Diary of Lakeland events

I try to keep up to date with events, activities and festivals in the Keswick area and more widely in the Lake District and Cumbria, but it is easy to miss something.

This last week however I have come across a great resource, a website which covers the whole of the area. You can search the Wordsworthcountry website by 36 different towns from Alston to Workington. Below we include a snapshot of Keswick for the May to July 2014 period.


Sleepless in Seattle

We’ve been spending the last week in Seattle with our family and grandson, Finlay and as usual have been delighted by the facilities and beauty of the city. Not least are the views to be seen from the house where we are staying in the Queen Anne area. The I 5 Freeway shown In the dawn photo below, from our experience is never still whatever time you look out from our deck. Seattle never sleeps!

In the foreground is part of Lake Union, from where the small sea planes take off. But the shock this time was the brilliant display of the Cascade Mountains with the sun rising in the east. We’ve never before seen it so clear. We need to get out for some walking there when we are next here.

Climate change – invest now!

The reports just 17 days ago about the devastating mudslide and loss to date of 30 lives in the USA at the village of Oso in Washington State made international headlines. Locally this remains a major story, with some asking why sensors were not, as a precaution, put in place in advance to monitor water levels on this slide prone slope as is done in Switzerland. (Seattle Times 7 April 2014). Others point out that there has been a history of mudslides in the vicinity and warnings were given of the dangers. Click on the bar below for a timeline of five satellite pictures showing landslides there since 2002.

It has reminded us it was just 21 months ago that Thornthwaite’s Seldom Seen hamlet and The Larches were inundated with a flow of water, mud and debris from the Whinlatter forest after heavy rainfall over a 24 hour period.

These phenomena are not of course new. They’ve happened before and all over the world. And in the scale of things the problems here in Cumbria were not that serious. But they provide evidence – like the reports that last year was the wettest in Britain since records were kept – that we are experiencing here as well as elsewhere the effects of climate change.

It’s important to emphasise however that these adverse effects can be mitigated – a point that was stressed last week by Dr Chris Field, Chair of the IPCC when discussing the implications of their new report

The problems require practical action and ‘ambitious investment’; and this can actually save money. What’s now being spent at Oso to make it safe to continue the search and rescue effort is costing much more than would have been needed for the advance installation of water saturation monitors.

Here in Thornthwaite we have had useful meetings with the Forestry Commission (FC) and others and it’s good to report that work has been done to address some of the problems in the area, which were identified with the FC representatives in the first weeks after the flooding.

As the photo (top) shows, a substantial hard wood planting programme to stabilise the ground has been carried out in the area, close to Comb Beck where a substantial landslide had blocked the public footpath up the beck.

In addition the FC has recognised our criticisms of the initial culverting of the forestry road above The Larches. The single pipe being laid under the road to drain water was simply blocking up with small stones brought down with the water.

Instead two large five feet deep brick chambers with square metal grills have now been built with 15 feet long ‘feeder’ pipes to collect the water run-off and with two feet wide diameter pipes under the road to distribute the water onto the SE slopes and down to Comb Beck. See photo, with arrow indicating grill.

So far this has done the trick and in heavy rain!

Climate change is here – UN

After months of debate and reviews of a mass of scientific reports, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has this last week produced its long debated (second) report on the effects of a warming planet. The report includes a summary of the ten “climate related drivers of impacts” – see figure below.

The report is clear and deeply worrying and affects all of us. No country can avoid the ‘overwhelming’ impact of climate change, but most at risk are those living in low lying areas where rising sea levels will force mass migrations of population to other areas.

Other results of our unwillingness to cut back on carbon emissions will mean tundra regions will warm and polar ice caps melt, crop levels will be affected and fish catches will be smaller. The BBC’s website provides an excellent summary of the report. (http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-26810559)

It’s obvious that despite the evidence of the Impact of global warming on our climate and on future generations, there has been since 2009 – when we first started commenting on this issue on this blog – a growing reluctance by many governments to take the robust actions we need to avert the growing crisis.

Perhaps because of this, Chris Field, the Chair of the IPCC Committee indicates that effective actions can actually be taken. For instance we can build defences against rising sea levels and locally cut CO2 emissions. These actions will require in the words of the report ‘ambitious investment’, but politicians and the constituencies they serve need to understand that in the long run this is the safest and only route that we can take.

A copy of the full report (in pdf format) can be downloaded from the IPCC website.

After the rainstorms

This year has been the wettest we’ve had for years and Cumbria has taken its fair share of the rain. But this last month we’ve been up at The Larches several times and had some good sunny days and wonderful views. Why do so many people stay away from the Lakes at this time of the year and wait for the summer!

The photo above shows off the magnificent view we had from the Belevedere deck to the north east in the early morning. It’s hard to beat The Larches for this view of the Derwent Valley, showing – from left to right – Ullock Pike, Skiddaw, Blencathra, Latrigg and Clough Head. If you walk a few yards to the north to the seat on our High Point crag, you’re able to see Great Dodd too on the Helvellyn range.

From April onwards you’ll have a good chance of having this view with warm sun over a breakfast of coffee and croissant on the Belvedere deck!

The picture below is from one of my favourite local walks in the Keswick area. It’s taken during the late afternoon near the dilapidated shepherd’s cottage on the wide expanse below Blaeberry Fell. There’s a quietness here with only the wind and an occasional cry of the kestrel. The view is of Blaeberry Fell’s northern point, Great Dodd (mostly in cloud) and Clough Head (again) to the left.

Get up there if you can. Take the A591 road out of Keswick towards Thirlmere, which climbs steeply and then turns to the east on a long curve. Then take the turn off to the right to Castlerigg, which comes shortly. You can extend the walk to Ashness Bridge and Watendlath if you want.