Patients arriving recently at Ambleside Health Centre were treated to a cheering sight for sore eyes – a fairy-tale Christmas tree with not a glitzy bauble or hint of tinsel in sight. Instead, the novelties hung on its branches used nothing more than dried orange slices, pine cones, twigs and paperchains made from recycled brown paper.
The super-sustainable festive decorations are hand-made by Ann-Marie Verner and Jo Jackson, and make full use of anything they can recycle. Both of them enjoy hill walking and tackle a different walk with friends each week, stopping only to gather up discarded litter and plastic – and dropped gloves.
Every year a surprising number of fell walkers, including many little ones with very small hands, don’t notice they’ve dropped a glove or mitten. Quite a number of these end up, in true Blue Peter style, as ones that Ann-Marie (who is is medical secretary at Ambleside’s Central Lakes Medical Group) and Jo found earlier, and were strung up round the Health Centre foyer, adorned with jingle bells and tiny wooden star buttons on their woollen fingers, and pegged between recycled pages of Wainwright walks. The cost of it all was nil, with the added bonus of days spent out-of-doors on the hills as the Wainwrighters gathered their ‘finds’.
The pair completed all 214 Wainwrights a few years ago and are now ticking off the Birketts, of which there are 541, including 209 of the 214 Wainwrights, and 59 of the 116 Wainwright Outlying Fells. Ann-Marie and Jo are up to number 311 so far. Ann-Marie also notched up 365 fell summits last year, not all different ones, some as local as a quick dash up Todd Crag, others day-long multi-top hikes. She started and finished with Wansfell, and is now on the journey again this year.