On Cumbria

Cumbria valley


It is August 1805, two friends have risen early, on a cold Cumbrian morning, to climb Striding edge to Helvellyn. The previous night, they are recognised in the inn, but they have fun pretending not to be who they are. They are well-educated, have travelled abroad, and have lived in great capital cities. But their […]

burying bad news – the debate over nuclear waste

The battle over nuclear waste, which ended on Wednesday, shows why, sometimes at least, politics still matters. The story behind it was straightforward: the government, which plans to build more nuclear power-stations, wanted a community willing to host an underground, concrete bunker for the storage of waste. Copeland, in part because of its experience of […]

Incongruous Lives and Unexpected Voices

It is the Parliamentary recess, and I have been walking through Cumbria and the Borders. On the second day I climbed over Helvellyn and Great Dodd, and slept in cloud on the summit of Blencathra. Day six was along the sand from Maryport to Silloth. Day nine was over lowland raised mires from Wigton to […]

the boundary commission

The Boundary Commission has placed its chisel into the High Street ridge, where the Roman Road falls to Troutbeck, and struck it with a hammer, shattering the county like a piece of Skiddaw slate.  One long crack now runs towards the coast, another North to Carlisle, another South to Arnside – making a rent in our […]

wind turbines

We were nervous about the rally against wind turbines last Saturday. We worried that no-one would turn up, or that a crowd of hostile ‘antis’ would be bussed in to shout us down. But by eleven thirty, fifty yards north of the Scottish border, there were over two hundred people, well-wrapped against the cold. Two […]

impact of the budget on penrith and the border

  This is a fantastic budget for Penrith and the Border. Our economy depends on four things: small and medium sized businesses (which prop up our incredible tourism industry), fuel prices (because of our long distances), infrastructure (such as broadband) and agriculture. We’ve made huge progress on broadband and, following the visit of the Defra Ministers last […]

wind farms

My opposition to wind-turbines used to be merely theoretical. I understood that they were an inefficient way of generating energy and that companies pushed them into inappropriate places, against the wishes of communities, because of extravagant subsidies. But Britain desperately needed clean energy. I knew struggling farmers, for whom turbines could bring enough income to […]


single status ‘job families allocation’

Rory  has issued a statement in support of the county’s many Teaching Assistants and Learning Support Assistants affected by Cumbria County Council’s review of job profiles and terms and conditions under the Single Status ‘Job Families Allocation’ review. He has responded to queries from a number of concerned constituents by contacting the Chief Executive of […]

new year in cumbria

I spent Christmas with my family. My little sister, who has Down’s Syndrome, made Christmas for us. She spent much of the holiday in a pink, pointed woollen hat, with ear flaps – the kind I imagine a Peruvian wearing. She took my father swimming and me skating (I promptly fell over in the middle […]

village hall led revolution

Article first published in The Observer on 2 January 2011. An internet revolution driven by tiny rural communities and their village halls in Cumbria is giving the telecoms giants a run for their money This winter, 130 activists gathered to discuss superfast broadband in a village hall in Cumbria. They had come from 100 villages, […]