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Countrystride #109: AIRA FORCE - Lakeland pleasure ground which we take a timeless tour of Aira Force – one of Lakeland's enduring honeypots – to uncover a history that takes in Victorian tourists, Colonial tree collectors and Baronial money and power. Treading paths trod for generations, we set out from the Pinetum glade in the company of National Trust Curator Harvey Wilkinson and consider Aira Force's early days, when oaks dominated the gorge and deer swept the fells. Entering woodland, we discuss the one-time estate's transition to pleasure ground in the age of the nouveau riche Merchant Princes of northern England. With diversions to talk Potter, politics and poetry, we reach the mighty Force itself, where we consider the sublime power that still draws crowds in their hundred-thousand, and the management challenges that face the Trust in an era of heavy footfall and increasingly extreme weather.

Aira Force, and its top bridge.

Our guest for the day in front fo the falls: National Trust Curator Harvey Wilkinson.

Dave and Harvey.

Evoking the old days: the new gantry-way.


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