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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

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Blencathra campaign gathers momentum

The Government has been asked to step in to “save” Blencathra for the community after the mountain’s owner, the Earl of Lonsdale, declined to meet with a group trying to buy it.

The Friends of Blencathra group was set up on social networking website Facebook after Hugh Lowther decided to sell the peak, which is also known as Saddleback.

He has put it on the market for £1.75 million to help settle a £9m inheritance tax bill.

The group was told by his agents that he would not meet with them as he wanted to continue with the auction, which closes on July 2.

More than 100 people attended the group’s first public meeting at Embleton Village Hall, near Cockermouth, on Sunday to decide how to proceed.

They agreed to form a steering committee and it is likely that a trust will now be set up.

The steering committee will look at options that may include buying the mountain and handing its administration and maintenance to the Lake District National Park Authority.

This week, Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham and Penrith and the Borders MP Rory Stewart have been meeting and Mr Stewart is due to arrange a meeting with Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities, to see if the peak can be made a community asset so the Friends of Blencathra would have first refusal.

Group founder Debbie Cosgrove, of Allerby, near Maryport, a project manager at Allerdale council, said: “The number of people who attended the meeting at Embleton on Sunday and the fact that they came from all over Britain indicates how determined people are that this mountain does not go to some remote businessman.

“Nobody can move the mountain, but we do believe that if it is owned by the people it will be taken care of better.

“I think we have come a long way from an almost joking remark that we buy the mountain. It now looks like a reality.”

The Friends of Blencathra Facebook page was set up nine days ago and now has 6,029 members.

Cumbrian mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington, who lives at Caldbeck, is the group’s honorary president. TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle has also backed the group.

No cash will be accepted until a trust is set up.

To pledge money, email pledge@friendsofblencathra.co.uk

Have your say

My donation's in the post, in memory of some of the happiest days of my life! Lovely to think that when the mountain belongs to us, one little stone will be mine!

Posted by Bronwen Lewis on 17 May 2014 at 16:37

The group have now started fundraiding, further details can be found at

www.friendsofblencathra.co.uk

or

www.facebook.com/groups/blencathra

Posted by Friends of Blencathra on 16 May 2014 at 22:40

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