No Trespassing in the Lake District

The Holiday Fellowship (HF) has always been a mainstay of the rambling movement. As I recall, its founder, T. Arthur Leonard, was the first president of the Ramblers Association. He set up the HF on the grounds that his previous creation, the CHA, had become too middle-class and was ignoring the holiday needs of working people.

Welcome to the Holiday Fellowship (c) John Bainbridge 2020

So it was a bit disconcerting yesterday to pass the gateway of the HF at Portinscale, on the shores of Derwent Water to see a blatant “No Trespassing” notice propped up – complete with a spelling howler. Now I appreciate they may have have had some difficulties. But even so…

Woodland above Copperheap Bay (c) John Bainbridge 2020

It’s not that you could mistake the entrance to their property as anything but the entrance to a private property. Surely a simple “Private” notice would do, rather than an aggressive notice more suited to a gated estate or a secret government establishment.

Surely not what T. Arthur Leonard would have wanted…

One of the few glimpses of the lake (c) John Bainbridge 2020

We walked out from Keswick and round to Fawe Park and its woodlands to visit the scene of the Victorian Mass Trespass of 1887, when the Spencer-Bell family tried to close the footpaths that had run through the beautiful Fawe Park Woods for generations.DSCF2108

Back then, hundreds of locals and visitors marched from Keswick and tore down the barricades put up by the Spencer-Bell family. They achieved much, but not enough. Much of the woodlands around Fawe Park are still closed off to the public.

Despite the footpath being part of the circuit of Derwent Water Circuit Path, you get very little chance to be by the lakeshore until you get to Hawse End. Just glimpses from the marina at Nichol End and the permissive and private jetty at Lingholm.

Not a Public Footpath (c) John Bainbridge 2020

For one of the most beautiful lakes in England surely this is a poor show? And it makes a nonsense of the Derwent Water Circuit Path.

Walkers on Catbells (c) John Bainbridge 2020

We saw many walkers on the path through the Fawe Park woodlands, lots more going up Catbells. Elsewhere, as you walk through these once-open woods, you encounter yet more forbidding notices.

Walkers Not Welcome (c) John Bainbridge 2020

Not all the dreams of the Victorian Mass Trespassers have been achieved…

More about the Fawe Park Victorian Mass Trespass in my book. Now out in paperback and as an eBook on Kindle.

Published by John Bainbridge

Rambler, hillwalker, stravaiger and trespasser, access campaigner. Novelist writing historical and period crime fiction.

6 thoughts on “No Trespassing in the Lake District

  1. I stayed at Portinscale last year, as it seemed to be impossible to find a hotel in Keswick where you could actually park your car, and I thought I’d be able to have a nice walk along the lake shore … only to find that practically everywhere was “no entry” 😦 .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes I’ve always been frustrated walking around Derwentwater. On the east side there is a busy road and on the west, as you say, lots of private property.
    I can’t see any improvement in the near future, where is the impetus to come from?
    Apart from you John there are few voices calling for change.
    No all we will get are the ‘hoards’ who treat it as there back yard leaving rubbish galore which only strengthens the resolve of the landowning few.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting that, until the Spencer-Bell family got the land, the public were free not just to use the paths but to roam freely on the lakeshore and woods. The path that’s now the Cumbria Way was probably the old corpse road from Borrowdale to Keswic. Cheers JB


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