Working for conservation organisation Friends of the Lake District, there are times when the day job in the office is blissfully interrupted by a chance to get out and experience the landscape we work to protect. Today was my turn to leave the emails behind and get a lungful of Cumbrian air.

Of course it was raining. Steady, constant rain with a mission to replenish the lakes and reservoirs and give the greenery a good soaking. I wasn’t going to go on the walk down to our meadow in High Borrowdale; I’m too busy I told myself, and don’t have the time to have a luxurious ramble to witness the wildflower haymeadow at its best. However, once I’d dropped some of our walkers off and seen the stretch of hills and smelt the air I changed my mind and thought – sod it, I’m off.

Donning my emergency wellies kept in the boot of the car and a pair of old waterproof trousers long abandoned by someone with a much longer leg than me we set off. Supporters and members of Friends of the Lake District are a hardy bunch and they didn’t let a splash of rain stop them from joining us to witness the meadow in bloom.

It’s a pleasant downhill stroll to the haymeadow in the valley and we stopped to hear about the reasons we bought our patch of valley that is now part of the Lake District National Park. Jan Darrall, our Policy Officer who manages the land with a team of dedicated volunteers, is a fountain of knowledge on the area and habitat and I always learn something new whenever she speaks with supporters.

We were also in the company of artist and poet, Harriet Fraser. Harriet had spent a month living in the meadow in a tent back in 2015 and her time there had inspired a collection of poems, ‘Meadow’. As we entered the valley she recited one of her poems and we listened intently, the pitter patter of rain on hoods accompanying her introduction to the valley.

For some reason Harriet’s work always makes me cry; it’s moving and heart felt and I was glad the rain disguised my soppy tears. Her poem invited us to shake off our worries and enter the valley. I did.

Walking in

it takes a while to walk in,

to walk in to a valley

to walk in to the feeling

of being at ease with yourself, with the land

and while walking in, there is a walking out:

out of concerns and out of body strain,

a loosening of spine, legs, shoulders, head

a slow unraveling into openness

that brings, with time,

the sense of walking in,

walking into place

Poem taken from ‘The Long View’ by Harriet and Rob Fraser.

We chatted as we dodged puddles along the track that meanders next to a moody beck. And then I saw it through rain-drenched eyelashes and fringe – a mirage of golden flowers in the distance.

Approaching the meadow made me smile. It was like an eyeful of summer on this wet day. We heard about the trials and tribulations of starting an upland haymeadow and again I was captivated by Jan’s knowledge and passion as she stood there in the rain like a proud mum, hood down, face aglow telling us about how the meadow was born.

Back in the office with a hot face and wet feet (note to self: emergency wellies leak) I sat back at my desk. It wasn’t a morning wasted at all; it was one well spent. We all need to switch off the emails and watch flowers in the rain now and again.

Extract taken from ‘Meadow’ by Harriet Fraser:

all before me flowers, clear air their breath

grass between my toes, blessings counted

like the mystery of a dew drop

Harriet’s book, ‘Meadow’ and ‘The Long View’  are both available from

High Borrowdale is owned and managed by Friends of the Lake District and is situated 8.5 miles north of Kendal. The best way to access it is from the A6, south of Shap. See our property page for details.

You can park at the layby at Hucks Brow (GR553030). From there there is a walk on of a mile or so along a bridleway to the south of the river. Walk up the road from the layby and on the bend take the bridleway east. You reach High Borrowdale after you have crossed the bridge.