The English Lake District National Park gets UNESCO World Heritage Site Status

Will the benefits of Unesco World Heritage Site status outweigh the problems of greater bureaucracy and tighter regulation for local Cumbrian people, given the rules already in place from the National Park Authority?

Copyright photo: Eddie Wren

One must hope that the benefits for Lake District folk from this change of status will be significant.  Presumably they will at least bring much  greater global publicity and awareness, and therefore growth in the tourist economy but how much stronger will regulations be regarding, say, farmers wanting to build an extra house for their growing family?  And what about more affordable housing schemes for locals who want to stay local rather than being priced out of their own valleys by rich city people who will pay high prices for weekend or holiday cottages?  Unique culture has already been critically damaged by the latter.

Here is the news article from the BBC.

The Winter Mountaineering in Chapter 22 of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’

A winter walk in the Lakeland Fells

. Looking west across Haweswater before the start of the walk, to Riggindale Crags on the north side of Long Stile and Caspel Gate (the descent route).  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Some of the nicest compliments I have received for my first book in the Cumbria Police Novels series have been for the description of a circular, mid-winter fell walk, starting and finishing at the south end of Haweswater.

2. Small Water (tarn), part way up Nan Bield pass. The path here crosses the outflowing beck (stream) and works its way around the far side. This tarn can be seen again, from the top of the pass, in photograph number 4.  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Richard Wallace, retired senior lecturer in classics at Keele University, in a review of My Cup Runneth Over, kindly wrote: “…One of the most attractive features of the novel is the lively and evocative scenes of Cumbria, its people, and its landscape. I particularly enjoyed a marvellous description of a winter walk over High Street. You could feel the crunch of the snow under your boots, the cold wind on your face, and the exhilaration of getting to the top and just looking at the views. I wanted to be there!…”  (See more readers’ opinions)

3. Ill Bell (a different fell to Mardale Ill Bell) and Froswick (the more pointed summit), above Kentmere Reservoir, from Nan Bield pass.  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

The route, that day, went from Haweswater up past Small Water (photo 2) to the top of Nan Bield Pass.  After a look over ‘the other side’, down into Kentmere (photo 3) and shortly afterwards getting an exciting shock-of-our lives from the jet, we continued up towards the top (photo 4) of the beautifully-named Mardale Ill Bell.

4. Looking down Nan Bield pass from the flanks of Mardale Bell. Part way down the fell is Small Water – mostly frozen over – then down in the valley is Haweswater. In the far distance are the Pennines. Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

The photograph (number 4) of the snow, beautifully sculpted into drifts against a dry stone wall, of which only the top ‘cam’ stones are visible, was taken on Racecourse Hill (read Chapter 22 for an accurate description of how a mountain got such a name!), and I believe I was standing on the top of the trig’ point (i.e. a mapmakers’ triangulation pillar) to get the necessary high viewpoint.

5. Snow drifts sculpted by wind and ice along the west side of a dry stone wall on Racecourse Hill and High Street – a former Roman Road. The fell tops at the far left are, L-to-R, Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick. In the central far background are gleams off the water of Windermere and then the distant Morecambe Bay (Irish Sea).  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Coming back down via Long Stile and Caspel Gate was interesting due to the fact that in places the snow had frozen extremely hard and in places there were large areas of sheet ice.  Attempting it without crampons could potentially have proved lethal (photo 5).

6. Eddie Wren — whose author’s pen-name is Steve Shearwater — descending Long Stile.       Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Steve Shearwater

Buy a paperback or online version of the novel ‘ My Cup Runneth Over’

Article and images copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

The Drovers’ Inn at Linthwaite

In reality, this is the Horse & Farrier (1677), in my home village of Threlkeld in the Lake District National Park, but in ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ and the other Cumbria Police Novels to follow, the Drovers’ Inn at Linthwaite is based upon it.

The Horse and Farrier Inn at Threlkeld, which for the purposes of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ and the rest of the ‘Cumbria Police Novels’ series become the Drovers’ Inn and Linthwaite, respectively.

The Salutation Inn — now sadly just known as ‘The Sally’ — which in the books is the Birch Hill Arms, is in the background on the right (with a red sign on the wall).

I took this photograph during the mid-1990s, despite the copyright date shown on the image.  This was after the Farrier had been modernized as a pub but before the interior had been radically altered to create an admittedly great ‘restaurant with a bar’.

Help with UK police jargon & Cumbrian dialect words, for overseas readers

It was obvious from the outset that I couldn’t write an accurate police story without using the appropriate ‘period jargon’ and that similarly my novel couldn’t capture the fabulous aura and personality of the Cumbrian people without including dialect speech.  But if these aspects might put off some readers from outside Britain, don’t worry; help is literally at hand!

“Blues & Twos” – driving at speed, using the flashing blue lights and two-tone sirens (now multi-tone, but the nickname persists)

Simply have your laptop, tablet or smartphone handy when you are reading and if you find any confusing words or phrases click on the tabs at the top of each page of the website, for either — unsurprisingly — ‘Police Jargon’ or ‘Dialect’, and your confusion will disappear!  (And if it doesn’t, please tell me and I’ll fire the person who wrote this!!! 🙂 )

Steve Shearwater

Purchase the Cumbria Police Novel ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ here

The Facebook page ‘Cumbria Police Novels’ (which is the ‘tag line’ at the top of each page and blog post on this website) now has both the paperback and Kindle versions of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ on sale through Amazon UK. British readers click here.

Readers in the USA, Canada and other countries, click here.

 

 

 

A new dialect list for agricultural and farming words in Cumbria. Would you like to help?

As a young police officer who quite often had to deal with farmers in order to enforce such as the stock movement laws designed to minimise risks from livestock diseases such as foot and mouth (USA: ‘hoof and mouth’), I was frequently faced with solid dialect speech.  Having been born and raised in the Lake District, and having worked as a lad on several farms during school holidays, I wasn’t troubled by the dialect — indeed, I loved it — but sadly this delightful aspect of our Cumbrian culture has been fading for decades.  This has given me a determination to preserve at least some bits of it in my writing.

A lot of my long-term and new-found friends in various Cumbrian groups within Facebook have contributed a lot to the now-growing list of general dialect words on the steveshearwater.co.uk website and it has been so successful that I’m now asking for everyone’s help with a list of specifically farming-related dialect words, which I think may be unique once it’s created in sufficient depth.

Many agricultural words undoubtedly are found across larger areas than just our county of Cumbria so their inclusion in the imminent list may be short-term until we establish for certain whether they are unique to the dialect or not.  Also included will be dialect/regional words for features found in the ‘statesman farmer’ type of houses that were built here in the 18th Century and for other types of farm buildings.

If you want to participate and suggest some agricultural dialect words please reply to this message on Facebook or submit your answers on a ‘Reply’ within this message on the steveshearwater.co.uk  website.

Finally, on the shearwater website there is now the facility for readers to ‘like’ individual pages and posts so I would be very grateful if you would click the ‘Like’ buttons at the bottom of any pages you approve of.  (There are also buttons allowing you to ‘share’ those pages straight to Facebook, Twitter or Google+, so please feel free to use those, too, if you wish.

One last thing, if you want to help with the creation of this presumably unique list, you will have to do well to beat the West Cumbrians because they submitted far, far more suggestions than everyone else combined, for the general list.  Come on, everyone else in Cumbria…. or will you let them win hands down, once again? !!! 😀

Book review of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ by the ‘Cumbria’ magazine – Part I

This month (February 2017) Cumbria magazine has published a much-shortened chapter from my novel – ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ – and next month they are kindly adding a review of the whole book.

Clearly, a book about being a young police officer stationed at a town in the stunningly beautiful Lake District National Park in the north-west corner of England has interest for British folks who know the Lake District but it has also been written to appeal to people from other countries, too – particularly those of you from the USA, where I have lived for over ten years.

Is this another example of the so-called, cultural ‘British Invasion’ in the USA?  I’d like to think so but as this is my first novel it would be silly of me to actually believe that.  I have, however, had the delightful good fortune to have had the style and humour of my novel repeatedly compared to the wonderful books by the famous veterinary surgeon James Herriot.

Remembering as well that even today the vast majority of British police officers do not carry lethal weapons, the novel offers a great insight into how such unarmed officers can operate in general safety and it also gives a great insight into rural life in England’s  second-largest and most scenic county – home of the famed ‘Lakes Poets’ such as William Wordsworth.

Dialect and police jargon are included in the writing but they are carefully explained in glossaries on the website – see the link below – so nobody need struggle to understand these fascinating cultural aspects. (The Lakeland dialect, for example, is strongly based upon Old Norse, from Viking times.)

And then, of course, there’s the crime aspect!  Naturally, none of the crimes or criminals in the book are actual events or real people, but each has been developed from my own lengthy experience in the police and the events are therefore very true-to-life and accurate in terms of police procedure back in the 1970s where the story is set.

Read here how readers from around the world have responded so wonderfully to My Cup Runneth Over.

Purchase the book (including USA) here.

Just How Beautiful is the Lake District National Park? Bill Bryson’s Opinion!

Those of you who love American author Bill Bryson‘s hilarious travel books may know of his latest edition.

Bill Bryson’s latest book about Britain (2015)

His first book about Britain, Notes from a Small Island, was hilarious and immensely popular, and The Road to Little Dribbling is an excellent and equally funny successor.

In it, he writes: “The Lake District, when it is fine, and it usually is at least that, is about as beautiful as Earth can get…”

What more needs to be said?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some historical ‘back story’ about the novel My Cup Runneth Over, regarding ‘Snabside’ and the Hodgson family

Not many readers have yet commented on where they think the various placenames in my novel actually represent but here is one for you:  ‘Snabside’ is loosely Newlands.  (Please be aware, however, that none of the places in the novel are meant to be exact replicas of the real locations that inspired them.)  And the key family in Snabside, in relation to the novel, are the Hodgsons – in particular Elizabeth whose beauty and personality more than grab Constable Shearwater’s attention.

Looking northwards, down Newlands, to the distant Blencathra

So how did these names come about?  My own, ‘selfish’ historical reasons are involved!

Back in the 1960s, 70s and 80s I had two extremely good friends in the shape of Norman and Kathleen Gandy, curators of the Fitz Park Museum at Keswick, and a similar age to my own parents.  One of the many historical fascinations they introduced me to was ten years’ worth of a remarkably large newspaper by the wonderful title of The English Lakes Visitor & Keswick Guardian, and over a period I laboriously hand-copied many, many items of local news from those pages.  (The bright light of photocopiers and scanners damages old print and this was also well before the era of digital cameras.)

One such article delighted me because of it’s Lakeland Dialect content, although at that time I knew of no personal link with the people involved.  The story was published on page 4 of the 1st July 1882 edition, under the title of ‘ACCIDENT at Newlands’.

William Hodgson was returning from Keswick market in his horse and cart but was thrown to the ground when lightning made the horse rear and bolt.  The cart ran over William’s leg, breaking it below the knee.  His daughter found the empty cart and then found her injured father.  She ran for help to nearby Keskadale from where a Mr Wilson came to assist.  A dialect conversation between the men reportedly went as follows:

Hodgson: “I’se deun for.”

Wilson:    “[Thoo’s] nin deid yit!”

Hodgson: “Ah’ll dee an’ Ah’ll nut be lang nowther if thoo’ll keep off me!”

It was some years later that I put two and two together that Martha Elizabeth, the daughter of William Hodgson of Aikin had coincidentally married Joseph Wren (of a Seatoller family) and through subsequent events became my great grandmother.  And William, who did not die of his broken leg, despite his fears, was therefore my great great grandfather.  So there you have the two real people who gave rise to three people’s names that I used in ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ for William, Martha (the mother) and their beautiful daughter Elizabeth Hodgson, of ‘Snabside’.

 

The 'modern' house at Aikin - a barn conversion

All that's left of William Hodgson's original house

In the modern house, some coat hooks, salvaged from 
the rubble of the old house

Eddie Wren (a.k.a. ‘Steve Shearwater’)  January 2017

Article and photograph copyright. All rights reserved.

News & Star article about my second novel – ‘The Valley of the Shadow’

I was absolutely astonished when the News & Star ran a whole centre-page spread article about my Steve Shearwater novel ‘My Cup Runneth Over’, the latter of which was published on 11 November – my late mother’s birthday – and now I’m equally surprised and delighted that they have run a follow up article about the second book in the series, that I’m currently working on: ‘The Valley of the Shadow’.