The Farmer's Wife by Helen Rebanks, September 2023

Helen Rebanks is a farmer, conservationist, businesswoman, teacher, accomplished cook, mother and wife to James Rebanks, whose first book The Shepherd's Life was a bestseller. Between them they have 4 children, 6 sheepdogs, 2 ponies, 20 chickens, 50 cattle and 500 sheep to care for. In this memoir, structured around a day at their Lake District farm, Helen shares the other side of farming life inspired by the untold lives of farm women.  She also shares some of her favourite recipes and this central theme of food allows her to highlight the pressures faced by modern farmers and how we are all implicated in making informed, beneficial decisions about what we eat and our responsibility when we shop to support good farming practices.

Local Cockermouth Hero, August 2023

Led by captain Ben Stokes, England has won the fifth and final test at The Oval, drawing the Ashes series with Australia 2-2.

Although born in New Zealand, Ben Stoke’s cricketing skills were sharpened in Cockermouth, the Cumbrian town he now calls home.  Cockermouth Cricket Club benefitted from Ben’s all-round talent where he got his first taste of sporting success at the age of 15 when they won the North Lancashire and Cumbria Cricket League Premier Division Title.

Stokes was awarded an OBE in the 2020 New Years Honours for services to cricket and is currently Wisden's Leading Cricketer in the World.

    Britain's Greatest National Park, July 2023

    Assessing everything from natural wonders, peace and quiet to history, culture and luxury, the Daily Telegraph has voted the Lake District as Britain's greatest national park.  With its cascading waterfalls, whitewashed cottages, craggy fells and a collection of stunning lakes, it is British countryside at its most heavenly.  It also offers a visitor experience unlike anywhere else in the country and the pull is irresistible.  As Wordsworth wrote in 1810, it is "a sort of national property, in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy". 

    Save Windermere - Say No To Sewage, June 2023

    Comedians Steve Coogan, Paul Whitehouse and Lee Mack have called sewage pollution a "national scandal" as they joined campaigners to protest against the pollution of Windermere, England's largest lake.  They recently appeared at a rally calling for an end to all treated and untreated sewage discharge into the lake.

    Save Windermere is a registered not-for-profit Community Interest Company that is on a mission to return the lake to its natural state.  They claim that excessively high nutrient levels are destroying Windermere; the single largest input of phosphorous into the lake is sewage discharges from United Utilities.  High phosphorus levels from this sewage are leading to a rapid increase in potentially toxic algae blooms, which damage the wildlife and ecosystem.

    More information on how you can get involved is available on their website

    Ten Thousand Daffodils, May 2023

    A unique installation of over ten thousand ceramic daffodils has opened in the gardens of Lowther Castle.  Inspired by the poetry of William Wordsworth and his celebration of daffodils on the shores of Ullswater, local ceramic artist Helen Ratcliffe initiated and managed the project to raise funds for six deserving charities.  The aim was to support smaller charities who don’t currently receive significant exposure or funds and they were chosen to reflect the overall aims of the project by covering all aspects of social needs, environment, history and arts.

    The project has also brought the local community together.  More than 500 volunteers, including many from local businesses and schools, have spent three months making the ceramic daffodils and planting them in the grounds of the historic castle near Penrith.  Each daffodil is being sold for £25 and can be bought via

    Cumbria County Council Abolished, April 2023

    In the biggest local government restructure since 1974, two new unitary authorities, Cumberland (in the east of the County) and Westmorland and Furness (in the west of the County), will replace Cumbria County Council and the six existing district councils on 1st April.  While the historic counties of Cumberland and Westmorland have been reintroduced, the original boundaries dating back to the 12th Century have changed.  Pre-1974, Glenridding was part of Cumberland, with Ullswater providing a natural divide between the two original counties.  Glenridding is now part of the new Westmorland and Furness council.

    Lake District Ski Club, March 2023

    With cold conditions returning to the UK this month, the Lake District Ski Club has been open for business.

    The club was founded in 1936 by a group of enthusiastic skiers who were looking for a place to ski in the Lake District. Raise, a fell on the main spine of the Helvellyn range, between Ullswater and Thirlmere, was chosen because it provided consistently good snow conditions - and still does!  The club, run entirely by volunteers, operates a 360 metre button tow on Raise, with up to nine distinct, ungroomed pistes available, depending on prevailing conditions; the longest piste is almost a mile along. When conditions are right, Raise offers some serious skiing with incredible views over the surrounding fells for an average of 60 days each winter season.

    Unearthed at Blackwell, February 2023

    Designed by architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott, Blackwell is a Grade I listed building that is one of the UK’s finest examples of Arts & Crafts architecture, offering a perfectly preserved snapshot of early 20th-century living.

    Unearthed is a new installation of intricate wildflower sculptures by Kendal-based visual artist Amy Williams that celebrates the significant contribution of extraordinary women throughout Cumbria’s history who have often remained hidden, over-looked or unrecorded.  The installation takes visual reference from the flora and fauna found within Blackwell’s historic Arts & Crafts interiors, while paying homage to each of the women, including the activist Winifred Langton, who tirelessly campaigned for social justice, and Arts & Crafts designer Annie Garnett, whose Windermere based weaving workshop, The Spinnery, created well paid jobs for the region’s working class.

    Cumbrian Sports Personality of the Year, January 2023

    England Lioness, Georgia Stanway, has been named as Cumbria Sport's Personality of the Year.  Originating from Barrow, Georgia became the all-time top goal scorer at Manchester City, before recently moving to Germany to take up a new challenge with giants Bayern Munich.

    She played a vital part in the England Lionesses victory in this summer's European Championships. She started every game and scored the winning goal in the Quarter Final victory over Spain, with the squad making history as the first senior national football team to win a major championship since the World Cup in 1966.

    Virtual Cumbrian Christmas Market, December 2022

    Cumbria Tourism has launched a Virtual Christmas Market to promote homegrown festive gifts and provide an alternative to impersonal global online retailers. Packed with great gift ideas ranging from local produce to vouchers for fun days out, the market helps to support local artisan businesses, while giving buyers a little piece of the Lake District delivered directly to their door.  Buying local has so many benefits – not only are you helping to support livelihoods and local communities through these challenging times, but you often get more unique and personalised gifts.  Visit the market at and happy shopping!

    Forty Farms by Amy Bateman, November 2022

    British Life Photographer of the Year, Amy Bateman, has just released her new book, Forty Farms: Conversations about change in the landscapes of Cumbria.  The book offers a unique insight into the everyday lives, fears and hopes of 40 extraordinary farmers and reflects the enormous diversity in farming across Cumbria.  From the Herdwick-grazed Lake District commons to the big-sky Solway marshes; from isolated farmsteads unchanged in generations to businesses at the cutting-edge of innovation; from world-class sheep breeders to award-winning cheese-makers, Forty Farms is a visual record of farming at a period of profound change.

    The Lakes with Simon Reeve, October 2022

    Back on BBC2 this month is Simon Reeve's popular series about the Lake District National Park and the county of Cumbria, looking at the changes that are sweeping through the ancient landscape.  It was filmed in the summer of 2020, when British holidaymakers were pouring back into the Lake District as lockdown restrictions eased.  Reeve delves behind the popular tourist destinations to explore the tensions between the land, the people who live on it and the people who visit it.

    Wings Over Windermere, September 2022

    On 25 November 1911, at Windermere, Waterbird became the first aeroplane to successfully take off from and alight on water in the UK.  After years of painstaking work, The Lakes Flying Company has successfully created an exact replica of the UK's first seaplane, albeit with a modern engine.  The new Waterbird will take to the air for two public demonstration flights on 22nd and 23rd September.  In recognition of the heritage connections with Windermere, special permission has been granted for these flights to take place, 111 years after Waterbird flew for the first time, and 28 years since any seaplane has flown at Windermere.  During each sequence, Waterbird will take off from the water, fly at up to 100 feet in a straight line along the lake and then land on the water, demonstrating the incredible capabilities of this early aeroplane and giving spectators a chance to step back in history to the earliest days of aviation.

    Matisse at Rheged, August 2022

    Rheged is a gallery, café, cinema, shopping venue, workplace and creative space on the edge of the Northern Lakes near Penrith.

    It has curated and is currently exhibiting its first Paper Art Exhibition. This includes Matisse: Drawing with Scissors, his late works 1950-1954, a Hayward Gallery Touring Exhibition, which features 35 lithographic prints of the famous cut-outs produced by Henri Matisse in the last four years of his life. Alongside this, visitors can see 200 artworks by leading British Paper Artists including animation, origami, fashion, collage, 3-D sculpture and paper cuts, many of which are for sale.

    The commission for the centrepiece of the exhibition was won by Amy Williams, a visual artist living in Kendal.  Her idea was to explore Cumbria’s identity and heritage through a series of paper wigs and headwear, with each one reflecting an industry for which the region is well-known.

    60th Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy, July 2022

    Ullswater Yacht Club will be celebrating the 60th Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy this month.  Lord Norman Birkett is fondly referred to as the 'Saviour of Ullswater' after making a successful speech in the House of Lords which prevented Ullswater from becoming a reservoir.  230 boats are expected to enter the seven mile race down the lake, with the dramatic mass start stretching across the full width of the lake.  It is rated as one of the top sailing regattas in the world by Yachts & Yachting magazine and provides an amazing spectacle for anyone watching.

    Hadrian Wall Jubilee Beacon, June 2022

    This year celebrates 1,900 years since the building of Hadrian's Wall.  Much of the 73 mile fortification passes through Cumbria, ending at Bowness-on-Solway in the West.  To celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee on 2 June, beacons will be lit across the full span of the Wall, forming the longest chain of beacons in the UK.  Special dispensation was given for them to be lit 15 minutes later than the rest of the country, in recognition of the scale and importance of the anniversary of the Wall.

    A Lake District Farm Shop, May 2022

    Series 2 of this popular documentary is back on Channel 4, following the farm shop at Tebay Services in the run up to their 50th birthday celebrations.  The family-owned service station close to J38 of the M6, is well worth a stop off whether you are looking for a delicious home-cooked meal or browsing the farmshop that sells craft produce from more than 70 farmers, growers and makers within a 30 miles radius.

    100th Marathon Milestone, April 2022

    This month, local fundraising hero Gary Mckee will complete his 100th marathon of the year.  Gary has set himself the challenge of running a marathon every day for the whole year and hopes to raise a staggering £1million for two charities close to his heart, Hospice at Home West Cumbria and Macmillan Cancer Support.
    You can follow his journey on the ‘365 Marathon Man’ Facebook page and show your support by visiting his JustGiving page

    L'Enclume, March 2022

    Simon Rogan's L’Enclume, in the South Lakes village of Cartmel, has become the first restaurant in the north of England to win three Michelin stars, nine years after being awarded its second and 20 years after it opened. The Michelin Guide cites it as being a restaurant that is at the top of its game and somewhere that could rightfully take its place among the best in the world. The restaurant is immersed in the Lake District and follows a very strong sustainability ethos. Fruits, vegetables and herbs, as well as chickens, ducks, pigs and cattle all come from Simon’s 12-acre farm just a few miles away and it is this reliable source of top quality, seasonal ingredients that drives its menu.

    Grizedale Forest Earth Photo Exhibition, February 2022

    In addition to its permanent sculpture collection, this spring Grizedale Forest plays host to a stunning selection of the shortlisted images from Earth Photo 2021.  The international photography project developed jointly by Forestry England and the Royal Geographical Society, with categories including People, Place, Nature, Changing Forests and A Climate of Change, aims to stimulate conversations about the world, its inhabitants and our treatment of both.

    Patterdale Mountain Rescue Boat Appeal, January 2022

    An appeal has been launched to replace the current boat used by Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team for rescuing people in difficulties on Ullswater.  It is primarily used for rapidly transporting people and equipment to emergencies on the remote eastern side of Ullswater.  However, there have also been a significant increase in call-outs for incidents on the lake, largely due to the growing popularity of sports such as wild swimming, paddle-boarding and canoeing.  The vessel has also proved invaluable during floods, especially in the aftermath of Storm Desmond. 

    Lake Nights has pledged to donate 10% of income from all stays at Hawkhow Estate during January to the appeal.

    Dorothy Wordsworth's 250th Anniversary, December 2021

    Christmas Day 2021 marks the 250th birthday of Dorothy Wordsworth.  Although best known as the sister of poet William Wordsworth, Dorothy was a writer, friend, pioneering walker, local philanthropist, inspiring gardener and author of the Grasmere journal.  William often used this journal as inspiration for his poems, most notably 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud' (better known to many as 'Daffodils') based on Dorothy's entry of a walk they took together around Ullswater when they came upon a large swathe of daffodils at Glencoyne Bay.  Wordsworth Grasmere is celebrating Dorothy's legacy with an exhibition dedicated to her story told in her own words from her original manuscripts.

    Windermere Jetty Museum, November 2021

    One of just six buildings nominated, Windermere Jetty Museum was runner-up in the 2021 RIBA Stirling Prize.  The jury concluded that the museum should be celebrated for having a "restrained and simple beauty that is boldly confident in its design and delivery."  It is the first contemporary building on the lakeshore for over 50 years, formed of a cluster of buildings that frame and connect views to boats, to water and the landscape, with large, cantilevered canopies providing shelter for visitors and boats alike.

    Open daily, the museum is a vibrant, family-friendly destination dedicated to the boats, people and rich history of Windermere, England’s largest natural lake.  200 years of boating history are brought to life through a fascinating collection of boats, equipment and curiosities.

    Theatre By The Lake, October 2021

    The stage is set for audiences to take their seats at this popular Lakes venue for the first time since the pandemic began.  

    The first on-stage season in nearly two years is being launched with a modern comedy, 'Home, I'm Darling', with performances throughout October. Ironically, this is set in the confines of one home and follows the 1950s-obsessed couple, Judy and Johnny, who appear to be living in perfect domestic bliss until things being to unravel and gender roles are put to the 21st Century test.  Are they living the perfect life or a perfect lie?

    The Old Stamp House, September 2021

    The Old Stamp House in Ambleside has been named the Best Fine Dining Restaurant in the World in Tripadvisor's 2021 Travellers' Choice Awards.

    The restaurant is housed in the former office of William Wordsworth and seats just 28 customers at a time.  It was launched in 2014 by brothers Ryan and Craig Blackburn, head chef and restaurant manager respectively.  It was awarded a Michelin star in 2019, has been named Cumbria Life Restaurant of the Year, and been awarded three AA rosettes.  The menu is inspired by Cumbrian heritage and its produce is sourced from local farmers, fishermen and other producers.

    The Further Adventures of Doctor Dolittle, August 2021

    On Thursday 12th August, Lowther Castle & Gardens are hosting this family friendly outdoor performance in aid of the Calvert Trust.  The Lake District charity welcomes guests with disabilities to its dedicated centre near Bassenthwaite where they can enjoy the benefits of outdoor activities in a safe and accessible, yet challenging environment.

    The play is packed with larger-than-life characters and laughs galore – perfect summer fun for all the family. The event includes a brief charity auction with exciting ‘Lots’ to bid on and tickets include free afternoon entry to Lowther Castle & Adventure Playground.

      Supernova, July 2021

      The Lake District provides the stunning backdrop for this film starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci as a middle-aged couple coming to terms with a diagnosis of early-onset dementia.  After receiving the heart-breaking news, the couple set off on a driving holiday to visit family, friends and places from their past, taking in the beauty of the Lake District from their old campervan.  

      Supernova is showing on various dates in July at local cinemas including Zeffirelli's Ambleside, Rheged Centre and Alhambra Penrith.

      Marmalade Awards, June 2021

      At just nine years old, Flora Rider became the youngest ever winner of the Best-in-Show Award for her Seville Orange and Orange Blossom Marmalade in the 2021 Homemade Marmalade Awards. She beat entries from over 30 countries around the world with what she describes as her 'little pot of sunshine'.

      The Awards are judged at Dalemain Mansion, a beautiful stately mansion with historic gardens at the northern end of Ullswater.  Flora's winning marmalade can be purchased from Dalemain's Teamrooms, with 50p from the proceeds of each jar being donated to Hospice at Home.