Best Spring Break Destination With A 7 Year Old Girl Famous Cumbrians

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Famous Cumbrians

There are quite a few famous people in Cumbria, but I never realized how many. My friends had come and stayed in some self-catering cottages in the Lake District and we started talking about 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 fell champion for almost fifty years. And yet Naylor, a sheep farmer from Wasdale in the Netherlands, was deemed unfit for public service as a teenager and overcame a series of traumas that would have caused most of us to live cautiously. At age 30, Naylor scaled 72 Lake District peaks over 100 miles, totaling 37,000 feet of climbing in less than 24 hours. In 1986, he completed all 214 Wainwrights in a week. At age 60, he ran 60 Lakeland Falls in 36 hours. At age 70, he completed 70 Lakeland Hills; 50 miles and 25,000 feet of ascent in under 21 hours.

Fans are running in his footsteps in the Joss Naylor Challenge, the 30 summits of the Lake District from Pooley Bridge in Ullswater to Joss’s home in Wasdale.

2. Beatrix Potter (1866–1943)
Beatrix Potter was in many ways the ultimate Cambrian, yet she was born in London. Unmarried until the age of 40, Beatrix initially struggled to earn an independent living. Finally, in 1901, she self-published 250 copies of The Tale of Peter Rabbit; they were noticed by the publisher Frederick Warne, and by the end of the following year no less than 28,000 copies had been printed. Beatrix went on to write 22 more books and used the proceeds to buy Hill Top Farm near Hawkshead.

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

3. St. Patrick (5th year)
Best known as the patron saint of Ireland, most sources agree that Saint Patrick was born in Cumbria sometime in the fifth century. Opinion is divided as to whether he was raised in the Roman fort of Birdoswald, in the north-east of the county, or in the west Cumbrian coastal village of Ravenglass, the site of another Roman fort. Kidnapped into slavery in Ireland at the age of sixteen, Patrick escaped from slavery, landed at Duddon Sands and traveled 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 ash walking stick grew into a tree! Also near Glenridding is St. Patrick’s Well, where the saint baptized the people of the Ullswater area.

4. Helen Skelton (1983-)
That’s right, “Blue Peter’s action woman is quintessentially Cambrian! Helen was born in the Eden Valley village of Kirkby Thore, between Appleby and Penrith, and began her broadcasting career on local radio and Borders TV before becoming a reporter for the BBC’s children’s news programme, Newsround. In 2008, she became the leader of ‘Blue Peter’. Helen has since completed the Namibia Ultra Marathon – only the second woman to do so – and has kayaked the Amazon, gaining two mentions in the Guinness Book of World Records. Closer to home, Helen took part in the annual Mincaster Castle Fool’s Festival 2009 .. Mincaster’s famous seventeenth century jester, the original ‘Tom the 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 attended school with the poet William Wordsworth. Christian had gone to India and twice to Jamaica with Captain Bligh before they made the ill-fated voyage to Tahiti in April 1789. Later that year, 1,300 miles west of Tahiti, Christian led a mutiny on the Bounty.

Having married a Tahitian princess, Christian, eight mutineers, six Tahitian men and eleven Tahitian women ended up on Pitcairn Island. By 1808, only one rebel was alive. What happened to Christian? One said he was shot; another said variously that he died of natural causes, committed suicide, or was killed. However, it is still rumored that he escaped, returned to the Lake District and inspired Colledge’s The Age of the Ancient Mariner. Who knows?

6. Norman Nicholson OBE (1914-1987)
Where the River Dadon 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 homage to the town, the Dadon Valley and local landmarks such as Scafell Pike, Whitehaven, Patterdale, stone circles and the west coast. His words contrast starkly with the reality of a decaying mining town and the timeless majesty of the natural Lake District environment.

‘There stands the base and root of the living rock
Thirty thousand feet of solid Cumberland. (To Dadon River)

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 coast of Cumbria meets Morecambe Bay. Laurel spent much of her life in the US, meeting Oliver Hardy in 1927, before “conversations” had taken over the film world. Laurel made a total of 190 films, including Duck Soup, Pardon Us and Saps at Sea. After the sudden death of Oliver Hardy in 1957, Laurel ceased to work, although he continued to write. In April 2009, a statue of Stan Laurel was unveiled in Ulverston.

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

Houlding was the first Briton to free climb El Capitan in 1998 aged 17. In 2007 he accompanied Konrad Anker on the Everest expedition that retraced the steps of George Mallory; this was the first recorded ascent of Everest’s northeast ridge. Today, Houlding is often seen on TV, appearing on the BBC’s My Right Foot, Top Gear and Adrenaline Junkie with Jack Osborne.

9. Catherine Parr (1512–1548)
Queen of England from 1543 to 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 great example of the strong, outspoken and honest women of Cumbria. She had been twice widowed before she turned to the king in 1543 and had to marry him despite her relationship with Sir Thomas Seymour, the brother of Jane Seymour, Queen of Nine Days. For three months in 1544, Catherine was appointed regent while Henry VIII was in France and performed all royal duties.

In 1547 Henry died and Catherine was free to marry Seymour; they were joined by her stepdaughter, the future Elizabeth I. Unfortunately, Seymour’s attraction to the young princess soured the relationship, and a pregnant Catherine had to send Elizabeth away. Catherine died five days after the birth of her only daughter in 1548. And the wily Seymour? Beheaded for treason a year later.

10. William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
William Wordsworth was promoting Cumbria before the Lake District holiday was invented! A leading figure in the Romantic movement, Wordsworth wrote poetry inspired by strong emotions but “remembered in silence.” 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 the source of Ullswater are:
‘I wander as lonely as a cloud
That floats over high valleys and hills,
When I immediately saw the crowd,
Lots of golden daffodils…’
Wordsworth also liked the Dadon Valley:
‘…Still drifting down the stream and will drift forever…’
He even mentioned some Lake District trees known to be ancient:
“There is the yew, the pride of Lorton Vale
Who to this day stands alone…’
‘…But even more noteworthy
Or those fraternal four from Borrowdale.

In 1813 the Wordsworths moved to Rydal Mount (also publicly accessible) in Ambleside. William was appointed Poet Laureate in 1843. He died in 1850 and St. at Oswald, Grasmere.

There are many holiday cottages in the Lake District that are worth a visit so you can follow some of these famous Cumbrian tracks. Just follow the link in the resource box.

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