Please help the Friends of Blencathra

A view of Blencathra from Catbells © 165845

A view of Blencathra from Catbells

Latest update 02.06.2014 11:30

Blencathra, an iconic mountain in the northern Lake District, is up for sale. It’s a very special place: an inspiration for poets and authors, such as Wordsworth and Coleridge and a Lakeland favourite for many walkers, including Alfred Wainwright.

The owner, Lord Lonsdale, has put it on the market with a guide price of £1.75m to settle tax duties. The Trust has decided not to bid for it at this time because it already has the very highest levels of protection against damage to its special qualities or from inappropriate development. It’s in the Lake District National Park, is internationally designated (as SSSI and SAC) and covered by Right to Roam legislation. Grazing rights protect those with sheep on the fell. In effect, Herdwicks will continue to graze the mountain and walkers will continue to explore its folds and slopes.

Though we are not currently bidding for the mountain, we’d like to help and support the recently formed Friends of Blencathra, who wish to raise funds to purchase it for the community and the public. Please visit the Friends of Blencathra website and find out how you too can help.

A literary favourite

Blencathra features consistently in literature: from Wordsworth (‘there at Blencathra’s rugged feet, Sir Lancelot gave a safe retreat..’) and Coleridge (Of Saddleback in Cumberland, from The Complete Poems) to Dickens and Wilkie Collins. Wainwright names it in his top six selection, and mountaineers such as Doug Scott list it as their favourite. It lies in the shadow of Crosthwaite, Canon Hardwick Rawnsley’s – a founder of the National Trust - parish and home. It also features in Simon Jenkins’ England’s 100 Best Views, as the dramatic backdrop for the Neolithic stone circle at Castlerigg (‘closest to the Gods’). It’s not just another mountain…

It sits alongside Skiddaw and together their distinctive profile is the brooding bookend that marks the northerly conclusion of the Lakeland massif. It is a top five mountain, ranking alongside Scafell Pike, Great Gable, Helvellyn and Skiddaw in popularity, with an eastern approach that comprises Sharp Edge, one of Lakeland’s two classic knife-edge arêtes (the other being Striding Edge on Helvellyn).

The Skiddaw Group SSI is home to the Lakes’ largest areas of heather moorland and blanket bog, other habitats include two high-level tarns, montane moss heath and juniper scrub, all of which support outstanding places for breeding birds and invertebrates.

We’ll leave the final word to Coleridge, who said:

A Thought Suggested By A View

On stern Blencartha's perilous height
The winds are tyrannous and strong;
And flashing forth unsteady light
From stern Blencartha's skiey height,
As loud the torrents throng!
Beneath the moon, in gentle weather,
They bind the earth and sky together.
But oh! the sky and all its forms, how quiet!
The things that seek the earth, how full of noise and riot!