The seven-eight o’clock segment (240 – 270 degrees from the centre). You can take a look around the area by browsing the interactive map.
The August section of the Lake District spreads out from the Under Helm Sycamore all the way to the coast. It’s an area of high fells and broad valleys, and the layout of the landscape means that houses and farms are scattered, and, until the land evens out towards the coast, there are very few roads. One of these is Hardknott Pass, not to be taken lightly, and often impassable in winter: it winds and climbs steeply to connect the Langdale Valley with Eskdale. At its high point, the road passes the remains of Hardknott Fort, once the garrison of Roman soldiers. They might have bemoaned the times of rain, drizzle and driving rain in this exposed spot, but the views on good days would have compensated – all the way down Eskdale to the flatlands of the west coast, and the sea beyond. Today, you can see the domes and towers of name of Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant from here – quite a contrast to the empty fells in the heart of the Lakes.
This segment also includes the stunning Duddon Valley, one of the most wooded valleys in the area and, beyond this, the last high fell in the southwest corner of the Lake District, Black Combe, which over looks Millom, once home to the poet Norman Nicholson who stands alongside William Wordsworth as one of the great Lake Poets. The coastal edgelands alternate between sandy stretches, stony banks, and wetland. It’s a quieter, seldom explored area with close links to Cumbria’s industrial past and present.
August can be a month of torrential downpours and it’s not unusual to have severe storms. On the other hand there may be some extended periods of warmth. One thing we may make a point of is spending our nights in the middle of the month stargazing: no better place than the tops of fells, well away from towns, to watch the Perseid meteor showers.
The August Issue ~ Hill Farming
The Lake District landscape has been shaped over many centuries by hill farmers. Cumbria has the largest area of common land in western Europe; this is land on which a number of people – the graziers – have rights to graze flocks. Most of the common areas are high and rough, and unfenced; lower down the valley sides the intake and inbye farmland is typically marked out by dry stone walls. There is a strong tradition based around hill sheep that become ‘hefted’ to the land, but as with any farming system practices have been subtly adapting to change over the years. When we consider hill farming for this month’s essay, we’ll reflect on traditional practices and environmental issues, and talk to farmers, farming organisations and land owners about their visions going forwards, including adaptations that take account of a changing climate, the challenge of improving wildlife habitats and, of course, politics.
Walking, Camping & the Canvas
For more detail on where we’ve been walking and camping, who we’ve been talking to, and the August Canvas, check the map and the August blog posts.