travel

1.    Turner’s Buttermere

Cumbria

Julia Bradbury climbs the gells above Buttermere for a picture perfect view

Description: The grandeur for the Lake District has inspired artists and poets for centuries.

The grandeur for the Lake District has inspired artists and poets for centuries.

The grandeur for the Lake District has inspired artists and poets for centuries. JMW Turner painted many watery landscapes there on his northern tour, Joseph Farington’s Vies of the Lakes was produced in direct response to the massive demands of tourism in the area in the 18th century, and Beatrix Potter, the creator of some of the most famous children’s character’s characters of all time, would write and draw inexhaustible at her Hill Top Farm near Ambleside. Lakeland Poets, William Wordsworth (Born in the Lake District) Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey nestled there for months at a time to poetically ripen.

The Lakes are truly captivating and many have fallen prey to their charms, but I don’t think there is a more emphatic admission of everlasting love and contentment than that of Alfred Wainwright . He may not have penned “I wandered lonely as a cloud” but from the moment he set foot in the Lake District as a young man from Blackburn aged 23 an 1930, he was smitten. “Many are they who have fallen under the spell of Lakeland, and so many are the who have been moved to tell of their affection, in story and verse and picture and song,” he said.

Heavenly Haystacks

Description: The fell of Haystacks in particular stole Wainwright’s heart

The fell of Haystacks in particular stole Wainwright’s heart

The fell of Haystacks in particular stole Wainwright’s heart. It stands at 580m (1.900ft) in the western area of the Lakes on the edge of Buttermere

“One can forget a raging toothache on Haystacks… For beauty, variety and interesting detail, for sheer fascination and individuality, the summit area Haystacks is supreme. This is fact the best fell top of all,” Mr Wainwright said of it. Don’t forget that he spent 13 years documenting his love of the area over the course of seven beautifully, painfully detailed guides, which stand alone as works of art – and yet, for him, Haystacks was ‘the one’.

One of many wonderful things about this fell are the views of Buttermere and Crummock Water it offers on the way to the summit. Turner captured these crystal waters in oils, and I can’t help wishing I’d brought a few paintbrushes and an easel to have a go myself.

The cost of fame

Description: Buttermere

Buttermere – its name meaning the lake by the dairy pastures – is the stuff of poetry, too.

Buttermere – its name meaning the lake by the dairy pastures – is the stuff of poetry, too. The Maid of Buttermere is mentioned in Wordsworth’s magnum opus The Prelude. She  was the beautiful daughter of an innkeeper who became famous through guidebooks. He described her as the “artless daughter of the kills who represented a woman shaped by nature, living without contamination. She unspoiled – a product of the natural environment, free from artificial influence.”

Sadly, because of this fame, Mary Robinson the Maid, fell four of a fraudster called John Hatfield purporting to be a well-to-do Colonel Hope. He fooled the community and married poor Mary, until he was exposed as a bigamist, forger and imposter and hanged in 1803. Mary went on to marry a local farmer and have four children. It is however a cautionary tale about the perils of celebrity – even back then.

Wainwright was not a celebrity, or truly recognized as an artist in his day. He always maintained that he began writing the guidebooks for his own memory of the places he had visited and loved.

Description: It is however a cautionary tale about the perils of celebrity – even back then.

It is however a cautionary tale about the perils of celebrity – even back then.

Wainwright’s maps are not strictly plan or elevation views. He deliberately distorted perspectives and scales in order to get in all the information he thought would be valuable for any walker. And his drawings are laden with detail – lovingly sketched over his many ascents of every fell. Just in case there’s any doubt about Haystacks being his all time favourite fell, Wainwright paid it the ultimate compliment in his absence – he had his ashes scattered on the summit, near the superbly named Innominate Tarn.

I climbed Haystacks several years ago and found the tranquil pool of water where Wainwright’s ashes are scattered, and I read from Book 7 The Western Fells: “And if you, dear reader, should get a bit of grit in your boots as you are crossing Haystacks in years to come, please treat it with respect. It might be me.” If that isn’t art that lives on, what is?

Description:  Haystacks

Haystacks

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