supporting our rural transport systems

A decade of the PlusBus is coming to an end, which is very sad news indeed; it is essential that we recognise the work of the PlusBus committee, who have put so much effort into this service over the past ten years. They have done a fabulous job of keeping this running and have successfully […]


with my father in vietnam

A week ago, Cumbria; next week, Cumbria again, walking along the Eden River from Mallerstang. But today I am in a provincial Vietnamese town with my 88-year old father. We have just been for a walk at 5.30 in the morning. The mist drifts slowly around the foot-hills and above the narrow fishing boats. Teenagers […]


the young farmers of cumbria

I first met the Cumbrian Young Farmers on a charity bike ride, last Spring. Steve Pattinson of Kinkry Hill and I were moving between pubs on a hot afternoon and I was puffing up the hill on a tiny bike without gears. We came round the corner to the Black Lion at Hethersgill and found […]


The Irresistible Illusion

Article first published in the London Review of Books in July 2009. We are accustomed to seeing Afghans through bars, or smeared windows, or the sight of a rifle: turbaned men carrying rockets, praying in unison, or lying in pools of blood; boys squabbling in an empty swimming-pool; women in burn wards, or begging in […]


river eden trust ‘source to sea’ charity walk

On 1st September Simon Johnson, Director of Eden Rivers Trust, and I will commence a fund-raising walk along the entire length of the River Eden. The 80+ mile walk, lasting four days will raise funds for Eden Rivers Trust’s conservation and education projects. A dawn start sees in day one on the 1st September at […]

Community Action

the big society and local democracy

The Prime Minister has now said repeatedly that Big Society is his passion and that he wants it to be his most lasting positive legacy. Where a Prime-minster leads, an industry emerges: think-tanks ponder it; civil servants wish to legislate on it, columnists debate it, new Ministers are created to propagate it.  But what is […]

Rory in Kabul museum

the beginning of recess

I am writing this on the 0719. Coach A is empty. We haven’t yet reached Shap. The ash leaves are dark and there is rain over Knipe Crag, but the near grass is an electric green and the hidden sun brings out every wrinkle and glow in the limestone walls. I had thought that in describing […]

Meeting Constituents

westminster’s crazy, but I’d rather be eating cake in cumbria

The oddest thing about coming to parliament for the first time is that you come straight from a campaign which has next to nothing to do with parliament. In my case, I had spent the previous months almost entirely in Cumbria: walking through villages and visiting cattle auctions and schools, dairy farms and affordable housing […]

Addressing a protest against Wind Farms

only connect: creating opportunities for our rural communities

Two weeks ago, on a mizzening Saturday morning in Mungrisdale –  having just cut the ribbon of the Northern Fells Group’s new fell-runner community bus – I visited the house of an elderly woman living on a state pension, whose cottage lay at the end of an unpaved track. The charity’s founder, Dr Jim Cox, […]