Saturday, 19 October 2013

First entry for lonnings exhibition

I AM grateful to Egremont historian and poet E Alan Read for contributing the first 'exhibit' for the lonnings exhibition planned for Florence Mine next year. It's a poem based on Lovers' Lonning which can be found in St Bees..

Lovers Lonning, St Bees

Lovers' Lonning

It was in Lovers' Lonning,
A place of tranquillity, peace and calm,
Where the pathway is so narrow,
Only two could walk together
Preferably arm in arm,
An ideal lonning for sweethearts,
To overcome shyness, it is so benign.

Tall hedgerows on either side,
Where in sunshine or in shower,
A perfectly wonderful trysting lane,
Where any twosome can stroll with grace,
In moonlight or 'neath a star-filled sky,
Couples find the joy of Lovers' Lonning,
Where closeness is never out of place.

It was on a balmy summer evening,
In the month of June he met them,
Three lovely buxom young maidens,
All decked out in pretty summer dress,
A blond, a brunette and a raven-haired
Brown-eyed beauty, who immediately
Caught his roving eyes.

They introduced themselves without shyness,
As Madeline, Rosemary and Charlotte,
All such lovely well-befitting names,
So in return he told them he was Ronald,
Known to all his friends as Bing,
From that informal unexpected meeting,
Everything went with a swing.

It was here in this chance meeting of equanimity,
Ron and the raven-haired Charlotte became enamoured,
A word that before that first meeting,
Had never entered their vocabulary,
On a daily basis, tho' now it did,
At every opportunity and always would,
Lovers' Lonning now meant all it should.

Lovers' Lonning from then reached out to them,
It became their special trysting lane,
Walking there regularly entwined,
In each other's arms, they have blest it,
Where they are beyond all others' reach.

E Alan Read

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Mackenzie's Lonning


THE second of our guided lonning walks saw 16 people head down Mackenzie's Lonning, Cleator Moor. The abundance of summer had given way to the more sparse autumn but it still made for a pleasant covered walk down this sunken lonning. And there were also one or two dog walkers enjoying the lonning, including a man cutting and trimming one of the hazel branches into a walking stick. There were blackites and sloes aplenty but this was a day for chatting and slareing (slow walking) rather than picking fruit. The walk itself was only half an hour and some returned by another route. But those who came back with me back along Mackenzie's Lonning agreed that you really have to walk both ways to see a lonning properly! It just looks so different when you come back the other way.

Here's the link to my lonnings map
(including Mackenzie's Lonning). 

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Nine Becks Path

Nine Becks Path, Ennerdale
I AM primarily writing about lonnings at the moment - that's the Cumbrian dialect word for a lane. It's all part of an art project celebrating these green paths and I am selecting those lonnings with a particular name (Billy Watson's Lonning, Low Lonning, Love Lonning etc). However, I can't ignore some of the other nicely-named footpaths, packhorse routes, drove roads, corpse roads and the like that you can find in Cumbria. Pictured is Nine Becks Path in Ennerdale. One end of it has been 'lost' temporarily as man does battle with some awful larch disease which - as usual - can only be fought by chopping the trees down. However, if you start at Low Gillerthwaite Youth Hostel in Ennerdale you've more chance of finding the path. Head up the forest road up the hill and a quarter of a mile there's a sharp bend so you double back on yourself. The path comes off that hairpin bend, going back towards Ennerdale Bridge. The start is not easy to see but once in the woods you should pick it up. I was expecting to cross nine becks but in fact found none - perhaps the dry summer is to blame, or the forestation of the area. It's a path that runs for about half a mile above and parallel to the 'main road' below. Watch your step though: some left over police tape ("Do not cross this line") suggests at least one walker has lost his footing on this steep incline.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Lonnings project launched

Billy Watson's Lonning, Harrington
ONE of the most successful events held at Florence Arts Centre, Egremont - and it was a talk about lonnings! A wet Thursday night saw 50 people crowd into the lecture room at Florence to hear me talk about my passion and to learn about a new art project based on these green lanes which criss cross the county. First, my thanks to everyone who came. And secondly, it's not too late to get involved if you missed the launch. I'm hoping we can hold an exhibition and/or other arts events celebrating lonnings - probably early in 2014. So all artists need to do is go out exploring the lonnings and then create something which helps share with others the beauty of these forgotten paths.

What is a lonning? A Cumbrian dialect term for a footpath (in the north-east they usually spell it 'lonnen'). So in a sense any footpath is a lonning. However, I'm concentrating on those specifically named 'something lonning'.

Where to find a lonning? You'll find very few named on maps (although they are usually shown as paths on OS maps). And you wont find many in the thousands of guide books or walking books either. They're usually only known to 'the locals'. However, I've compiled a Google Map of lonnings - but be aware some of these are just 'notes' and the precise location may not be known. Email me if you need help.

What do lonnings look like? You'll find many photos on my Flickr page. Some are very wooded and sunken paths but others are very wide open lanes. And yet others have already been turned into B-roads.

What do I do when I've finished my painting/photo/poem etc? Just email me and I'll line it up for the exhibition.

How else can I get involved? Lesley and I will be holding a series of lonning walks in October. You'll find details on the Florence Arts Centre website. This blog will be updated with news of lonnings and it's also worth keeping an eye on the Florence Facebook page.