Countrystride
Countrystride #63: Danny Teasdale - Ullswater after the storm

Countrystride #63: Danny Teasdale - Ullswater after the storm

September 3, 2021
...in which we explore the wildlife-rich meadows of Matterdale in the company of local lad Danny Teasdale, founder of the Ullswater Catchment Management company interest company (CIC). Moved to action by the devastation wrought to Glenridding by 2015's Storm Desmond, Danny set up the CIC to improve flood resilience in the valley and prove it is possible to restore nature in a way that complements sustainable farming. As we wander – passing re-wiggled becks, newly planted woodlands, bunged feeder streams and insect-heaven ponds – we hear about Danny's childhood passion for damning becks; we learn how word-of-mouth recommendation has energised more than 70% of Ullswater landowners; we consider why rural funding must be decentralised; and we relish the joys of unearthing salmon redds.
Countrystride #62: GRANGE-OVER-SANDS & Hampsfell

Countrystride #62: GRANGE-OVER-SANDS & Hampsfell

August 20, 2021
...in which we take in the salt air at the Victorian seaside resort of Grange-over-Sands with local historian and National Park Rights of Way Officer Nick Thorne. In a wide-ranging conversation covering history, ecology, tourism... and lots of old postcards, we walk the town's mile-long promenade and imagine the refined resort in its heyday; we visit the town's salt-water lido, in which generations of children shivered as they learnt to swim; we consider the history of paths in coppiced Eggerslack Wood, with its water ways and sunken lanes; and we discuss the practicalities and perils of crossing the ever-shifting Sands of Morecambe Bay, before alighting on Hampsfell's summit Hospice, with its breathtaking panorama.
Countrystride #61: Norman Nicholson - Son of Millom

Countrystride #61: Norman Nicholson - Son of Millom

August 6, 2021
...in which we journey to Millom to discuss the life and writings of Norman Nicholson, one of Cumbria's foremost – and most neglected – wordsmiths. On a coastal walk with Nicholson fan and academic Dr David Cooper, we visit 14 St. Georges Terrace – the home in which the son of Millom spent all but 20 months of his life – before exploring the site of the town's former iron works – ghost of an industry woven into the DNA of both town and man. As we wander, under brooding Black Combe, we learn about the poet's early-life traumas, we discuss the sanitarium convalescence that was to inform his painterly vision; we wrestle with concepts of place, home and provincialism; and – gazing west from Nicholson's grave – we let our eyes at last be blinded by dazzle.
Countrystride #60: Wad - The wealth of Borrowdale

Countrystride #60: Wad - The wealth of Borrowdale

July 23, 2021
…in which we stride out from Seathwaite with mining authority Mark Hatton to unearth the turbulent history of Borrowdale graphite. As we battle bracken on the fellside of Low Bank, we seek out the nature-reclaimed remains of a mining industry that played a key role in the emergence of industrial Britain. In a story that starts with a lone farmer discovering a means to mark his sheep and ends in financial collapse on a huge scale, we learn how critical Borrowdale and Keswick were in the development of early capitalism; we debunk the myth that Derwent Isle was used to safeguard German immmigrants; we meet counterfeiters and bandits; we wonder whether ‘breathing’ mines might explain legends of dragons; we consider how lawless this wild-west hamlet once was… and, last but not least, we talk pencils…
Countrystride #59: Rural visionary - John Dunning in the Westmorland Dales

Countrystride #59: Rural visionary - John Dunning in the Westmorland Dales

July 9, 2021
...in which we swap walking boots for the wheel as we journey down the M6 to meet John Dunning, founder of the nationally-acclaimed Tebay Services, sited above his beloved Westmorland Dales. Taking the long view of a man wed to land and community, we discuss farming roots; we hear about spiritual moments on the fells; we plot the insights and drive that turned an unremarkable stretch of motorway into a family-owned Cumbrian institution; we ponder the age-old history of travel through the Lune Gorge; and we consider the steps needed to build a resilient upland economy.
Countrystride #58: Swaledale - Meadows & mines

Countrystride #58: Swaledale - Meadows & mines

June 25, 2021
…in which we cross county lines to visit the internationally-important hay meadows of Swaledale. As we amble out from the Dales village of Muker with local lass and Keld Resource Centre manager Helen Guy, we discuss the traditional farming methods that support a wealth of wild flowers; we delve into the arduous, short lives of Swinner Gill lead miners; we discover David Attenborough's unlikely link with this isolated dalehead; we consider why sometimes you need to leave home to fall in love with it; and we revel in the dialect meanings behind Hartlakes, Crackpot, Buttertubs and 'tow'd man'.
Countrystride #57: Helvellyn

Countrystride #57: Helvellyn

June 18, 2021
...in which we tackle one of Lakeland's most iconic fells via the rocky arête of Swirral Edge. In the company of Tom Hayek from the John Muir Trust – the charity which manages Glenridding Common – we discuss people pressure in a post-lockdown world; we discover how locals are nursing sub-alpine plants for the high fells; we hear about Tom's journey bagging the Nuttalls; we take in Mark's panorama from this finest of felltops; and we consider why, when undertaking landscape-scale work, we must be prepared to make change we’ll not live to see.
Countrystride #56: Life in the woods - Working the Rusland rainforests

Countrystride #56: Life in the woods - Working the Rusland rainforests

May 28, 2021
…in which we explore a rainy Rusland valley – the wooded lowlands between Windermere and Coniston. As we wander, with Rusland Horizons’ Marion Brown, we learn about the industrial heritage of bobbin mills, charcoal pits and tanneries, and the extraordinary rarity of Cumbria’s Atlantic woodlands - Britain’s temperature rainforests - before being joined by Jo Clayton and Darryl Kelbrick, who abandoned the nine-to-five to buy, live in and work their own 33-acre wood. In the sheltered porch of their off-grid home on the hill, we talk about the highs and lows of a simpler way of life; we hear why trees don’t just need planting - they need long-term care; we discuss the couples’ sustainable lifestyle making charcoal products and traditional woodland crafts; we witness the devestation inflicted by out-of-kilter deer populations; and we abandon decimalisation in favour of the Cumbrian pimp.
Countrystride 55: Threlkeld - A story of stone & steam

Countrystride 55: Threlkeld - A story of stone & steam

May 21, 2021
...in which we stride out from the gateway village of Threlkeld, once a thriving industrial hub, with local lad, ex-forester and third ever Lake Distirct National Park warden, Donald Angus. As we walk - up the bluebell-flushed outgang of Blease Gill then down to picture-perfect Derwent Folds - we learn about the mining heritage of Threlkeld and the history of its quarry, whose stone flags and setts pave many northern towns; we talk about trainspotting on the old Penrith – Workington mineral line; we consider Tewet Tarn’s unlikely contribution to Cumberland brewing; we share recollections about the one-time TB 'sani' on the hill; and – most importantly of all – we ask exactly who was Fisher’s Wife?
  • This walk is one of 18 in our debut walking guide, The Threlkeld Walking Companion. Packed with heritage insights and fabulous walks from Mark, 50p from each copy sold is gifted to the community-owned Threlkeld Village Hall. You can find out more details about it here.
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…
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