Reviving the “world’s greatest war memorial”

Archive photo of people gathered on Great Gable Summit in 1923
Published : 12 Jan 2018

When the Great War ended 100 years ago, Scafell Pike and 12 other Lakeland summits were given to the National Trust as a spectacular and unique memorial to those lost in World War One.

This “Great Gift” – Scafell Pike from Lord Leconfield and the 12 summits from the Fell and Rock Climbing Club – was one of the largest ever donations we have received and ensures that hundreds of thousands of visitors can freely walk the mountains each year.

Now, 100 years on, we are expressing gratitude with a series of commemorations – including rebuilding a summit cairn on Scafell Pike, England’s tallest mountain. Rangers will camp out on the peak to carry out this work, including resetting the memorial plaque within the walls of the cairn.

Throughout 2018 and beyond, the re-dedication of the mountains will include work to repair paths on Scafell Pike and Great Gable. A project supported by the Arts Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council will bring together musicians and choirs for a ‘song cycle’ across the 12 mountains of the Fell & Rock Climbing Club gift. At Wordsworth House in Cockermouth an exhibition called Where Poppies Blow, with award-winning author John Lewis-Stempel, will explore the role of nature in helping soldiers through the horrors of battle.

The commerations will conclude on Armistice Day, when we will light a beacon on top of Scafell Pike, just as Lord Leconfield did on Peace Day on 19 July, 1919.

British mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington, who spent several years in the Royal Tank Regiment, said, 'I can’t help but be inspired every time I return home to the Lakes, by its wildness and charm, and the challenges it presents. Beyond its staggering beauty, the Lake District has a rich cultural history and a web of fascinating stories.'

'It’s also very important that the millions of people who visit the area each year play their part, alongside conservationists like the National Trust, in looking after our fells for the future.'