TV series takes the train to Wordsworth country

Rydal Mount near Ambleside, the home of William Wordsworth, will be seen in a new series on BBC Four to be broadcast on October 13.

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Railways: The Making of a Nation is a new weekly six-part documentary series exploring Britain’s rail network and The Age of Leisure episode will examine the poet’s campaign to halt the development of the branch line to Windermere.

His great great great great grandson Christopher Wordsworth will be seen at the house, still owned by the Wordsworth family, discussing the poet’s objections.

William Wordsworth believed that bringing in “uncultured travellers” would destroy the beauty they had come to enjoy. Wordsworth’s campaign failed, and the line opened in 1847, but one of the great ironies surrounding the great poet was that whilst he was against tourism, he himself would become one of the Lake’s greatest tourist attractions.

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Christopher Wordsworth at Rydal Mount

The programme looks at the idea of excursions to distant places which became popular from the 1840s onwards. The ultimate experience was often to head to the hills and sample clean air, far away from the industrial grime and pollution, and working class northerners now had access to the beautiful Lake District.

Historian Liz McIvor explores how Britain’s expanding rail network was the spark to a social revolution, starting in the 1800s and through to modern times.

Liz says: “A fast system of transportation shaped many areas of our industrial nation – from what we eat to where we live, work and play. The railways generated economic activity but they also changed the nature of business itself. They even changed attitudes to time and how we set our clocks. Our railways reflected deep class divisions, but they also brought people together and helped forge a new sense of national identity.

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“Before the railways most people lived local lives and had little, if any, interaction with people from other regions with different accents and cultures. With an expanding network people became to mix and learned to co-exist with their fellow countrymen and women.

“This series tells the story of how the railways changed the way we live – giving us a modern, industrial, suburban, consumer nation. This is a social, cultural and economic history of the railways.”

Peter Elkington, the curator at Rydal Mount, said that Wordsworth was, in reality, very welcoming to tourists. “He might have objected to the railway, but he really enjoyed chatting to people who walked by the house, and often showed them round the gardens.”

Wordsworth lived at Rydal Mount, now one of the most famous literary homes in Britain, for most of his life after moving from Grasmere. He wrote and revised much of his poetry there, and the Prelude was published from there, along with the definitive version of the world’s most famous poem, Daffodils. The house and gardens are open to the public daily.

You can watch the full programme on Thursday 13th October on BBC Four at 8pm and later on BBC iPlayer.

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Climate change images will feature at top Lakes exhibition

An exhibition highlighting the impact of climate change across the globe will open in the Lake District this autumn.

Images from a Warming Planet is a collection of photographs by Ashley Cooper whose book of the same name will be published simultaneously.

The opening of the exhibition, at the Archive Gallery at the Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere, will mark the start of the Kendal Mountain Festival which brings together lovers of the outdoors from across Britain and beyond. The Gallery has featured a series of exhibitions annually to launch the festival, including work by photographer Henry Iddon, and William Heaton Cooper’s drawings of Lakeland crags used in the definitive Fell and Rock Climbing Club climbing guides to the area, and functions as a centre of interpretation of landscape, as well as a showcase for the Heaton Cooper archive.

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Ambleside-based Cooper, 54, has amassed world’s largest collection of pictures documenting climate change on every continent, from the Inuit communities of the Arctic to the coral atoll islands of the Pacific Ocean.

His book includes more than 500 dramatic images which, he says, are truly shocking: “I passionately believe that climate change is the biggest threat that humanity has ever faced.”  A selection of the photos will be on display at the studio, and the book – with a foreword by leading environmentalist Jonathon Porritt  – will be on sale.

Said Cooper: “I have spent the last 13 years travelling to every continent on the planet to document the impacts of climate change and in that time have probably witnessed more of its impacts than anyone else. The book and this exhibition come from the heart. My images are a wakeup call to show how climate change is already impacting all around the world.”

His work illustrates the causes of climate change and how these changes are impacting people, landscapes and biodiversity around the planet. Among the most striking images is that of a dead polar bear which, a tracking device proved, had walked some 500 miles in search of food when there was no sea ice on the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago; polar bears can only hunt seals for food on sea ice.

Another, illustrating the way forward, shows the founder of an ashram in India, a big and modern community whose entire site is powered by 100% renewable energy.

“I have tried to look at what we can do to mitigate the worst excesses of climate change and prevent it from happening. I truly believe that this exhibition and book will play a real and significant role in alerting people to the dangers posed and motivate action. Some of the images are shocking, but I have always strived to create original, dramatic and stunning images.”

He added: “You have to remain optimistic otherwise there’s no point continuing. This is an issue about which every one of us can do something to make a difference. We all have a carbon footprint; we are all responsible.”

Director of the studio, Becky Heaton-Cooper, said: “We are very proud to be hosting this crucial exhibition in association with the Kendal Mountain Festival. We have long been admirers of Ashley’s work as a photographer, but we are also clearly supporters of his message. Looking at his photos is a roller-coaster experience, and we hope that this can indeed by a life-changing show.”

Images from a Warming Planet will run from Thursday November 17 until the end of the year. Free admission. Open daily, 9-5.30. 015394 35280

 

Kendal web experts are wheeling ahead

A Kendal e-commerce firm is joining the passion for cycling inspired by the Olympics and the Tour of Britain.

SYPO – Sell  Your Products Online – has developed a website for Carbon-Pro cycle care products, which are distributed by another South Lakes firm, Singletrack.

SYPO have also styled an ebay shop for Lakes Cycles, a new company which will open an outlet in Kendal this autumn.

CarbonPro Sports products contains active ingredients which protect against UVA and UVB rays, salt, sweat and water corrosion, and will make the bicycle last longer, and run more smoothly. The product range is 100% biodegradable and recyclable, and non-toxic.

SYPO have also developed the websites for two other Singletrack brands, Screamer hats and Go Girl, as well as creating the business website for Singletrack, which is based in a new HQ on the Shap Road Industrial Estate.

To prove they are in the right gear for the role, SYPO can boast an experienced cyclist on their staff team.

Senior web developer Andrew Tanner, who is a committee member for local cycling club Kent Valley Road Club, has completed the notorious Lakeland Fred Whitton challenge, and his next plan is to cycle from Land’s End to John o’Groats.

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Andrew Tanner

SYPO owner and MD Alan Jewitt said: “If you are going to sell online, it’s important to let customers feel there are real people at the other side of the screen, and we are proud that our team is made up of people who know and understand the real needs of customers, as well as being experts with the technology.”

SYPO has some 200 customers ranging from major enterprises to solo operators; the aim is always to simplify the process of trading via the internet, and to increase efficiency.

The artist and illustrator Evelyn Sinclair uses their services to showcase her work.  Other clients include the award-winning Barking Mad Dog Care at Kirkby Lonsdale, Mickledore Walking Holidays, and The Lakeland Cottage Company, for whom SYPO maintains the website and booking system.

And market-leading car accessory business The Roof Box Company owes much of its success to SYPO who helped launch their e-sales almost 15 years ago.

Singletrack Distribution own or distribute a number of brands in the cycle and outdoor market, and they are to open the new Lakes Cycles store in Kendal this autumn.

Singletrack MD Mark Simpson said: “We have worked with SYPO on a number of occasions and we are confident that they are the experts. We know they do a great job.”

Gold medal for artistic garden in the Lakes

An artist at work in the garden has helped Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel win a gold award.

Cedar Manor is the joint winner, with the Newby Bridge Lakeside Hotel, of Cumbria Tourism’s Cumbria in Bloom competition.

The award comes after several years of collaboration between the hotel’s owner Caroline Kaye and landscape designer Kate Wright.

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Kate, who is also a painter and photographer, is originally a designer and has brought her artistic talent to Caroline’s vision of how the garden of the hotel should be. The garden of the award-winning hotel is dominated by an ancient cedar tree which guards the entrance.

Says Kate: “I like to explore the idea of a garden as a painting, utilising the planting to this effect. The aim is to develop the garden at Cedar Manor so that it seamlessly moves through the seasons, and with each turn, a new picture comes into focus.”

Bowness-born Kate, who has a degree in design from Manchester University, also teaches art and design part time.

“The design brief at Cedar Manor continues to unravel, and future projects including further focused expansion of planting, with a limited pallet of colour, to complement and enhance the powder pastel shades of the existing hydrangeas,” Kate says. “This will then be brought into sharp focus with a sustainable mix of perennials, and seasonal plants with a white accent. The aim is to enhance the existing grounds, and provide the guests with an enchanting haven to relax in, and explore.”

Caroline Kaye said: “Kate has worked wonders here, and we are really thrilled to win the gold award. We believe it’s really important to create a beautiful space outside as well as inside the hotel.”