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Unique Traditions Found in the English Lake District

29th February 2016

This year Campus Oxford is launching a brand new summer program that will take our students outside the confines of a university setting in Oxford or Cambridge and to the world famous – and very beautiful – English Lake District.

The Ecological Leadership Program provides a stimulating program of Sustainable Leadership training and Outdoor Pursuits. The concept of Permaculture is at the heart of the course but it is far more than that and the Lake District itself will play a large part.

The program is based at the Ulpha Old School which is located within the Duddon Valley, the gateway valley to the better known valleys of Eskdale and Langdale, as well as being close to the Lake Coniston and the eerie landscape at Wastwater. the deepest lake within the Lake District. And aside from being a place of great beauty it is also an area steeped in tradition, as is the entire Lake District National Park.

Here is a little about some of those traditions that many who live in the area work very hard to preserve and that the first students on the inaugural Ecological Leadership Program – and other visitors to the area, for thousands do flock to the region every year – can expect to encounter.

Fell Walking

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In this instance the term ‘fell’ refers to used specifically to refer to hill or mountain walking in Northern England, including the Lake District, across land considered to be high, uncultivated land. In many ways it is mountain climbing but without the ropes and other complicated equipment; a steadying hand is really all that is called for at times.

The Duddon Valley is home to a number of fell walking trails that are both picturesque and challenging. Dow Crag, Harter Fell, Greyfriar, and Caw are all fells that offer spectacular views as well as a chance to glimpse the local wildlife.

Fell walking calls only for basic, sensible equipment – sturdy boots, robust clothing, enough food and water to see on through an expedition. There are those who progress onto the more strenuous fell running (exactly what it sounds like) but for most the gentler walking experience still offers a uniquely satisfying challenge.

Lake District Food

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In an era filled with prepackaged, mass produced food the tradition of offering locally produced, organically grown products is one that Lake District residents are struggling hard to preserve, and it is indeed part of what the Permaculture Centre at the Ulpha Old School is all about.

Certain foodstuffs are traditionally associated with the Lake District of course and these really are must trys for any visitor. These include Cumberland sausage, served as a rolled up coil of rough cut pork, spices, herbs and pepper and introduced to the area by German miners in Elizabethan times, Herdwick lamb that is sweeter and more tender than most similar offerings, the uniquely flavoured damsons that grow across the fells and Kendall Mint Cake, a unique peppermint flavoured congealed sugar confection that has been giving an energy boost to walkers and climbers in the Lake District for over a century. It even made it to the top of the world in the 1953 Everest expedition!

Hound Trailing

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Hound trailing is not, as some mistakenly assume, a form of hunting but instead a display of the skills of hounds allowed to do what they do best, sniff out a trail. In this case however the trail is one of scented aniseed and the canine competitors are in a race. It’s a fun and exciting sport to watch, but one that the dogs genuinely enjoy, so spectators can too, secure in the knowledge that they are not enjoying something that the contestants are not.

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