Posted 16th May 2018

Commemorating The Great Gift at Dalegarth Station

Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway and the National Trust are celebrating The Great Gift at Dalegarth Station with an exhibition that tells the stories of the soldiers from the Eskdale Valley and how the end of World War I was commemorated in the Lake District.

An unusual way that West Cumberland supported the war effort was the organised harvesting of sphagnum moss which was used to treat wounds on the battlefield. As you walk around Eskdale you will see many kinds of moss, and it is in the wetter boggier areas that Sphagnum moss can be found. There were many people from these rural valleys who went to fight in the First World War and there is a war memorial in Boot village with the names of local men who did not return.

2018 is the centenary of the end of the Great War, but a lesser known fact is that in the years after peace was declared, Scafell Pike and 12 other Lakeland summits were gifted to the National Trust, becoming a spectacular and unique memorial to those Britons lost in World War I. The 'Great Gift' as it became known – Scafell Pike from Lord Leconfield and 12 summits from the Fell and Rock Climbing Club – was one of the largest donations ever to the National Trust, and ensured hundreds of thousands of people were able to freely walk the mountains and continue to do so today.  

In this centenary year, the National Trust is organising a series of commemorations to show gratitude for these amazing gifts. The commemorations include exhibitions at Dalegarth Station and Wordsworth House, Songs on the Summits, and the rebuilding a summit cairn on Scafell Pike, England's tallest mountain.

The exhibition at Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway’s Dalegarth station at Boot is open daily and free to visit.

Lisa Braithwaite, Attractions Manager at the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway says;

“Millions of people visit the Lakes District but few are familiar with the deeply moving story of how the landscape was gifted to the nation following World War I. We’re proud to host this exhibition at Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway to help raise awareness about the contribution that people in this area made and the importance of conserving the landscape for future generations to enjoy.”

Photos are left to right: An illustration of one of the trains on the Eskdale & Ravenglass Railway during the war years, a farmer working in the fields with his horse by Joseph Hardman and Boot village War Memorial.

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For additional information or to arrange a press trip please contact: Sorcha Hunter PR & Content Executive Cumbria Tourism | shunter@cumbriatourism.org | 01539 825019

Additional images can be downloaded here: https://bit.ly/2rS6ftV

Editors notes:

The Great Gift Exhibition at Dalegarth Station is free to visit and runs from March-December 2018. Opening times vary, see the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway for more details https://ravenglass-railway.co.uk/

About Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway:

Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway is a family-owned business operating a heritage, narrow gauge steam railway on the Western Coast of the Lake District. The railway is surrounded by stunning views and walks and is based in Ravenglass, the only coastal village in the Lake District National Park. The business’s awards include a Silver Green Tourism award, Coach Tourism's 2015 Heritage Railway award, Cumbria Tourism’s 2015 Large Visitor Attraction of the Year award among many others.

National Trust events that are part of the commemoration of The Great Gift in the Lakes District:

  • Where Poppies Blow: a moving exhibition at Wordsworth House. In the Great War, tens of thousands went to fight for the fields, flowers and birds of Britain. 2018 exhibition marks 100 years since the end of hostilities by revealing the extraordinary role played by nature.
  • Scafell Pike - Restoring the summit
  • Cairn. Rangers and volunteers are camping out on the summit of Scafell Pike to rebuild the summit cairn - England's highest war memorial.
  • Songs on the Summits 1918-2018. A special 'leave no trace' arts project of a song cycle performed and recorded on the top of Great Gable and the other fells gifted by the Fell and Rock Climbing Club.

The gift of the 12 peaks was made in 1923. The peaks are: Lingmell, Broad Crag, Great End, Seathwaite Fell, Allen Crags, Glaramara, Kirk Fell, Great Gable, Green Gable, Base Brown, Brandreth and Grey Knotts.

More information about how the National Trust is commemorating WW1 can be found here www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/commemorating-ww1-in-the-lake-district

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