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Countrystride #100: WHY WE LOVE THE LAKES which we celebrate our 100th birthday with an ascent of Grasmere's favourite fell, Helm Crag, to consider the question: "What is the unique magic of the Lake District?" In the company of Little Langdale cragsman and author Bill Birkett, poet Harriet Fraser, photographer Rob Fraser and – sharing our birthday – 90-year-old Gordon Bambrough, we enjoy blue skies as we climb steadily to The Lion and the Lamb's rocky top. As we walk, we explore our own relationships with Cumbria, how each of us fell in love with north-country landscapes, and what the fells mean to us. As we rove, we are joined by dozens of Lakes-lovers who answer the same enduring question: "What is the magic of Lakeland for you?" before picking a piece of poetry or prose that articulates the magic for them.

  • Our readers for the episode – with many thanks – are the brilliant Sue Allan and Jonathan Humble.

  • Emily Hasler's poem 'Grasmere Lake' is taken from The Built Environment and is published by Pavilion Poetry at Liverpool University Press.

  • With thanks to all of our many contributors to this episode: you're all stars :-)

Helm Crag: our 100th birthday ascent.

Our group for the day, from left: Harriet Fraser, Rob Fraser, Bill Birkett, Mark Richards, Dave Felton, Gordon Bambrough and Sam Read's Elaine Nelson.

Abandoned quarryman's hut: where 'bait' or 'scran' would once have been enjoyed.

Rob and Gordon.

The Howitzer.

Atop 'The Lion' (the Lamb is left).

Group just below the summit - which is a graded scramble.


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