Friday, 16 August 2013

Lake District 'Uncovered'

Over the weekend of Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th September, the National Trust is running a very special series of events, talks, walks and activities in the Lake District.

The 'Uncovered' weekend, taking place in and around Borrowdale, looks at the influence of the landscape on human creativity.

Generations of poets, painters, musicians and thinkers have been inspired by the landscape of the Lake District. Wordsworth and Coleridge - as well as painters, musicians and even cartographers - were entranced by area’s scenery and captivated by its natural riches.

Retrace their steps on foot and by boat to uncover how this wonderful landscape became their source of inspiration!

For full details, times and locations of all Lake District ‘Uncovered’ events - and to book your place - please visit

Here’s a little introduction to whet your appetite, by National Trust expert Matthew Oates. Matthew is a naturalist with a keen interest in poetic nature. He is a member of the Friends of Coleridge, and was an English scholar at Coleridge’s old school.

Coleridge is not a stuffy character from some distant era, now irrelevant. Great thinkers, especially poets, speak to us not from the past, but from tomorrow.  Coleridge does just that. He thought way ahead of his time, and would perhaps have been more at home in the late 1960s.

Above all, he was - and is - a polymath, and a radical free thinker.  He was a poet, not so much because he wrote poetry (in fact many of his poems were never finished, as he had an appalling track record at completing them, and was even worse at starting them) but because he lived and breathed the poetic life. His values were that of a poet with a firm commitment to the poetic understanding of Nature. He didn’t just sit at a desk writing poetry, in fact he did rather too little of that. 

During his life he was perhaps better known as an orator, for he was an electrifying speaker, when not under the influence of drink, opium or depression (or combinations thereof). A series of lectures he gave in London generated stupendous traffic jams and led to the creation of our first one-way system. He also worked very successfully as a diplomat in Malta and, as a young man, almost became a Unitarian minister. Had he gone into the church, and stayed, he could have transformed the development of Christianity. He moved to Keswick to be near Wordsworth instead. 

At various times of his life he worked as a journalist, though he was not good at filing copy on time (his sense of time was, shall we say, idiosyncratic). It was Coleridge who discovered the Beauty of Buttermere story, interviewing the cad responsible for the young lady’s debauchment just before the bounder was hung in Penrith prison - for impersonating an MP! 

He was, perhaps above all else, a glorious eccentric, scarcely contained by convention, a free spirit who drew few distinctions between the real, physical world and the world of the imagination. He may well have been somewhat bipolar. 

Today we celebrate Coleridge, his vision, his relationship with Nature, and his life and times in the Lake District and beyond. It certainly won’t be boring…

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