Thursday, 2 March 2017

National (dis)Trust

I’ve lived in Arnside for nearly seventeen years. When I moved here I had Barney, the old Springer Spaniel family pet whose acquisition thirteen years earlier I had resisted, “oh! We’ll look after him Dad, we’ll take him for walks and feed him…” and so on.

Of course I ended up with Barney after they had both flown the nest, and my wife had succumbed to Motor Nerone. But Barney was a great comfort and a good friend.

We walked or ran round Arnside Knott and its multitudinous variation of footpaths most days and I became familiar with every tree root on every path, and later when I had re-met Pete after more than thirty years we often walked there together. Most of the area is in the “custody” of the National Trust. They have persistently chopped down trees, including Yew trees hundreds of years old, supposedly trying to create a habitat for some rare butterfly which likely wont succeed, whilst habitats for hundreds of other species are destroyed, and we retain fewer trees to help the fight against global warming.

At the foot of the steep limestone scree on the south-east slopes there is a spring. It is only feeble, but water seeps out into a shallow bowl of limestone about two feet in diameter, and worn satisfyingly smooth by aeons of water flow, and it is always twinkling, even in high summer. This feature of nature has always given me a disproportionately uplifting feeling that is difficult to explain; it is one of my little secret pleasures. After the first visit with Barney he never forgot and always stopped for a drink. Later, after Barney had gone I ended up with Jill’s Springer, Jake, and he did the same.

I have not walked round there so often recently, and it must be a few months ago when I last visited. Yesterday I trudged round again soaking up some nostalgia as well as the rain. In mild and pleasant anticipation I was looking forward to saying hello again to my little spring. When I arrived I was gutted. The interfering National Trust have elected to splotch in place a jarring, so obviously man-made, out of place cement wall round the perimeter to act as a mini dam and increase the size of the puddle, the bottom of which is now a jumble of stones instead of the seductive smoothed limestone dish, and this for no reason I can think of. What is it with these people?


The spring in context today

As it was.The arrow shows the steep slope behind levelling out onto the water.
 It was low, and maybe a year ago when I took this photo



The mini dam.
 The concrete/cement is not so obvious in the photo but seen in situ is is like squeaky chalk on a blackboard, and no sign of the original smooth limestone bed


10 comments:

Roderick Robinson said...

Why not ask them?

Sir Hugh said...

RR - I have done so. Will follow up here with whatever reply I get.

Andrew Mallinson said...

Good day to you Sir Hugh. I have received a recomendation from Dave who has the blog "The Oss Road" to add your blog to my blogroll, and I would like to report it duly done. If you would like to have a peruse of my blog it is at www.awalkonthemildside.co.uk as ever, I am always pleased if a return link appears, but of course, only if you feel my site worthy. TTFN, Andy

Dave said...

I'm an NT member and I find them a bit like the BBC: they do some very good things and others which are just bewildering, sometimes infuriating. The NT are excellent custodians of places like - just as a few examples - the Long Mynd, Clent Hills and The Hermitage, near Dunkeld (NTS Scotland). What prompted them to mess with a natural spring and turn it into an eyesore is frankly a mystery.

I'm not wild about any part of my membership fee being used to help failed aristocrats perpetuate a lifestyle they could otherwise no longer sustain, but that's probably just my inner curmudgeon surfacing.

Dave

Sir Hugh said...

Dave - I agree with your summing up of the NT and also the BBC. The latter do redeem themselves with productions now and then that are worth the whole of the licence fee alone in one go (not that I now pay.) The latest example was the documentary on David Hockney, and now I am digressing. In another recent post I bellyached about background music in documentaries, and it was well prominent in the Hockney, but it was so well done as to be pleasurable and enhancing - I reckon that takes a lot of skill.

Ruth Livingstone said...

What a shame about the 'improved' spring. I have a love-hate relationship with the National Trust. On the one hand, I am extremely grateful they now own large sections of the coastline and protect it from development. On the other hand, I resent coming across estates whose grounds you can't walk through, and the way they allow grazing livestock priority at the expense of the natural landscape. I much prefer the way The Woodland Trust manage land, because we definitely need less overgrazed moors and more trees.

Sir Hugh said...

Andrew M - Welcome to the blog. All new commenters are welcome, barring profanity. Long may you continue to read and comment. I have been to your blog and left a comment there.

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Ruth - most people I meet, along with comments here seem to have similar mixed feelings about the NT. On the SW coast path last year they had put up a notice declining to trim a footpath which was overgrown for about a mile in the interests of fireflies - there were huge areas of undergrowths for those little beasts stretching on both sides of the path - by the way, I have nothing against fireflies, I've never seen them.

AlanR said...

The nice smooth stone is probably adjacent to someone's garden pond as a water feature. It was far too slippery and had to be removed for health and safety reasons.

gimmer said...

I'm sure AR is right: I can think of myriad H&S reasons why the natural pond had to go: first of which is, of course, that it encourages people to take selfies (whatever they are) of themselves and/or pets enraptured beyond reason by the unspoilt beauty and sparking joy of the trickling stream and either falling in and drowning or falling down and scratching their skins (not shins, be gad) - and then the outright mortal danger of being blinded by the rising sun reflected in the SE facing pool and tripping or slipping over the pebbles and hurtling down the fatal scree to then be impaled on the stake that once bore an NT warning notice but which was torn down by irresponsible nature lovers outraged by their nannying - I could go on - I think they have done all humanity a sterling service by emasculating this not-so-innocent rill and putting such temptations beyond the intoxicated reach of the reckless citizenry of Arnside and Silverdale.
May their bravery spread to guide rails and fixed ropes up the perilous slopes of Harrison and its pitiless Stickle !

Sir Hugh said...

Alan R and gimmer - apologies for delay in reply - Ive been off to Grizedale with granddaughter and today another section of Cumbria Way - posts to follow. Thank you both for imaginative comments - that;s what keeps blogging going. I have emailed the NT, but no response yet.