Friends of the Lake District celebrated its 85th birthday at the summit of Latrigg near Keswick on Friday 21st June. An open invitation saw its members, supporters and many residents make the climb and watch the sun setting below the iconic profile of Skiddaw in the distance on the evening of the summer solstice.
Founded on 17th June 1934, at a rally in Fitz Park, Keswick, Friends of the Lake District was originally set up with the single-minded aim to establish a Lake District National Park. Something which they achieved in 1951, when their campaigning led to the Lake District becoming one of England’s first national parks.
Douglas Chalmers, Chief Executive at Friends of the Lake District said: “This evening we take time to watch the sun setting over Keswick, to take a breath and reflect on all that has been achieved in our 85 years; tomorrow, there will be more to do and many challenges to face.
“We have never faltered in our commitment and the enthusiasm needed to take action to enhance and conserve the natural beauty of Cumbria’s glorious landscapes for the benefit of visitors, local communities, wildlife and habitats.
“Moments like these, surrounded not only by the landscape that gives us our purpose, but also by many of the people who enable us to do so, simply strengthens our resolve.
“This resolve will serve us well at a time when the need for an independent organisation like Friends of the Lake District is greater than at any moment in our history.”
The invitation to the event came with the usual ominous disclaimer, ‘The celebration will go ahead in wet/poor weather unless it is unsafe to do so i.e. high winds, poor visibility or lightning’ but the crowd at the summit – for once – needn’t have worried.
Assembled supporters were treated to a glorious sunset, a spectacular birthday cake – a creation by talented cake maker Joanne Dixon (Cakes Galore) – and champagne to toast Friends of the Lake District in recognition of its enduring presence as an independent charity with the enhancement and protection of Cumbria’s landscape at its heart.