SENSE OF HERE

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Wilderness was never a homogenous raw material. It was very diverse, and the resulting artifacts are very diverse. These differences in the end-product are known as cultures. The rich diversity of the world’s cultures reflects a corresponding diversity in the wilds that gave them birth.

Aldo Leopold, 1949
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Moment is a place in land and a place in time

for now, this is my choice: just to sit and be

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“It is my soul’s food, my mental calm and my physical energy. I need access to the outdoors, fresh air away from the sound of cars, smell of exhaust and sight of tarmac at least once a week.”

This is one of the views shared through the Sense of Here questionnaire. Why does green space matter to you? And what are you concerned about? And if you have a connection to the Lake District, what is it that you value? 

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We have been blanketed in cloud, wetted through, walking within a multi-directional wetting. We headed downhill to seek a ghyll with a fresh flow of water, and all of a sudden the clouds lifted, danced in front of us, dressed and undressed the hills, rolled up from the valley and then back down again.

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We set out just before seven, sky pale blue and pink, the air a riot of birdsong: wrens, woodpeckers, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits, chaffinches and others I can’t name. We’re in the Haweswater valley, surrounded by trees, many of them old, lumbering giants, covered with moss and ferns. 

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A camp just for one night takes us a long way out of the normal counting of days. Each camp is a journey – the settling into a rhythm, the tug of walking up hill, the sensation of looking down across the path we’ve ascended, the moment of awe at the highest points, and the changing view as light shifts. We witness threshold times: dusk and dawn, and the depths of night, dark window onto the universe of which we are such a tiny, tiny part.

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Just because you know a place it doesn’t mean it will ever feel the same twice. Today our walk takes me back in time, to memories of sitting in a cottage windowsill and watching snow fall, memories of daring dips in a chilled lake, memories of late night card games, days in front of the fire, walks into Martindale, warm, simple dinners shared with friends.

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This is one of our favourite images from a sunrise walk to the summit of Dollywagon Pike, looking across to the ridge of Helvellyn, and the pointed top of Catsycam. Being out there, no one else in sight, the light slowly changing on the snow-covered hills, is a very special thing. Somehow it makes us feel even smaller, just two specks in a land dominated by rock and snow and a biting wind.

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This wintering land presents itself in the skeletal shapes of trees and light that comes and goes with the skudding clouds. The wind is a roar through the leafless oaks. The sun is warm, though, and I heat up quickly once we start walking up hill, a gradual ascent on a balcony path from Hartsop towards Boredale Hause.

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I walk in and between / this place shaped by cultures / the walls and paths and fields of humans / the culture of trees in touch with one another and the soil around them through an underground web

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Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words have never left me – when I find myself among trees they seem to always come back.

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The highest peaks are catching the last rays of sun as it dips in the west, sending the land into shadow. It’s just before 4pm and I’m looking over lines of grey on green, each fell writing itself on those beyond it, lines of light and dark writing the passing of time, another day’s turn. 

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