By.9 Months Of.Age Babies.Can Do All The.Following Except Famous Cumbrians

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Famous Cumbrians

Cumbria has its fair share of famous people, but I never realized how many. My friends had come and stayed in a few self catering cottages in the Lake District and we discussed who we thought was the most famous. I’ll have to let you decide.

1. Joss Naylor MBE (1936-)
Known as the ‘King of the Fells’, Joss Naylor has been a champion fell runner for almost fifty years. However, Naylor, a sheep farmer from Nether Wasdale, was deemed unfit for National Service as a teenager and overcame a series of injuries that would have made most of us live life cautiously. At the age of 30, Naylor completed 72 peaks in the Lake District, over a distance of 100 miles, with a total ascent of 37,000 feet in less than 24 hours. In 1986, he completed all 214 Wainwrights in one week. At age 60, he ran 60 Lakeland Falls in 36 hours. At age 70, he completed 70 Lakeland falls; 50 miles and 25,000 feet of ascent in less than 21 hours.

Fans hit their stride in the Joss Naylor Challenge – 30 Lake District peaks from Pooley Bridge in Ullswater to Joss’ home in Wasdale.

2. Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943)
Beatrix Potter was in many ways the last of Cumbria, and yet she was born in London. Unmarried until the age of 40, Beatrix initially struggled to make an independent living. He eventually self-published 250 copies of ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ in 1901; the publisher, Frederick Warne, noticed them, and by the end of the following year they had printed no fewer than 28,000 copies. Beatrix wrote another 22 books and used the proceeds to buy Hill Top Farm, near Hawkshead.

His legacy to the Lake District is his interest in conservation and traditional farming; she was a breeder of native sheep from the Herdwick Lakes and bought many acres of farmland. On his death in 1943, he bequeathed 4,000 acres of land to the National Trust, including Penny Hill Farm Cottage in Eskdale. The 2006 film Miss Potter covers the early years of Beatrix’s life; Low Millgillhead Cottage at Lamplugh near Loweswater was one of the uncredited sets!

3. Saint Patrick (5th c)
Better known as the patron saint of Ireland, most sources agree that St. Patrick was born in Cumbria sometime in the 5th century. Opinions are divided as to whether he was raised in the Roman fort of Birdoswald in the northeast of the county , or in the West Cumbrian coastal village of Ravenglass, site of another Roman fort. Patrick, who had been kidnapped into slavery in Ireland at the age of sixteen, escaped from his servitude, landed on Duddon Sands and walked to Patterdale – ‘St. Patrick’s Dale’ near Ullswater. He traveled through Aspatria, “Patrick’s ashes”, where the locals took so long to convert that his stick of ashes became a tree! There is also a St Patrick’s Well near Glenridding where the saint baptized the people of the Ullswater area.

4. Helen Skelton (1983-)
That’s right, the Blue Peter Action Woman is totally Cumbrian! Born in the Eden Valley village of Kirkby Thore, between Appleby and Penrith, Helen began her broadcasting career on local radio and Border Television before becoming a reporter for the BBC’s children’s news programme, ‘ Newsround’. She became the presenter of ‘Blue Peter’ in 2008. Since then, Helen has completed the Namibia Ultra Marathon – only the second woman to do so – and kayaked the length of the Amazon , earning his two mentions in the Guinness Book of Records. . Closer to home, Helen competed in the annual Muncaster Castle Festival of Fools in 2009. Muncaster’s famous 17th century jester, the original ‘Tom Fool’ was actually Thomas Skelton. Maybe they are related?

5. Fletcher Christian (1764 – 1793)
It’s probably safe to say you’re famous if Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Marlon Brando, and Mel Gibson have played you in blockbuster movies. Fletcher Christian was born in Brigham, near Cockermouth, where he went to school with the poet William Wordsworth. Christian had traveled to India and twice with Captain Bligh to Jamaica before embarking on the ill-fated voyage to Tahiti in April 1789. Later that year, 1,300 miles west of Tahiti, Christian led the mutiny on the Bounty.

Having married a Tahitian princess, Christian, eight mutineers, six Tahitian men and eleven Tahitian women landed on Pitcairn Island. In 1808 only one mutineer remained alive. What happened to Christian? One said he was shot; another said he died of natural causes, committed suicide, or was murdered. However, rumors persist that he escaped, returned to the Lake District and inspired Coleridge’s ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Who knows?

6. Norman Nicholson OBE (1914 – 1987)
Where the River Duddon meets the sea, beneath the towering shape of Black Combe, lies the former mining town of Millom and the lifelong home of poet Norman Nicholson. Nicholson’s connection with Cumbria defined both his reputation and his work, with many of his poems paying tribute to the town, the Duddon Valley and local landmarks such as Scafell Pike, Whitehaven, Patterdale, stone circles and the western coast. His words vividly contrast the reality of the declining mining town and the timeless grandeur of the Lake District’s natural surroundings.

‘There is the base and the root of the living rock
Thirty thousand feet of solid Cumberland. (On the River Duddon)

7. Stan Laurel (1890 – 1965)
Arthur Stanley Jefferson, better known as Stan Laurel, the skinny half of Laurel and Hardy, was born in Ulverston, where the west Cumbrian coast meets Morecambe Bay. Laurel spent much of her life in the United States, meeting Oliver Hardy in 1927 before talkies had taken over the world of cinema. Laurel made 190 films in total, including ‘Duck Soup’, ‘Pardon Us’ and ‘Saps at Sea’. After the sudden death of Oliver Hardy in 1957, Laurel did not act again, although she continued to write. A statue of Stan Laurel was unveiled in Ulverston in April 2009.

8. Leo Houlding (1981 – )
Leo Houlding attracts many labels. Rock climber, extreme adventurer, mountaineer, base jumper, snowboarder, surfer and skydiver. Raised in the Eden Valley village of Bolton, Houlding is now based in the Lake District but travels the world climbing. He can still be seen at Lakes events such as the Keswick Mountain Festival, encouraging young people to try what he loves!

Houlding was the first Briton to free climb El Capitan in 1998, aged 17. In 2007, he accompanied Conrad Anker on the Altitude Everest Expedition, which retraced the steps of George Mallory; this was the first recorded ascent of the northeast ridge of Everest. Houlding is often seen on TV these days: ‘My Right Foot’, ‘Top Gear’ and the BBC’s ‘Adrenaline Junkie’ with Jack Osbourne.

9. Catherine Parr (1512 – 1548)
Queen of England between 1543 and 1547, Catherine Parr was the last of Henry VIII’s six wives. Catherine was born in Kendal Castle, just south of the Lakes, and was a fine example of the determined, open-minded, fair-minded women of Cumbria. She had been widowed twice before coming to the king’s attention in 1543 and was forced to marry him despite her relationship with Sir Thomas Seymour, brother of the nine days’ queen, Jane Seymour. For three months in 1544, Catherine was appointed regent while Henry VIII was away in France, and carried out all the responsibilities of the king.

In 1547, Henry died, and Catherine was free to marry Seymour; his stepdaughter, the future Elizabeth I, came to live with them. Unfortunately, the relationship was strained by Seymour’s attraction to the young princess, and a pregnant Catherine was forced to send Elizabeth away. Catherine died five days after giving birth to her only daughter in 1548. And the scheming Seymour? Beheaded for treason a year later.

10. William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)
William Wordsworth was promoting Cumbria long before the Lake District holiday was invented! A leading figure in the Romantic movement, Wordsworth wrote poetry inspired by strong emotion, but “calmly remembered.” Born in Cockermouth and educated in Penrith and Hawkshead, Wordsworth returned to the Lake District in 1799 to live at Dove Cottage in Grasmere.

Perhaps his most famous words, written about a fountain in Ullswater, are:
“I wandered alone like a cloud
that floats in high valleys and hills,
When suddenly I saw a crowd,
A bunch of golden daffodils…’
Wordsworth also loved the Duddon Valley:
“… The stream still slides, and will slide forever…”
He even mentioned some Lake District trees, known to be ancient even then:
‘There is a yew tree, pride of Lorton Vale
That to this day she is single…’
‘…But even more noteworthy
They are the four Borrowdale brothers.

In 1813, the Wordsworths moved to Rydal Mount (also open to the public) in Ambleside. William was named Poet Laureate in 1843. He died in 1850, and in St. Oswald’s, Grasmere.

There are plenty of cottages in the Lake District worth visiting so you can follow some of those famous Cumbrian steps. Just follow the link in the resource box.

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