We celebrated our 85th birthday at the summit of Latrigg near Keswick on Friday. An open invitation saw members, supporters and many residents make the climb and watch the sun setting below the iconic profile of Skiddaw in the distance on the evening of the summer solstice.

The climb to Latrigg summit on a glorious evening

Founded on 17th June 1934, at a rally in Fitz Park, Keswick, we were originally set up with the single-minded aim to establish a Lake District National Park. Something which they achieved in 1951, when our campaigning led to the Lake District becoming one of England’s first national parks.

Douglas Chalmers, Chief Executive,

“This evening we take time to watch the sun setting over Keswick, to take a breath and reflect on all that has been achieved in our 85 years; tomorrow, there will be more to do and many challenges to face.

“We have never faltered in our commitment and the enthusiasm needed to take action to enhance and conserve the natural beauty of Cumbria’s glorious landscapes for the benefit of visitors, local communities, wildlife and habitats.

“Moments like these, surrounded not only by the landscape that gives us our purpose, but also by many of the people who enable us to do so, simply strengthens our resolve.

“This resolve will serve us well at a time when the need for an independent organisation like ours is greater than at any moment in our history.”

The invitation to the event came with the usual ominous disclaimer, ‘The celebration will go ahead in wet/poor weather unless it is unsafe to do so i.e. high winds, poor visibility or lightning’ but the crowd at the summit – for once – needn’t have worried.

Assembled supporters were treated to a glorious sunset, a spectacular birthday cake – a creation by talented cake maker Joanne Dixon (Cakes Galore) - and champagne to toast Friends of the Lake District in recognition of our enduring presence as an independent charity with the enhancement and protection of Cumbria’s landscape at its heart.

Friends of the Lake District staff celebrate the 85th anniversary at Latrigg summit

The birthday cake! Created by Joanne Dixon (Cakes Galore)

Sun setting on the evening of the summer solstice - Latrigg summit

A Poem for the Lake District National Park

by Douglas Chalmers

Friends were here before your start,

have had your best interests at heart.

Friends are honest. Friends support.

Friends will help your threats to thwart.

Always there, through thick and thin,

when there are tough campaigns to win.

There when the road is rough or tough,

when all the others cry, “Enough”!

Friends keep you safe, help you improve,

trust each other, naught to prove.

Friends will always take a stance,

help you get better, to enhance.

Friends react to your alarm.

Friends will keep you safe from harm.

Friends will always take your case,

And keep this Park a special place.