A Great Gift in the Lake District
2018 marked 100 years since the end of the First World War. In the early years following the war, three very special gifts were made to the National Trust to look after on behalf of the nation.
The first mountain to be gifted to us was Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain, by Lord Leconfield.Then Castle Crag was given as a memorial to 'the men of Borrowdale'.
Shortly afterwards, 12 Lake District summits were given to the Trust by the Fell and Rock Climbing Club in memory of the fallen. This included famous climbing crags and a large gift of land surrounding the iconic peak of Great Gable. It was described at the time as the "world’s greatest war memorial."
This means that England’s highest mountain, is in fact England’s highest war memorial.
We’ll set the scene.
A beacon was lit on Scafell Pike on Peace Day in 1919 to signal the end of the war. The landowner Lord Leconfield gifted the Pike soon after “in perpetual memory”, as he said, “of the men of the Lake District who fell for God and King, for freedom, peace and right in the Great War”.
The 12 summit gift from the Fell and Rock Climbing Club followed soon after. The final dedication ceremony was on the top of Great Gable. It was led by Geoffrey Winthrop Young, leading mountaineer of his generation. His tale of the difficult climb in bad weather on the day and being revived by “cups of genuinely hot coffee” is something we can really relate to today. His dedication speech still resonates.
" “Upon this mountain summit we are met today to dedicate this space of hills to freedom. Upon this rock are set the names of men – our brothers, and our comrades upon these cliffs – who held, with us, that there is no freedom of the soil where the spirit of man is in bondage, and who surrendered their part in the fellowship of hill and wind, and sunshine, that the freedom of this land, the freedom of our spirit, should endure.”"
In 1920, a group of friends gave Castle Crag to the National Trust, dedicating the war memorial to the memory of 2nd Leiutenant John Hamer and 'the men of Borrowdale'.
These mountains were given as memorials for everyone to enjoy, and we’re really proud to have cared for them ever since.
This year, with Geoffrey Winthrop Young’s words in mind, we want to re-dedicate the space of hills to freedom. Follow our story and see what we've got planned for 2018.