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Monday, 06 July 2015

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Celebrity backing for the campaign to buy Blencathra

TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle is one of a host of celebrities backing a campaign to ‘save’ Lake District mountain Blencathra.

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Landowner the Earl of Lonsdale has put the peak on the market for £1.75 million to help settle a £9m inheritance tax bill.

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

The group wants to buy it and has launched a fund-raising campaign.

Mr Fogle, who has rowed the Atlantic Ocean and presented TV shows including Extreme Dreams, said: “I support the community bid. I believe Blencathra should stay with the community and not go to someone with more money than heart and who will buy it just for the kudos of owning a mountain.”

Wigton-born broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg said he was backing the campaign and added: “I totally support the campaign to save Blencathra from a private sale which may have unexpected and unwelcome consequences.”

Cumbrian mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington, who lives in Caldbeck, has been made honorary president of the group.

He said: “I just like the idea. I like the thought of it being owned by people who really care about it. Like an awful lot of people I feel it is an iconic mountain and a gateway to the main Lake District. I have climbed it many times.”

He said that once the public bought the mountain there would be several options for its continued management which could be explored later.

Michael Thompson, hunt master of the Blencathra Foxhounds, the hunt pack based at Blencathra, said members were looking forward to the outcome with interest but the pack had nothing else to contribute to the discussion at the moment.

The Friends of Blencathra group now has more than 6,300 members and pledges in excess of £1 million.

Debbie Cosgrove, chairman, said they were waiting for the group’s charitable status to be confirmed.

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Local Government, has been asked to fast track a community asset application which would stop Lord Lonsdale selling the mountain before the community has time to raise the money.

A bank account has been set up and donations can be left at any branch of the Cumberland Building Society to the Friends of Blencathra account.

Meanwhile, musicians and singers will gather at Castlerigg Stone Circle, in the shadow of Blencathra, on Monday at 6pm to record a Woody Guthrie song with Cumbrian lyrics to support the group.

This Land Is Your Land will be sung by community choir Sing Owt.

People will be meeting from 5pm for a shared picnic before the recording starts at 6pm.


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