The debate about the future of the Lakeland fell tops continues with an article in this week’s Westmorland Gazette. According to delegates at the meeting, without hill farmers the fell tops face a bleak future as a wilderness with ruined barns and collapsed walls and that this was vital to maintain the character of the Lake District.
Utter tosh. Even if the hill farms were abandoned overnight, which is not going to happen, the sheer numbers of people wandering the fells would ensure that paths remained open just by walking there. If woodland were to reclaim the fells it’s density will naturally lessen as the height increases and the fell tops are unlikely ever to be covered. As for buildings, well if they’ve got a use they’ll be kept in good repair, simple as that.
But just suppose for a moment that the sheep were removed and the fells were left to their own devices. Reforestation would be a gradual process. Only the youngest amongst us would live to see the hillsides carpeted with forests. But this is only an extension of what is already there and what was once the way the fells looked anyway. Many parts of South Lakeland are already heavily forested. Walk anywhere around Windermere and a good part of your walk will be amongst trees. More trees are being planted all the time. In the last ten years, several thousand have been planted on the slopes of School Knott. Further south, the Rosthwaite estate has also seen large scale reforestation.
I was in Ennerdale recently, a valley I have shunned for most of my adult life, assuming it to be a blanket Sitka forest. It’s not. It’s a wonderfully diverse, but also essentially wild and beautiful place.
And there are further benefits. Managed woodland is a sustainable resource and an eco fuel source. And, it could be argued, using the fells to grow a sustainable forest would be a far lesser evil than allowing them to be covered with wind farms.
The fell tops are and always have been an industrial landscape, going right back to the romans and even to the stone age. In that timescale sheep farming which is responsible for the way the fells look at present is a very recent, man made alteration. We should not be afraid of change, we should embrace it.
If you find the traffic in the Lakes a problem you might be interested in getting involved in a little traffic survey. Click here for details.
It only takes a few minutes and who knows, it might turn up some interesting results.
The weather has been a little more mixed this week in the Lakes. This morning we woke to a fine drizzle and the leaves on the Oak tree across the road which have been steadily turning yellow and brown are now starting to slowly fall.
Many other trees are just beginning to turn but the autumn winds have not yet arrived to strip them of their foliage.
The forestry commission has a useful website that monitors the changing colours nationwide. The link for Grizedale Forest is at www.forestry.gov.uk
We British have an obsessive pre-occupation with the weather. We're always complaining about it in one way or another. But here in Windermere we really can't complain. True we shared with most of the country a surfeit of wet weather during what we nominally call summer but fortunately were spared the flooding that hit other parts of the country. I suppose this is something to do with the hills and the lakes and the fact that this place usually gets plenty of rain anyway, so the drainage system and rivers are designed to cope.
But it's the first week in October, the sun is shining and it's very warm. I've just returned from a jog along the Windermere Way, from Troutbeck to the summit of Wansfell. It was glorious and there were plenty of people, out and about enjoying the weather.Clear autumn skies from Wansfell
Getting to the point of this ramble. With the superb spring and autumn that we have had, combined with a few good days during the summer, I think it's been a really good year. A summer that starts in April and goes through to October is OK in my book even if there were a few wet days in between. It's certainly been a better summer than many I can remember and makes the winter seem that much shorter.
The waste management situation in Cumbria is a complete shambles. Arguably the Lake District and therefore Cumbria is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK. There are a high proportion of people living in and around the lakes that have a very positive attitude to recycling and would want to keep it that way.
No so our elected representatives it would seem. Read More...
When I originally wrote the Windermere Way I remember descending Wansfell and commenting "This path has also been paved for most of it’s length. Care is needed as some parts have been left rather poorly finished although on the whole it is quite good."
Not so now. Read More...