Great Landscapes Festival 2022

Great Landscapes offer endless opportunities for physical, spiritual and mental well-being but they are also under threat and, in our busy lives, we can take for granted the true beauty and importance of what is above, below and all around us.

I’m not just talking about joining Friends of the Lake District, although we would be delighted to welcome you and your support.

According to YouGov, the Lake District is officially our favourite National Park. It was preferred by 27% of us. None of the others even made it into double figures. One sign of this popularity is the current BBCTV series from Paul Rose. It is the latest opportunity to enjoy the Lake District “second hand”. For many generations Lakes lovers have been able to savour the “poet’s expression and painter’s eye”. Then we could enjoy the output of photographers and film-makers, and now we have bloggers, vloggers, YouTubers and Instagrammers.

Digital photography, HD screens and other modern technologies can show us remarkable degrees of detail, and perhaps sights or special views that we have little opportunity of experiencing. These will strike our imagination for a moment. And yet, most of us would contend that being there for real will stir us more deeply than even the finest of reproductions. There is far more to experiencing our surroundings than simply with our eyes.

Being there, with every sense being stretched and pleasured is a far greater sensation. The eye can find its own vista, delighting in changes of colour, shape or light. We are assailed with scents in the air or brushing through plants and sounds that can change every few steps; the touch of a breeze, a wave of the sun’s warmth, or the taste as we pick some wild grown fruit or even just chew a stem of grass. The adrenaline rush from our own activities, done our own way, in our own time, whether simply cresting a familiar rise in an unfamiliar light, hurtling along on a bicycle or diving into a lake.

It is more important than ever that we remember this. National Parks have been national news this year, but not always for positive reasons. We have had to defend our special landscapes, even though they have special protection, against threats from zip wires and now perhaps from cable cars.

Important victories to win and important points to make, but all of this focuses attention on simply defending our National Parks. They should, no, must, also be celebrated. They were created not just to be protected for all, but to be enjoyed by all. Even then, we were talking about wellbeing. One politician back in 1929 said that National parks were needed “For the brain weary workers in crowded urban areas”.

If anything, our brains are now wearier and our urban areas more crowded than they were back then. The pressures of our hustley-bustley lives can leave us little time for these simplest yet deepest and most true of pleasures.

So, continue following Paul Rose’s series. Go to see Terry Abraham’s next film. Buy your calendars and cards from Friends of the Lake District. But if you really want to feed your senses, you know where to come.