wall

Countrystride #48: Hadrian’s Wall

February 8, 2021

...in which we head to the Cumbrian borderlands with long-time Roman authority David Breeze for a virtual stroll along Hadrian's Wall. As we wander west from the village of Gilsland towards airy Craggle Hill, we deep-dive into Emperor Hadrian's era of pragmatic consolidation; we learn how his vision changed as the Wall's construction progressed; we ponder why threats from across the Solway never materialised; and we discover why the Wall was not the end of Empire – but merely the base of a vast infrastructure extending north.

  • David's latest book on Hadrian's Wall,Hadrian's Wall. A Study in Archaeological Exploration and Interpretation is available from Archaeopress at 20% discount: https://doi.org/10.32028/9781789691672 – Use voucher code HW20

Countrystride #47: Lakeland pilgrims

Countrystride #47: Lakeland pilgrims

January 22, 2021
...in which we embark on a virtual pilgrimage with John Fleetwood and Stephen Wright, the founders of two Cumbrian pilgrim trails. As we wander, from the great rock cathedrals of Scafell Crag and Napes Needle to the softly-spoken churches around the Northern Fells, we ask what it means to be a pilgrim; we unearth the history of Saint Kentigern – Cumbria's great saint; we consider why long distance walking generates such a deep bond with the landscape; and we ask what spiritual journeys have given to Stephen and John.
Countrystride #46: Cumbria in a campervan

Countrystride #46: Cumbria in a campervan

January 17, 2021
...in which we temporarily swap our walking boots for the passenger seat of an ancient Bongo campervan to take an A–Z trip around the Lake District with Carlisle-based author Richard Harris. As we roam the National Park in search of solitude and mini adventures, we discover a Martindale stained-glass window that holds clues to wartime tragedy; we learn how Nibthwaite – with its Arthur Ransome claim to fame – has rejected the tourist limelight; we discuss how, post-lockdown, camper vans became public enemy No.1; and we hear why Cleator Moor – one-time candidate for Lourdes of the north – is the friendliest place in the county.
Countrystride #45: Review of 2020

Countrystride #45: Review of 2020

December 28, 2020
...in which we are joined by Lakeland Walker editor John Manning for our annual delve into Countrystrides past, picking our best bits from 2020 as we chat about everything from herdwicks to heroines; from bonfires to booze, from rewilding to rediscovering the joys of local before making New Years resolutions with guests including Sue Allan, James Rebanks, Julia Aglionby, Bill Birkett, Steve Matthews, Bill Lloyd and Penny Bradshaw.
  • We would like to thanks Bill Lloyd not only for his banjo playout of the tune 'Through the Glen', but also for hosting us in his Wild Wood Studio.
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