AN ACTION group trying to buy Blencathra say they are ‘on track for purchase’.
More than 50 people who turned up to the Friends of Blencathra public meeting at the Rheged Centre, Penrith, on Saturday, heard the good news.
In attendance, alongside the steering group, was honorary president Sir Chris Bonnington, who has lived in the Lake District for 45 years.
“To have that feeling of communally owning the mountain is incredible, and I’m honoured to have been asked to be the figurehead,” he said.
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“I’ve heard people say it doesn’t matter who owns it because no one can do anything with it, but it’s much more than that and we can contribute to this wonderful mountain by discussing grazing levels or enhancing the beauty by growing natural forests.”
The group could not reveal the amount raised so far as they claimed it would give the competition the upper hand but they assured those present that they were ‘on target’ to buy the mountain.
Iconic Blencathra is on the market for £1.75 million as cash-strapped Lord Lonsdale struggles to pay £9 million inheritance tax. The buyer of the 2,676-acre mountain will become Lord of the Manor of Threlkeld and own what Wainwright called ‘the jewel in Lakeland’s crown.’ Campaigners also announced that they hoped to have charity status by the close of this week and were ploughing ahead with registering the mountain as a community asset.
If the bid is successful Friends of Blencathra will have six weeks to decide if they want to buy it then a further six months to raise the funds.
Chairman Debbie Cosgrove said: “At the end of the six months Lord Lonsdale doesn’t have to sell it to us, so there’s a weight of responsibility to make him understand how important it is to us.”
She added that despite requesting meetings with Lord Lonsdale daily they were getting ‘flippant’ responses. Representatives from Friends of the Lake District and the National Trust both backed the campaign at the meeting and said they would help in any way they could.
Hesket Newmarket Brewery has also made a Blencathra beer in support of the group’s actions and for every pint sold, 10p will go into the pot during June and July.
And the Friends have also made a record of Woody Guthrie’s 1944 song ‘This Land is Your Land.’ Musician Dave Cumlin, from West Cumbria, who came up with the idea, said: “The song raises questions about who owns the land and tackles some issues surrounding Blencathra.”