William Wordsworth, whose work I have to say I find almost unbearably twee. He was a snob of the highest order. He moaned and droned on at great length about the perils of the Kendal and Windermere railway being extended to his beloved Grasmere, fretting about the tens of thousands of ‘unwashed Lancastrians’ flooding in. Grasmere was his turf. His personal fiefdom. What a prig.
Alfred Wainwright, author and illustrator of the Lakeland guides still popular today, wasn’t a big fan of hoi polloi. He got really annoyed about saying ‘Hello’ to fellow walkers. Alfred, don’t like other people on your turf? Don’t make money out of telling them how to get there, eh? That might be sensible, might it not?
Even Beatrix Potter, doyenne of the middle classes, was a Lakeland snob, yet she was born in Kensington. She got the hump in WWll about seaplanes being tested on Windermere. Those who ‘want noise can go to Blackpool.’ That’s a first world problem right there.
Lot’s of squabbles going on up in the lakes just now. Huge fracas about allowing four-wheel drives to scout about on existing tracks. ‘Destroying the natural landscape.’ Now I agree they’re noisy, they scare wildlife, and sheep, and are generally a pain in the ain. But natural landcscape? What, farmtracks are natural, are they? Look at some photos of the Lake District terrain. All those drystone walls are natural, are they? Left behind at the end of the last Ice Age? The fields and paddocks they delineate? They’re natural too? No, I don’t want the Lakes awash with hoolies in FWDs, I hate the idea, but let’s be a bit rational here, shall we? There is precious little natural landscape.
The latest spat is about Grasmere. I’ll declare an interest here. I completely agree with the idea that Grasmere does not need ten floating gin palaces on its waters. It’s quite tiny, set in an astonishingly beautiful valley. If you want a boat to rent and spend a few nights on, go to Windermere. The waters there are abuzz with motorboats. Coniston Water, you’ll be fine there. Both are big stretches of water you can cram a load of shipping in.
But leave Grasmere alone, will you please?