Windermere hoteliers head to London for award ceremony

Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel has been shortlisted for another green accolade, the AA Eco Award of the Year.

Presented in recognition of a commitment to sustainability, the award winner will be announced at a celebration dinner in London later this month.

Hotels shortlisted have demonstrated that through good practice and policy they have made a positive contribution to reducing impact on the environment.

Cedar Manor and gardens

The Cedar Manor has always set out to prove that it is possible to combine luxury with sustainability, and was a recent winner of the Considerate Hotels national and international award for best practice.

Co-owner Jonathan Kaye, who is a trustee of Nurture Lakeland, said: “We’re proud of our green credentials. We focus not only on energy but on doing the right thing for the environment, educating ourselves, our staff and guests.

“The key is that we think ‘environment’ when we do anything in the building: when we instruct builders and interior designer to do anything we remind them we want to cover every angle, from insulation, to regulating water flow, to using recycled underlay, lead-free paints, LED lighting, thermostatic heating controls, sustainable wood and above all, trying to keep it British and local, manufactured in the North West.”

The hotel is involved with the CBEN scheme (Cumbria Business Environment Network) and holds the Green Tourism gold award , demonstrating it’s possible to operate in an environmentally-sound way without compromising guests’ experience. “We appreciate that visitors have very high expectations with regard to this, and in the heart of the national park we have a responsibility to maintain and improve the environment,” said Jonathan. “We are looking forward to the award ceremony.”



Dynamic young artist to launch Mountain Festival programme

A young artist offering a new perspective on the landscape will be the curtain-raiser for this year’s Kendal Mountain Festival.

The now traditional Festival preview event at the Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere will feature the work of Stefan Orlowski. After the private viewing on Wednesday November 15, the exhibition, Land Lives, will run until the end of the year.

stefan head and shoulders

The work on show will combine Stefan’s own interpretation of the Cumbrian interior landscape and coastline. There are landscapes, subjects taken from domestic life and reclaimed objects from outdoor explorations that recur in a diverse range of media including oils, watercolours and small egg tempera panels.

The Heaton Cooper exhibitions have become an established fixture of the Mountain Festival calendar, in recent years featuring the Fell and Rock climbing guides’ drawings of William Heaton Cooper, the mountain charcoal and chalk pictures by Tessa Lyons, and the apocalyptic photographs by climate change campaigner Ashley Cooper, Images from a Warming Planet.

The Studio in Grasmere was opened by William Heaton Cooper in 1938, although the business was founded on another site by his father, Alfred Heaton Cooper, in 1905. A prominent and significant feature of Cumbria’s cultural heritage, and the Lake District Centre for the Interpretation of Landscape, it includes work by the Heaton Cooper family and guest artists, with the Lakeland landscape at the heart of displays in the newly renovated archive gallery.

Julian Cooper, grandson of the founder, whose own retrospective exhibition Full Circle is currently showing at the Studio, will curate Stefan’s exhibition.

Stefan says that the exhibition will attempt to offer insight into a handful of recurring subjects and motifs: “There are landscapes and a number of other subjects from domestic life that recur in an act of obsession and constant re-examination.”

Cumbrian-born Stefan, who is based at Barrow’s Art Gene Studio, studied fine art at Aberystwyth University and the Wimbledon College of Art. He has exhibited locally and in London, including St Martin in the Fields, the King’s Place gallery and the Mall Galleries. He spent four months as Artist in Residence at Trelex in Switzerland.

Director of the Heaton Cooper Studio, Becky Heaton Cooper, said that the partnership with the Kendal Mountain Festival had become an important and exciting feature of their gallery exhibitions. “We are delighted on this occasion to offer an opportunity to such a talented and dynamic artist as Stefan.”

landscape - Copy

Papal blessing for climate change campaigner’s book

The Pope has given his seal of approval to a book which documents the devastating impact of climate change around the world.

Photographer and campaigner Ashley Cooper sent a copy of his book, Images from a Warming Planet, to Pope Francis knowing of his concern about environmental issues.

Replying from the Vatican on behalf of the Pope, Archbishop Paul Gallagher thanked Mr Cooper and said that “the Holy Father…received it with interest and expressed his gratitude for the gift.”

ash with the book

He added: “Despite recent setbacks, the Holy See will continue to promote the issues to which you are committed, and which now appear to have a popular momentum of their own.”

Mr Cooper spent 13 years travelling around the world to photograph the impact of climate change on every continent. The resulting book, published last year, is deceptively beautiful, with its glossy pages of stunning photography. But every picture tells a story of grievous damage “and more views of earthly destruction than I care to remember”.

There are photographs of displaced flood-hit children in refugee camps, dried up river beds, receding glaciers, and – one which has captured public acclaim – a polar bear which starved to death because there was no sea ice on which to hunt its prey. There is an entire chapter on the Canadian tar sands, “of all man’s effort to exploit fossil fuels, by far the most environmentally destructive”.

Mr Cooper lives in Ambleside in the Lake District, where he is a member of the local mountain rescue team. He recently won a Green Apple Environment Award in the international campaign to find the greenest companies, councils and communities, which will be presented at the Houses of Parliament later this year.

His book has been hailed as a critical call to action by leading environmentalists, including Jonathan Porritt, who wrote in a foreword: “Do not ‘flick through’ this extraordinary photographic record…Do not be tempted into any kind of passive voyeurism; do not allow the power of the images to come between you and the people whose changing lives they portray.”

It has since been commended by a number of high profile environmental activists including the actress Emma Thompson, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron, and TV presenter and wildlife expert Chris Packham.

Mr Cooper said: “I am delighted that Pope Francis, a world leader with such influence, is committed to promoting the issues around climate change.”

He added: “I have been attempting to attract the attention of President Donald Trump but without success so far.”

A journey by bike reveals the secrets of Middle England

A new book published this week traces a very different “tour of Britain” on a bike.

Andrew Bibby, writer and cyclist, spent eight days pedalling 430 miles through “middle England” from the Dorset coast to the south shore of the Humber. This was his route that follows the line of Jurassic oolite limestone from Burton Bradstock to the village of Winteringham.

Fascinated by the history and geology of the “Jurassic” area Bibby devised a line which, as far as he knows, has not been tackled as a challenge, on a bike. What he saw along the way, and what he learned about the landscape and the land and the people who’ve worked on it, is now published in a fascinating new book, Back Roads through Middle England.

He had no idea what to expect, but his observations and detailed research offer an extended exploration of the state of rural England today.

“Middle England, you may feel, is a place out of touch with the artistic, intellectual and social buzz of metropolitan life. It’s probably a place of sleepy conformity, almost certainly of unthinking nimbyism and quite possibly of political prejudice,” he says.

“The notion is that Middle England is locked in the past, at a time when the country needs to engage with the present. But my Middle England turns out to be an altogether more complicated, and more contested, terrain. Middle England is not a place of homogeneity, it is where people live and work and argue, a place where things change and don’t change, where some are inspired with a hope to make their lives and their communities different.”

Bibby says: “I found that a bicycle is an ideal mode of transport if you’re not in a hurry and can choose the quiet roads. I enjoyed the way that, day by day, my bike and I began to work together as a team. I saw whole areas of England that I’d never before visited. I saw the landscape change. I’d seen the houses and churches built of oolite limestone stay more or less the same.”

Back Roads Through Middle England is published by Gritstone, £13.95

andrew and the bike

About the author

Andrew Bibby is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in The Observer, The Independent, The Guardian and other national papers. He has written widely on the countryside and the outdoors, including the well-reviewed Backbone of England on northern landscapes. This book offers his insights into southern and mid-counties English landscapes.

Towns and areas covered in this book

Dorset Jurassic coast; Yeovil, Frome and east Somerset; Bath; Malmesbury, Cirencester, Stow and the Cotswolds; Blenheim Palace and north Oxfordshire; Brackley; Wellingborough, Corby and Oundle; Stamford, Sleaford, Lincoln, north Lincolnshire.


Curtain rises on theatrical dinners in Grasmere

Theatre goers in the Lake District visiting the world’s first pop-up-and-plug-in theatre will have a chance to dine at an exciting new venue in Grasmere.

Mathilde’s at the Heaton Cooper Studio launched this summer and is usually open just in the daytime.

Mathilde at Heaton Cooper studio

But for three nights when Roundabout Theatre sets up in the village next month, dinners will be served before the curtain goes up.

Roundabout will pitch a giant tent on the village green directly opposite Mathilde’s from Thursday September 14. The shows are curated by Paines Plough, the team regarded as the national theatre of new writing, producing work from UK’s best and brightest young writers and performers.

Director of the Heaton Cooper Studio, Becky Heaton Cooper said: “We were really excited to learn that this great theatre company is setting up in what’s almost our front garden.”

rob the chef

Chef Rob McGill

She added: “We opened Mathilde’s this summer and have a brilliant kitchen team led by head chef Rob McGill. We thought it would give theatre-goers a total experience on their visit to Grasmere.”

Tables must be booked in advance, and meals pre-ordered.  There will be two sittings each evening, at 5.30 and 7.30.

Black Mountain, a tense psychological thriller about betrayal and forgiveness by winner of the Harold Pinter Commission, Brad Birch, will launch the programme with a performance on the Thursday evening, as well as appearances on the Saturday and Sunday.

Also appearing on the opening night will be award-winning stand-up comedian Alun Cochrane, who is a regular on TV panel shows 8 Out of 10 Cats and Mock The Week, as well as at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Friday 15th sees the first performance of Sarah McDonald-Hughes’ family-friendly play, How to Be a Kid – which has four showings throughout the event – and Elinor Cook’s tale of friendship and rivalry, Out of Love, which appears twice more on the programme.

In the evening, Henry Normal – co-writer of The Royle Family and producer of Gavin and Stacey and Alan Partridge – will be reading from his new collection of poems, Travelling Second Class Through Hope.

The Saturday evening guest is the popular TV and radio host Stuart Maconie, presenting his latest book about The Jarrow Marchers, with each of the three plays returning on the Saturday and Sunday.


Stuart Maconie

For full details of the programme and theatre bookings see

To ask for a menu and book dinner at Mathilde’s call 015394 35280

Cumbria’s top artists gather for a weekend of workshops

Some of Cumbria’s leading artists will gather for a weekend of workshops designed to highlight the importance of the arts for a healthy lifestyle this autumn.

Leading tango teacher  Francesca Halfacree  will be joined by a host of talent at Scalesceugh Hall near Carlisle for a celebration titled The Art of Being.

There will also be classes in tai chi, yoga and other dance forms, along with creative classes from some of the county’s top visual artists.

They include Alex Jakob Whitworth who will run workshops on drawing, painting and textiles alongside cartoonist and life drawing teacher Gavin Pollock: Ceri Allan will offer her expertise in painting; Christine Hurford, is a ceramicist and installation artist; and glass artist and printmaker Janis Young joins the team.

Also on site will be Irene Sanderson, the Penrith-based painter, illustrator, printmaker and calligrapher; and poet and writer Nick Pemberton will be among many others running workshops for visitors to the Hall.

The Art of Being is organised by Dr Anita Herdeiro and her husband Bruno, experts in challenging traditional approaches to ageing.  “We will be showcasing arts and activities which can contribute to health and well-being,” said Dr Herdeiro. “We want to show doing things that are fun, and being mindful of whatever we interact with, contributes positively to our health in mind and body. There is research to support how art can contribute to our physical and mental well-being, which will be discussed at the event.

“Using the ‘arts’ in all forms – words, music, painting and movement – offers the opportunity to enhance and deepen the sense of well-being. These workshops are the beginning of an encouraging and respectful re-evaluation of ageing and the real needs of older people.”


Learn to tango: an opportunity for creativity and self-expression

Scalesceugh Hall is the centre of a revolutionary project which tackles traditional attitudes towards ageing, beginning with the building of several luxury retirement villas within its grounds. These new homes are being sold privately, with carers on site to ensure residents can live there for as long as possible, where the services will be provided as a non for profit enterprise. The Herdeiros hope that concepts used at the Hall will be a catalyst for change across the system .

“We need to tear up the rule book and start again, focusing on individuals not demographics,” said Dr Herdeiro. “If people feel happier and more fulfilled, and more motivated to stay well, it makes them less prone to ill health, and reduces the pressure on overstretched health and care services. Just because someone has retired, doesn’t mean they should give up on their aspirations, or lose their meaning and purpose.”

The Art of Being festival aims to show the way that the arts can help a healthier lifestyle. Dance, for example, can support people living with Parkinson’s disease to develop confidence and strength, says Dr Herdeiro. “It can provide opportunity for creativity and self-expression, while also temporarily relieving some participants of symptoms in everyday life.”

Dr Herdeiro, a GP and health-care expert, has spent many years working with older people and researching into the impact of keeping fit and healthy in later life, and her principles are based on philosophies now being adopted in Scandinavia and Australia.

Visitors to the Art of Being will also have a chance to see the new retirement homes, and the Hall itself, which will have rooms available for the use of buyers – including rooms for fitness classes. Light snacks and drinks will be available.

Further information about the event will be posted on the website:

The event is Saturday and Sunday October 7 and 8. Scalesceugh Hall is at Carleton on the A6 five miles south of Carlisle, near to junction 43 of the M6.





Food stalls available at Festival street market

A street market of food stalls will be a feature of the Festival of the Fells in Ambleside next month.

And the organisers have a few spaces left for local traders who want to join in the festivities.

The second Festival of the Fells will see a host of big names in the outdoor world gathering for talks, lectures, films and music, and a host of organised outdoor activities.

The Festival will be held over four days from September 21-24, and will include a series of film highlights from the Kendal Mountain Festival at Zeffirellis Cinema.

The food stalls will keep visitors fed for two of the four days, and traders who use or sell local produce are invited to apply for a space, for just £25 for the two days. Anyone interested should contact Wendy Rainer of the organisers Ambleside Together on 015394 32636.

Top holiday cottage company Heart of the Lakes has joined forces with Ambleside Together as headline sponsor for the event, and leading mountaineer Alan Hinkes is patron once again and will be delivering a keynote lecture.

Speakers include the internationally acclaimed photographer Ashley Cooper who will present an evening at the festival to talk about his ground-breaking book Images from a Warming Planet.

Also lined up is writer Mark Richards, well-known for his various walking guides, largely published by Cicerone. He now has a further new publisher based in Yorkshire with whom he is about to launch four Cumbrian walking guides. And fell-running legend Wendy Dodds will talk about her exploits during an evening at the Golden Rule.

In the water Ambleside is taking the plunge with a series of wild swimming adventures at the Festival. Open water specialists Swim the Lakes will take swimmers out in the lakes and rivers, including a night swim in Windermere which was featured on BBC television.

Sessions can be booked now on the Swim the Lakes website, and include wild swimming taster sessions, and a swim down the River Brathay described as “down the river without a paddle”.

Swim the Lakes director Pete Kelly said the moonlit swim, which was featured in Secret Britain on TV, when presenter Ellie Harrison swam in the dark, was likely to be the most popular.

Full details can be found at

The printed festival programme will be available at local shops at the end of this month.




New gallery slot for leading artist

By Ruth Egerton

One of Cumbria’s best loved and most quirky artists is opening a new gallery and studio in the heart of the Lake District at Windermere.

Thuline De Cock, known for her huge faces of Friesian cattle, Herdwick sheep and other animals, is retaining her original studio in Kendal alongside the new gallery on Main Road, not far from Windermere station.

Belgian-born Thuline, whose work is featured in many iconic Lakes venues including the Jumble Room in Grasmere, Sizergh Barn and the Sun Inn at Crook, has recently ventured into a new range of landscape art, featuring the hills and stone walls of her adopted home landscape.

thuline new shop

She was also one of the artists chosen to paint a fantasy sheep for the Go Herdwick charity project and her offering – Beatrix – spent a summer outside the Cedar Manor Hotel at Windemere before being sold for £5000 at a charity auction.

“I’m very excited about the new studio,” said Thuline, whose work is sold throughout the UK. “It will be on the tourist trail in one of the busiest towns in the Lakes.” Thuline exhibits in a number of galleries throughout the UK and Ireland, and she has work in private collections in Britain and overseas. She’s had solo exhibitions in the north, including Percyhouse at Cockermouth, Gallery15 in Penrith, Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake, the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, and Liverpool’s Blue Coat Chambers.

She’s also had her work on show at other exhibition venues including the NEC in Birmingham, the Untitled Artist Fair in Chelsea, Stockbridge Gallery in Hampshire, and art fairs in London, Edinburgh, Bristol and Antwerp. Thuline is regularly commissioned to create paintings by clients and visitors.

Thuline is married to another artist, D C Hill, whose work will also be on show in the new studio.

Said Thuline:  “The great thing about the new space, apart from the big walls, is that I will be able to run small workshops, with up to six people at a time, in the gallery’s second room.”

For more details and commissions see

thulines animal paintings

Westminster invitation as Ashley wins green award

The Lake District-based campaigning photographer Ashley Cooper has won a Green Apple Environment Award in the international campaign to find the greenest companies, councils and communities.

Ashley, who spent 13 years travelling the world to document the impact of climate change, competed against more than 500 other nominations in the Green Apple Awards for Environmental Best Practice. He will be presented with a trophy and certificate at a glittering presentation ceremony in the Houses of Parliament, London on November 6.

ash with the book

Ashley’s book, Images from a warming planet, containing more than 500 startling photographs of climate change devastation, was published last year and has been hailed as a critical call to action by leading environmentalists.

As a result of the Green Apple Award success, he has been invited to have a synopsis of his work published in The Green Book, the leading international work of reference on environmental best practice, so that others around the world can follow their example and learn from their achievement.

He could also progress to represent the UK in the Green World Awards 2018 and have 100 trees planted in his name as part of the United Nations Billion Trees initiative.

The Green Apple Awards began in 1994 and have become established as the country’s major recognition for environmental endeavour among companies, councils, communities and countries.

The awards are organised by The Green Organisation – an international, independent, non-political, non-profit environment group dedicated to recognising, rewarding and promoting environmental best practice around the world.

The Green Apple Awards are supported by the Environment Agency, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the Chartered Institution for Wastes Management and other independent bodies.

Ashley said: “I am very pleased that my work has been recognised, and that there will now be a further opportunity to highlight the impact that climate change is having in our country and in every country around the world. It is more important than ever that we take action to save our planet.”

Hostel date for Swallows and Amazons actress

The actress who starred in the children’s classic film Swallows and Amazons (1974) is to return to one of her favourite locations in the Lake District.

Sophie Neville, who played the imaginative Titty Walker, able-seaman of the Swallow, will stay at Elterwater Hostel as a guest of the staff. She’s returning to the Lakes to take part in a marathon day-long reading of the Arthur Ransome story on the shore of Coniston next month. When she mentioned on social media that Elterwater was the scene of her favourite day’s filming in the Lake District, the staff at the hostel sent her an invitation.

“Of all the days we spent filming Swallows and Amazons, the fishing scene, shot in a reedy bay on Elterwater, was the one I enjoyed the most,” Sophie recalls. The youngest character, Roger, caught a giant pike which he thought was a shark. A local fisherman had brought along a number of perch – and a pike – which the set crew had to keep safe until they were needed.

Fishing scene from the film studio canal

Fishing in Elterwater: a scene from the 1974 film  (thanks to StudioCanal Films)

Sophie, whose book The Making of Swallows and Amazons, has just been republished by The Lutterworth Press, will join a host of actors, writers and Ransome fans for the marathon reading session on Sunday September 3, before heading to Elterwater for the night.

“We’re delighted that Sophie is coming back to a location she loved so much,” said the hostel’s Charlie Spiller. “The small lake of Elterwater is only a short walk from our hostel but we had no idea it had been a film location, even though I’m a great fan of the story.”

hostel 3

Elterwater is a small independent hostel, formerly part of the YHA. Book here:

The marathon reading of Swallows and Amazons is being organised by the University of Liverpool in association with the Lake District National Park.