To celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, local residents and businesses and visitors to Keswick were invited to submit photographs to contribute to creating a unique community photo-mosaic portrait of the Queen.
There was a huge response as photos flooded in. Of course, we sent in a photo of Derwentwater Youth Hostel with its beautiful views, stunning location and place in local history, and waited with baited breath to see if it was featured. The portrait was finally unveiled by the lake shore in Keswick on 1 June and to our delight, our photo is there, right on the bottom row, left of centre – the pictures are tiny so you have to squint a bit, but it is most definitely there!
The portrait contains a staggering 2,450 photos of Keswick and is intended to be a unique snapshot of Keswick in 2012 - a time capsule for The Jubilee. The portrait contains wonderful photos which show off the stunning area in and around Keswick. The idea is that new visitors will be encouraged to see Keswick for themselves after having seen the scenery captured in the pictures. Local Keswick designers, Slug and Ball Design Studio, did the remarkable job of piecing the photographs together and designing the website. The portrait has a beautiful and natural frame of local elm wood, which was crafted by joiners in nearby Bothel. Chairman of Keswick Tourist Association, Dave Jackson, mounted the portrait and assembled it into the frame.
The portrait is featured on a special website, which went live on 1 June. This website will remain live for a period of 12 months, during which time visitors will be able to zoom into the portrait to look at all the photographs in more detail and even find their own submissions (it’ll save squinting!). The physical portrait was on show in Keswick Moot Hall over the Jubilee weekend for visitors to view and will be on display in chosen venues in the area in the coming months before being presented to Buckingham Palace in November. Excitingly for us, one of those venues is Derwentwater Youth Hostel and it will be here from 30 July until 9 August. Best book your stay now to view it and avoid disappointment!
In January the hostel was in the eye of a small tornado which wreaked havoc and devastation in the grounds by the waterfall. A large tree came down and smashed the path below, blocking access to and from the waterfall.
But last month, some knights in shining armour appeared in the shape of 12 students from Wakefield College, all doing their BTEC Level 2 Uniform Public Service course. For one of their projects they all have to do voluntary work. Shakil Ashraf, their College tutor said the idea of volunteering was for them 'to have fun and learn valuable life skills. Not only is it highly beneficial to the students but it will also enhance their CVs'. The students had the choice of voluntary projects in London, in Morocco, or here at the hostel - luckily for us, these 17 year old students chose us!
Under the guidance and expertise of tutors from British Trust of Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) they worked phenomenally hard, clearing the fallen tree and chopping and sawing up the wood. They then set to rebuild the path, learning new skills and craftsmanship along the way. 'We had to use a two-handled saw. It hurts your arms and is really tiring, but it’s a proper laugh' said 17 year old Macaulay Lyons. In addition, they tackled some drystone walling - a task that seems to be as much about tenacity and patience as skill. 'It’s really hard - you have to get everything perfect. It’s quite stressful when you don’t get the right stones to fit. But you feel so good about yourself when you pick up a random rock and it fits perfectly' said student Ryan Harrison. As a reward for all their hard work the students had an afternoon off to go Gyhll Scrambling. Natasha Beckett, the lone girl in the group, showed the boys how it was done by jumping right in, despite her trepidations beforehand. Thanks to all the students’ great efforts, the path is now transformed and access to the waterfall is possible once more. Shakil was very pleased with the group: 'They’ve just got on with it, no moaning and groaning. They all tried hard and have done very well. And they’d do it again because they really enjoyed it'. He also praised the hostel, 'Everybody here is really lovely, and the hostel is amongst the most beautiful scenery'. And we have only praise for the industrious students and can’t thank them and BTCV enough for all their hard graft and cheerfulness, and for achieving so much during their stay.
The month of January is named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings. He had two faces, one looking backward at the old year, and another looking forward at the new year. In the spirit of Janus we are taking a look at what's coming up in 2014:
Keswick is a town of festivals, and here are just a few of those taking place next year:
Keswick Film Festival - The friendly film festival. Thursday 27th February to Sunday 2nd March. http://www.
Words by the Water - Literature festival with many famous names including Jeremy Paxman, Germaine Greer and Anne Widdecombe amongst many others. Friday 7th to Sunday 16th March. http://www.wayswithwords.co.
Keswick Jazz Festival - A celebration of traditional and mainstream jazz music in various venues across the town. Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th May. http://www.
Keswick Mountain Festival - All sorts of outdoor-themed events in and around the town. Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th May. http://www.
Keswick Beer Festival - A very successful fundraising event for the local rugby club and Lions Club. Live music and the greatest selection of local beers available. Friday 6th and Saturday 7th June. http://www.
Keswick Midsummer Festival - A week long programme of events centred on Market Square with live music, strolling performers and food stalls. Sunday 22nd to Sunday 29th June. http://www.keswick.org
Derwentwater Regatta - The second year for this celebration of King Pocky's 18th century festival organised by the National Trust. Family friendly events in Crow Park and on the lake. Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th August. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
There are lots of things happening at The Theatre by the Lake in Keswick this coming year, with a whole summer season of plays to discover, and one off events including comedians, bands, musicians, opera, and family friendly plays. Take a look at their programme on http://www.
There are many sporting events taking place in and around the area. Some are meant to be quite leisurely and fun and aimed at all levels, and others are for the serious athletes only!
Keswick Half Marathon - Described as the most scenic half marathon in the country. Sunday 4th May. http://www.
Jennings River Ride - Sections of the various cycle routes on this event follow river courses and cross over bridges affected by the devastating floods of 2009. Includes Family Fun Day in Fitz Park. Sunday 25th May. http://www.cumbriafoundation.
Keswick Triathlon - Open water swimming, cycling and running in a stunning landscape.Sunday 15th June. http://www.trihard.co.
Derwent Epic Swim - Three swims in the lake: 500m, 1600m and 3.8km aimed at everyone from beginners up to elite swimmers. Sunday 22nd June http://www.epicevents.co.uk/
Derwentwater Trail - a 10km and two 15km routes on the trails along the foothills of Skiddaw. Saturday 6th September. http://www.
We couldn’t let an opportunity go without showing off this photo of Mark Cavendish on the Tour of Britain. Dave somehow managed to capture the riders perfectly as they hurtled past our drive at incredible speed. Kathy and I had seen them puff their way up Honister Pass in somewhat challenging conditions. There was driving rain and a very cold wind - fortunately at the backs of the riders at that point, but right in the faces of the colourful waterproof-clad spectators. It was amazing to be part of such an international sporting event with the best in the world competing together – the atmosphere, even in the foul weather, was electric. There are rumours that the stage through the Lakes will repeated because the levels of support were unprecedented. We all really hope so, and will keep you posted so you can book your bed – we have a prime position on the route with the riders literally coming past our front gate!
Keswick Museum and Art Gallery (KMAG) is open again after a major Heritage Lottery Fund renovation project, and we are part of their opening exhibition!
We were invited to choose an art work from the museum’s collection, and Katy went along on our behalf. She chose an engraving called A view of Derwentwater from Vicars Island towards Skiddaw, and here is the explanation for her choice:
‘Vicars Island (now known as Derwent Island), the viewpoint from which this engraving is made, has lots of connections to Barrow House. Barrow House was built in 1787 for the wealthy gentleman Joseph Pocklington, who at that time also owned Vicars Island (although he called it Pocklington’s Island).
Joseph Pocklington felled most of the trees on the island and quickly adorned it with a mansion (still there today) and several eccentric follies. The follies included a boathouse in the style of a non-conformist chapel, Fort Joseph, a mock church with painted doors and windows, a Druid Temple based on the nearby Castlerigg Stone Circle, and a battery from which Pocklington fired cannon to create echoes around the valley and demonstrate the grandeur of the mountains. The island was also the centre piece of the annual regattas which Pocklington and his friend Peter Crosthwaite organised between 1781 and 1790. They staged mock invasions of the island, held a fair on Crow Park, and organised a multitude of madcap races.
I like the idea of Derwent Island as a playground or a stage. The figures in the engraving are revelling in the timeless sense of adventure that you get from exploring an island and they remind me of the first time that I kayaked to Rampsholme (one of the other Derwent Water islands): I was so excited!
Derwent Island is now owned by the National Trust and you can visit the island on designated open days: this is your opportunity to put yourself in the frame of the picture and look at the view for real! Pocklington was able to purchase the island that he admired, but I am happy to settle for an engraving and the occasional open day! Thank you to Keswick Museum and Art Gallery and the National Trust for making the views from Derwent Island accessible for all.’
We hope you will be able to visit KMAG in person, but in the meantime you can enjoy this picture of our chosen art work.
C-Art is an annual Cumbria-wide visual arts project, with open studios, gallery events and, new for this year, C-Art in Extraordinary Places. The extraordinary places included Ashness Bridge and Bark Barn, just above our grounds, and so we were in the perfect position to get involved.
Up at Ashness Bridge, artist Annabel Lewis covered Bark Barn with sheep’s wool, as well as placing large wire-bound balls of wool along the Falcon Crag footpaths. Inside the barn, Annabel and fellow Cumbrian artist Natalie Williamson displayed skulls and skeletons, some highly decorated, and some in their natural state: Natalie cleans and dries them very carefully though!
I enjoyed looking at the soft additions to the landscape, with the intrigue of unlabelled skulls inside the barn, but we got the most out of C-Art when Oughterside School came to visit. We had a fantastic morning at Bark Barn, talking to the artists, playing with the wool balls, investigating the skeletons, making our own environmental art, and walking along the wool ball-strewn paths to Falcon Crag.
We learnt a lot from the artists: Natalie Williamson collects skulls and skeletons from all round Cumbria, keeping a good look out on her walks and travels. She generally finds them near stone walls, where animals curl up to die, but her collection also includes some Minke whale bones, found on the West Cumbrian coast. Her fellow artist Annabel Lewis also knows the ins and outs of the local fauna! Annabel grew up on a West Cumbrian farm and her C-Art installation was made from 300 sheep fleeces of 3 different breeds. There is another side (or a few decorative trimmings) to Annabel though: in 1990 she established a ribbon and trimmings emporium in London called VV Rouleaux, and she now combines high-end fashion with fell-side fun!
On the last day of C-Art I had really good fun, helping Annabel to take down all the wool balls. There was some tricky fern-wading to do, but I paused a lot to look at the view, and it must have been a lot easier than the putting the balls up in the first place! The balls had gathered bits and bobs of fell-side flora, and patches of the wool were tinged brown and orange with rust from the wire binding: they looked like they had undergone the same autumnal transformation as the rest of the landscape.
I was really happy to be allowed to take two wool balls home as souvenirs: can you find them in our grounds when you visit the hostel?! There is also an opportunity to see the wool balls again at the Winter Droving Fair on 15th November in Penrith.
Many of you will be familiar with Ashness Bridge, just above the top of our grounds. The bridge spans the beck which flows down past the hostel, and it is one of the most popular spots in the Lake District, particularly for photographers.
The National Trust is keen to establish the chronology of change in both the physical setting and the cultural context of this famous landmark in Borrowdale. Work will involve research in a range of primary and secondary source material, utilising 18th and 19th century topographical art, historic photography and mapping, as well as field work, establishing baseline photography and using GIS mapping. The outcomes of this research, aided by Lancaster University History MA students, will help inform the long-term management of planting and views from the Ashness Bridge area, contributing to the National Trust Sustainable Landscape Plan.
The view includes the trees in our grounds, which have grown considerably over the past 200 years, and so we are involved in the project, with Tim recently meeting National Trust Lake District Curator Harvey Wilkinson, walking up through our grounds to the bridge. We are also interested in your views about iconic landmarks and viewpoints: should particular views be preserved/restored, and if so to which period in time? Have you made paintings or photographs of the view from Ashness Bridge that you would like to share with us?
Email us at email@example.com if you would like to share any comments or images relating to Ashness Bridge, and we will keep you updated about the project.
The new exhibition at Keswick Museum presents a really interesting combination of historical and present-day climbing photography, focusing on the Keswick-based brothers George and Ashley Abraham, and contemporary photographer Henry Iddon.
The Abraham brothers began climbing in Keswick in the 1890s using their mother’s washing line! Having met Owen Glynne Jones and other celebrated climbers in the Lakes at that time, they went on to become respected climbers themselves, discovering many new routes here and in Scotland and Europe. They were also unique in capturing those early exploits using massive glass plate cameras which they hauled on to the fells and operated in difficult conditions.
This exhibition celebrates their work with a range of their iconic climbing photographs and some of the well loved views they popularised and which are still admired today. It accompanies Henry Iddon’s exhibition of photographs taken in 2016 with the same Instanto camera, and featuring contemporary celebrated climbers.
The exhibition runs until 12th May 2017 and there are special activities for families in school holidays. http://
At the end of July we hosted the monthly Borrowdale Parish Coffee Morning and it was lovely to see everyone sitting outside and enjoying the view. The Borrowdale community is stretched out along the valley, so it is good to occasionally gather in one place, particularly when cake is involved. We look forward to hosting another coffee morning in the future.
The wonderful conservation charity, Plantlife, are running a photography competition called LOST (Looking Out for the Small Things): Beatrix Potter's Vision: A Celebration of the Lake District, which closes on 23rd April. They are keen to get more entries, particularly in the People in Woods category and in the Under 18 age groups. The details are attached here. Perhaps you could enter a photo from your stay in Borrowdale - we look forward to hearing how you get on.
Plantlife is a British conservation charity working nationally and internationally to save threatened wild flowers, plants and fungi, and they have been running courses and events in Cumbria to help people learn about different habitats and their flora. Aukje recently attended a course about woodland management, with a focus on protecting lichens, bryophytes and rare species, and she received lots of helpful information about the Borrowdale Atlantic woodland in which the hostel is situated. The Plantlife events are free and several are held in Borrowdale: the next one is at the Bowder Stone on 29th May. The website also has many free resources, for identifying wild plants and much more: Discover Wild Plants.