Monthly Archives: December 2009

walking makes it through when cars fail

When Monday’s blizzard drove a gritter into a ditch, blocking all vehicle traffic from Penrith to Alston, I was lucky to be on foot, as I managed to do the whole journey from Alston to Castle Carrock.

It was extraordinary to come up onto Hartside and see the lights of the police car, shimmering in the blizzard. A long line of cars was beginning to snake slowly back down the road to Alston, having been forced to abandon their journey. One of the drivers of the gritting lorry told me that his pleas to keep his old vehicle, a good 4×4 had been ignored by his bosses.  Instead, they had been forced to take on a new vehicle which he knew would be unsuitable and which had crashed.  This is a prime example of why we should learn to listen to the people who have been doing these jobs for decades instead of imposing alien theories from above.

I continued through knee-deep snow off-road to Renwick, where I was greeted by Mr.Dixon, a local farmer. ‘Hello, I’m the conservative candidate’ I said. ‘Monster Raving Loony candidate more like walking on a day like this,’ Dixon replied, ‘still – I’ll give you this, you must be keen.’

Having crossed Afghanistan by foot in temperatures of minus 40, shortly after the fall of the Taliban, and having climbed from my home in Dufton over Great Dun Fell through heavy snow the previous day, I was able to put the weather into some perspective. I arrived in Castle Carrock, about two hours after dark. It was a slow walk, because people kept coming out of their houses to offer me mince-pies – my only regret is that although I entered Croglin at dusk, I did not see the vampire.


observations on walking with rory


So on day one I meet Rory.

And on day two I join him on his walk.

And we walk as it happens from Morland to Penrith, through the mid grey of a winter morning with hardly a breath of wind and just the touch of a sneeze of rain.

For the morning, we have Freddy Markham as our guide. He has lived in Morland all his life, his fathers and grandfathers canons and prelates of the startling low slung Saxon church that sits in the village centre. Freddy takes us round the outer and inner circles of Morland, round the vicarage garden, through the graveyard, past the Crown Inn, into the cafe, into the old vicarage stables that now house his travelwear business.

Rory’s plan for his walk is to meet as many of his potential constituents as possible, to hear as many stories as possible, to bring politics back to the ground. And today, Freddy leading the way, we hear stories from Mark the cafe owner, from members of Freddy’s business team; from Henry the dairyman and Barry the mobile library driver; from the Horn family, from two ladies from Newby out walking their dogs, from Peter Stott in Melkinthorpe whose garden centre we pause to admire. By lunchtime, the Beacon beckons. Eamont Bridge and the outer reaches of Penrith and finally the Bluebell Bookshop where Rory is to give a talk on his travels and times in Afghanistan. We have covered seven miles and Rory walks into the Bluebell, one more intriguing snapshot of this area safely stowed.

By Charlotte Fairbairn


orton farmers’ market

On Saturday December 12, I had the opportunity to visit the Orton Farmers’ market on the third day of my two-month walk across the constituency. It was great to meet local farmers and shoppers, and to see the range of high quality food produce from Cumbrian farms. Penrith and the Border is really leading the way for the future of rural economic development – over 20% of the population are self-employed – which is one of the very highest figures in the country. I met some incredibly hard-working and creative small business owners in the Orton market, who were attracting shoppers from well-outside the county. We need to make sure these businesses are given the freedom and the support to prosper.

It’s also striking how much effort and energy is invested in making the local community a good place to live, and how welcoming these villages are to visitors. Every day of my walk teaches me more about Cumbrian hospitality. On Friday, I was invited in for lunch in Newbigging; the head of Ravenstonedale parish council walked up the hill to keep me company, a fourth person offered me a bed in Orton and at dusk outside Rysbeck another lady shouted ‘not far now’. The next morning, my lunch-companion was at the magnificent Orton Church, my walking companion was singing in the choir, my evening host was serving mince-pies and the last lady was in her formal dress as a vicar, introducing the Bishop of Carlisle. The choir and congregation were drawn from thirty miles of Cumbria. The Orton Farmers’ Market was not a just a great demonstration of Cumbrian enterprise but also a wonderful symbol of the community coming together, working together and showing hospitality to all.

get involved

Thank you for your interest in helping Rory become the next Member of Parliament for Penrith and The Border.

If you’d like to get involved with Rory’s election campaign there are a number of ways you can assist:

Help Spread the Word About Rory

It’s really important you tell friends, neighbours, colleagues and family members about Rory’s campaign. Please spread the word. You can also invite your Facebook friends to become a fan or to join the campaign Facebook group.

Join the Campaign

Click here to fill in our campaign volunteer form. We’ll collect your details and get in touch about how you can help.

We need volunteers to:

  • help distribute campaign literature
  • canvass potential voters
  • assist with administration and co-ordination in the campaign HQ
  • help fundraise

Join me on is an exciting new online campaign website. Click here to pay a visit, where you can get the latest campaign news, help fundraise and get involved.

Donate to the Campaign Fund

Please remember you must be a UK resident to donate to my campaign. Your donation will be spent wisely on:

  • printing campaign literature
  • calling undecided voters
  • paying for online advertising
  • sending out constituent surveys and the postage on responses

Thank you for your generosity.

walk through the constituency

Between 9th December and 23rd December I will be walking through the constituency – this will present a unique opportunity to develop a detailed understanding of Penrith and the Border. More importantly will provide a chance to meet local people and hear views on the problems and challenges facing the community. The schedule for the walk is available on this website – please do contact me if you would like to meet.