New Yorker completes race in north west…England

A medal is on its way to New York after an American runner took part in a virtual race near Kendal.

Paul d’Elisa, a New York real estate manager with 18 marathons under his belt, signed up for the Stainton Aqueduct 10k organised by Kendal-based Jogging Pals when lockdown forced the cancellation of the actual event.

Organisers wanted to keep runners active by running 10k along the Lancaster to Kendal canal…or anywhere. They offered a commemorative token to runners who emailed proof of the distance…and New Yorker Paul was one of more than 60 runners who took up the challenge.

Paul runs trail

“I was looking for a virtual event that was specifically for trail, as I live near the route of a trail race here that had to be cancelled,” said Paul, who’s been running since high school cross country races in 1979.

He has been doing more running since mid-March when the global pandemic meant he had to work from home rather than do a four-hour round trip commute to work in New York city every day.

Paul has completed more than 1000 events from 5k to marathon distance, including the New York marathon, the Country Music Marathon, and trail races at Paumanok (Long Island), Brookhaven and Sunken Meadow state park. And he took part in the Serpentine 5k race on a visit to the UK in 2006.

Jogging Pals director Wayne Singleton said that runners from around the UK, who would have been unlikely entries in the real event, had signed up for the virtual race.

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Scenic route: Lancaster canal

“We are here to encourage runners at all levels of ability, and we were determined to help them keep motivated even while events have been cancelled,” he said. “It was a great surprise to get an entry from New York.” A percentage of the entry fee will be going to to the Lancaster Canal Regeneration Partnership.

Jogging Pals organise couch to 5k programmes, along with run coaching for longer distances and events, from the Community Mile to Lakeland running breaks and holidays. They hope to resume some of their events in the near future.





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What’s open in the Lake District

After weeks of planning, hoping and waiting for official confirmation, it’s going to be possible to come and stay in the Lakes from July 4.

Hotels, guest houses and holiday cottages will be opening, though many will not be fully open immediately.

So if you’ve been longing to have a holiday and love the Lakes, what can you expect to find as lockdown eases?

Most of the car parks are now open, but there’s an alert scheme to let you know when they’re too busy:

You can check on this site to find out which public toilets are open, too. Remember that some attractions which are opening their gardens and outdoor spaces might not have loos available yet.

The biggest attraction in the South Lakes, Windermere Cruises, will have self drive boats available, and is making plans for how and when to start operating cruises.

Grasmere’s Heaton Cooper Studio and Gallery will be opening during the week beginning July 6. This is the leading gallery of landscape art in the Lake District, showing the work of generations of the same family of artists along with visiting exhibitors.

The gardens at Muncaster Castle are open daily, but tickets must be bought online in advance and numbers will be limited.

Likewise at Rydal Mount, where the house and tea-room remain closed, but the gardens are open:

Gardens at Rydal Mount

Zeffirellis café and restaurant in Ambleside is opening , along with two of their five cinema screens. Seating will be limited, with spaces between seats and staggered patterns of seating so that there will be no one directly in front or behind another.

The National Trust has opened the gardens at Sizergh Castle and Fell Foot, along with the car park at Aira Force near Ullswater. Parking needs to be booked in advance.

Beatrix Potter’s house at Hill Top is closed. Likewise, for this month at least, the World of Beatrix Potter attraction in Bowness. Ullswater Steamers is hoping to re-open July 6.

Hayes Garden World is open weekdays only, 10-4, with a very strict safety social distancing and queuing regime.

It seems sad that we should have to remind visitors to the Lakes to respect the Countryside Code, to take their litter home, and not to light barbecues or fires. The responsibility lies with everyone to plan ahead and make the correct preparations to support safe, considerate tourism.

Businesses and organisations like the Lake District National Park Authority, Cumbria Police, Cumbria County Council and other local authorities are working hard behind the scenes to put in place all the necessary measures to enable visitors to enjoy safe and responsible visits to the county.

Here’s a further list of some attractions you might want to visit.


Further information:


It’s Saturday, 9am, and it’s not-parkrun

“I’d like to welcome you all to Brathay Church Bridge parkrun. Do we have any tourists? Any first timers?” A sheep in the next field raises its head momentarily. My friend Jo doesn’t even raise her eyebrows any longer. I let her be RD one week, though we take it in turns to be tailwalker.

It’s Saturday, it’s 9am, and it would take more than a global pandemic to stop me turning up for parkrun. The first week of lockdown, I ran solo, doing 2.5k each way out and back from the front door.

Then Jo had a better idea. Initially meeting accidentally, and always running or walking at a respectable distance, we started our series of not-parkruns from bridges, a different one each week. Thirteen so far, and all but one within warm-up distance from home. A dozen have been out and back; one, a challenging and hilly route starting on the lower slopes of Wansfell, was a circuit that included the Billy Goats Gruff Bridge.

We are lucky (my most-often-used three words over the last three months) to live where we do, in the heart of the Lake District where there are not only lakes, but also many rivers and becks with bridges over them.

Jo has standards. An older, stone bridge will take precedence in route selection over a more modern wooden or metal structure. Which is why we were starting today from the footbridge to Brathay church rather than the nearby Bronwen Nixon Memorial Bridge (mainly wood, on a metal girder base) which will have to be chosen eventually when we run out of more substantial edifices.

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The route of not-parkrun number six

There have been two from Rydal. The Rydal Grotto bridge route took us across the road, through the woods and along the lake shore, while the Rydal tea-room bridge followed a steeper trail along the Coffin Route in the direction of Grasmere. Steeper still was the ascent of Skelghyll woods from our starting point at the Bridge House in Ambleside.

The town now has its own real parkrun, in nearby Rothay Park, one of the infants of the parkrun family with only six events held before lockdown. We wouldn’t run round there on a Saturday, of course, in keeping with HQ requests, but we can report that the local council has created a new path linking Miller Field to the main gate, which means the volunteers will no longer have to lay the artificial “path of doom”.

But we have done a not-parkrun from the far side of the park, from Miller Bridge (out to Waterhead and back). Fastest route? Pelter Bridge to Clappersgate and back, all on tarmac. Most enjoyable? Probably Skelwith Bridge, out and back towards Elterwater. (There’s another bridge near Skelwith waterfalls we can use for a subsequent starting point.)

The search for new ones comes naturally to this tourist (104 different events to date). And the routine has been almost as priceless as the regularity of human company; anyone living alone will recognise the limitations of conversational responses when talking to the teapot.

It’s familiar. It’s what I’ve done every Saturday for the past ten years, and what I’ve missed more than anything else during these crazy times. And, yes, of course I wear my apricot tee-shirt and my barcode wristband (fastened around the wrist on Friday night, so that when I wake in the morning I’ll know it’s Saturday). And yes, we go for a (take-away) coffee afterwards. Virtual parkruns concentrate on recording times, and mine have been enfeebled by injury. Zoom chats with the core team at Fell Foot, my home parkrun, have only made me long even more achingly for the real thing.

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Longing for the real thing

So we carry on, with the ritual weekly briefings. So far we’ve had no dogs, no under-11s to be kept on a short lead, no milestones to celebrate. Jo’s birthday is coming up soon-ish, but that’s on a Sunday. The proper celebrations will happen when we can all get together for the real thing. Who cares if July 4 is the date we can go in pubs or to cinemas or dine out? That’s officially New Zealand parkrun-envy day.

Eileen Jones

Bid to fund national memorial for NHS covid victims

An award-winning photographer from Cumbria has launched a million-pound appeal for a national memorial to all NHS staff and carers who have died from Covid-19.

Ashley Cooper, a photographer and environmental campaigner, believes the country should have a permanent memorial to those who die “in the line of duty”.

Ashley Cooper 1

Ashley Cooper: honour NHS victims

He has started a crowd-funding campaign for a place where all affected families can go to grieve and to feel ultimate pride in the sacrifice that their loved ones made.

Ashley, who lives in Ambleside, is the son of a nurse and has two sisters working for the NHS. “So I care that we value the sacrifices our NHS staff and carers are making,” he says.

“As a child of the early 1960’s I grew up listening to tales of heroism and bravery of those who fought in the Battle of Britain. People who were prepared to put their own lives on the line to protect our people and country. At the end of the war, memorials were erected and every year we go to them to remember them and to pay our respects.

“We are still in the middle of this awful crisis and sadly many more will die yet. I do not want them to be forgotten. I want the country to erect a fitting, national memorial to all those who died from the virus in the line of duty. Please join me in raising the funds so that when this is all over we can erect a memorial to make our heroes proud.”

Ashley is no stranger to tackling large-scale campaigns. He spent many years touring every continent taking photographs to document the impacts of climate change, and his subsequent book, Images from a Warming Planet, has become a bible for environmental campaigners.

The book won awards, and Ashley was granted the status of Green World ambassador.

So far the book has reached a wide audience, helping to communicate the urgency of the climate change message, copies now owned by Pope Francis, Prince Charles, Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Sir Tim Smit, Emma Thompson, Chris Packham, Vivienne Westwood, Chris Bonington, Levi Roots and many more.

He says: “Today we face a different kind of crisis. Our doctors, nurses, carers and all staff in the NHS bravely go into work each day, knowing they are potentially endangering their own lives. Often they are forced to treat Covid patients with inadequate PPE. They work in horrendous conditions for long hours with the utmost care for their patients. Tragically many of them have paid the ultimate sacrifice and died from this dreadful virus.
“They could have stayed at home, but they chose instead to put themselves willingly on the front line to care for and protect our loved ones.”

Donations can be made at
Photo: Ashley Cooper

Further information: Ashley Cooper, 07590 984302

New Lakes fell race to be postponed

The organisers of a new fell race in the Lake District which was due to be trialled tonight have promised it will be staged next year.

It was hoped that, if successful, the Wansfell Two-Step would become a regular fixture on the fellrunning calendar.

The three-mile race up 1600 ft Wansfell Pike from Ambleside was being organised by Wayne Singleton whose Jogging Pals team run coaching sessions and running holidays.

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And in the spirit of longer – and longer established – races on the fixture list, such as the Old Counties Tops, Haworth Hobble, and Hodgson Brothers Relay, competitors were to run in pairs.

“But we are aware there have been issues at these events with one runner running faster than the other, and not reaching checkpoints at the same time,” said Wayne. “Runners have even been disqualified as it’s in the rules that they stay together.”

So to overcome the problem, runners in this race would have their legs strapped together. “In effect, it will be a three-legged race,” said Wayne. “ It will be a whole new challenge for fell runners.

“We hope to try again once the current crisis has passed. At the moment, the last thing we want is people running close together.”

Wayne (6ft 6 ins) was due to take part strapped to diminutive ultra runner, Ambleside AC’s Jo Kilkenny (5ft 1), who was in training for the now-postponed Celtman triathlon.

Wayne and Jo training

Jo and Wayne training earlier this year before social distancing measures were introduced

“It would have been convenient as my coach had me down to do hill reps that night,” said Jo. “This would have done very nicely instead. And it would be fun to be tied to a man. I’m looking forward to racing this eventually.”

World mountain running champion Sarah McCormack was also due to take part. “I was really looking forward to running with a faster man for a change,” she said. “Now, following government advice, my only permitted training partner is Paul Tierney*.”

Sarah McCormack

Sarah McCormack

The event was to be sponsored by The Climbers’ Shop in Ambleside. Executive Events Director, Cathy Casey, said they were thrilled to be involved in the exciting new venture. “We’re confident that three legged ultra is a great new sector to trail running and have been working with our suppliers to ensure we can have the best running equipment, three-legged run pants, available to them to buy for next year.”

Runners wanting more information are asked to email


*Sarah’s partner Paul Tierney last year set a new record of just over six days for running all 214 Wainwright fells in the Lake District.



Marketing for an eco-future

Businesses that are paying more than lip service to environmental issues should be shouting about their efforts.

That’s the advice to firms in Cumbria from the team that’s leading the way in advice and help for a sustainable business future.

Now the ERDF-funded Eco-Innovation programme in Cumbria is to stage a free workshop to show just how eco-values can be communicated to customers, and the wider business community.

“Environmentally aware consumers are increasingly influenced by the effects that their purchase decisions have on the environment,” says Eco-Innovation Cumbria project manager Glyn Griffiths.

“This, in turn, is driving businesses to consider their own products, services and behaviour from an environmental as well as a sustainability perspective.

“Effective marketing is core to the future success of any company’s eco-strategy. Our workshop will show you how to apply the marketing principles to the challenges of developing successful marketing campaigns for sustainable products and businesses.”

To be staged at the North Lakes Hotel on Thursday March 26, the interactive session will provide delegates with new networks as well as new understanding of the challenges and modern marketing best practice in a sustainable economy.

The workshop is being delivered by Gillian Brown and Alister Minty from Entrepreneur Business School (EBS). EBS is a network of successful business leaders, each of whom has started and grown one or more new technology businesses, raised equity investment or venture capital and led their company through a significant corporate event.

They are all still active in their own companies, across diverse industries and global markets and use their experience, knowledge and expertise to bring competitive advantage to projects and companies.

For further details and how to sign up, see




Monster plan to save the Lakes’ environment

A nature trail to encourage children to care for the environment has been launched – with the help of a mythical Windermere monster.

Bownessie will be leading youngsters and their families along the lakeside trail pointing out areas of eco-concern and natural history.

The project has been developed by a Windermere businesswoman assisted by two conservation interns attached to the University of Cumbria.

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“We want to engage with children so we can nurture passionate environmentalists and encourage them to influence the people around them,” said Ffion Beavis, a marine conservation undergraduate at the University’s Ambleside campus.

She and Louise Mercer, who has a Masters degree in environmental science from Utah in the USA, are working with Naz Craig, who created the Bownessie toy and children’s brand. Families can download trail details, a quiz, and a rainy-day pack from the website, with the chance for children to win virtual badges with their suggestions of ways to protect the lake environment.

Said Louise: “Children are naturally curious about the world around them. As we’ve seen with the Greta Thunberg environmental movement, children a have huge impact on vital messages and actions.

“We don’t want to burden them. They should enjoy the lakes, mountains, woodlands and wetlands as we did, but learning through initiatives like Bownessie, which includes activity and information packs, there’s a lot of fun to be had too.”

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The scheme is part of the ambitious £2.3 million European Regional Development Fund’s Eco-Innovation project in Cumbria, which aims to help small and medium sized businesses reduce CO2. It provides fully financed internships to eligible companies through student researchers and graduates, supporting a wide range of projects, including waste reduction and improving efficiency.

The myth of Bownessie started 15 years ago with reported “sightings” of a large creature in the northern waters of Windermere. Scientists have found no evidence, but the legend grew following the televising in Canada and the USA of an hour-long documentary about the Windermere monster.

Naz Craig developed a cuddly toy and other items in her Bownessie brand – tee shirts, key rings, colouring books – and is seeking financial backing to develop the range further. She is delighted her brainchild is being used to such a good planet-saving effect. “It’s a chance to give every child a vital insight into how small actions can make a massive difference. This way, there’s a fun element, as well as the educational impact.”

Louise, an international fell-runner who hails from the Scottish borders, grew up with stories of the world-famous Loch Ness monster and admits nobody knows for sure what lurks beneath Windermere’s deep, dark water. “What I do know is that millions of visitors come here each year. If we can reach them and show the benefits of making slight tweaks to everyday lives, there’s real potential to create a sustainable future.”

Ffion, originally from Gloucestershire, said: “Adults hear the news, know we have to cut CO2 emissions, but remain disconnected. This way, with children looking out for items along the trail, there’s a chance for whole families to become involved.”

Both Ffion and Louise hope to make careers in education and promoting sustainable behaviour change.

Find out more on:

Help fund the project here 

Eco-Innovation Cumbria is led by University of Cumbria in partnership with Lancaster University and the University of Central Lancashire.





Handy decoration from the fells brightens up health centre

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’.

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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.


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Author wins Lake District competition

An author who loves the Lakes has won a competition organised by a top Windermere hotel.

Katharine Norbury was one of several hundred people who entered the online competition to win a free stay at the award-winning Cedar Manor.

Her name was pulled out of a hat by hotel owner Jonathan Kaye.

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Katharine Norbury is an author, audio-book reader and regular contributor to the Guardian.  After training as a film editor with the BBC she studied Creative Writing at UEA and has a PhD in creative and critical writing from the University of Huddersfield.

Katharine spent 20 years in the film and television industry before writing her first book The Fish Ladder: a Journey Upstream (2015) which combines travelogue, memoir and a celebration of the natural world. Said Jonathan: “Anyone who has read it will know that Katharine loves the Lake District, so we will be very pleased to welcome her here.”

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Katharine Norbury. Photo by Robin Farquhar-Thomson

The Fish Ladder: a Journey Upstream, which was published to great critical acclaim in 2015, was shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize 2016, longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2015, awarded the Telegraph Book of the Year 2015 and Katharine was selected as the Observer Rising Star in non-fiction for 2015. The book is now being developed into a feature film for which Katharine is writing the screenplay.

Katharine is currently working on an anthology of women’s writing about nature in the archipelago of Britain and Ireland, Women on Nature with Unbound and a second work of creative non-fiction about the idea of home.

The Cedar Manor has just  been given the AA Gold award and five stars for their guest accommodation, along with a coveted breakfast award.

Based on the outskirts of Windermere, the Cedar Manor has ten luxurious rooms including a self-contained suite, and has won a host of top awards over the years since  Jonathan and his wife Caroline took the helm. They have been prize winners for design, customer service, and green credentials, taking the sustainability award at the Cateys, the Oscars of the hospitality world.

Five stars means awareness of each guest’s needs with nothing being too much trouble. AA Gold Stars are awarded to the very best properties offering excellent levels of quality throughout and outstanding levels of hospitality and service.


Lakes hotelier joins the national judges

Windermere hotelier Jonathan Kaye joined the judging panel for the hospitality industry’s top award event in London.

Jonathan was invited to be a judge at the Hotel Catey Awards at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel in London. The presentation dinner was attended by 750 guests, representing the best of the British hotel industry. Jonathan was there with his wife, Caroline.

The Cedar Manor has regularly featured in the finals, and last year was judged to be the UK’s top hotel in the sustainability category.

Since they started in 1984 the Cateys have become established as a celebration of UK hospitality, showcasing innovative brands and trail-blazing individuals who are nominated, selected and rewarded by their peers.

Jonathan and Caroline Kaye

Jonathan and Caroline Kaye

Jonathan said: “It was a great honour to be asked to join the judging panel after Caroline and I have attended many ceremonies as finalists and guests. The UK has the best hotels in all the world, and our association with the Cateys has helped us develop and improve our own hotel to be a world class establishment in the Lake District.”