Eden Benchmarks
Exploring the cultural landscape in East Cumbria
The Discover Eden Project

EDEN! Till now thy beauty had I viewed
By glimpses only, and confess with shame
That verse of mine, whate’er its varying mood,
Repeats but once the sound of thy sweet name:
Yet fetched from Paradise that honour came...”
William Wordsworth

Photo from The Discover Eden Project by David Nightingale
Photo by David Nightingale

During the last four years of my time with ECCP I worked in partnership with the Eden Rivers Trust on a project called Discover Eden, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  My part of it was to promote recreational access in the River Eden’s catchment region and raise public awareness of the river and its tributaries and the urgent conservation issues involved in their management in the context of a cultural landscape.

I produced a set of walk guide booklets, which provide directions and information relating to eleven routes at Mallerstang, Ravenstonedale, Kirkby Stephen, Brough, Crosby Ravensworth, Shap, Appleby, Brougham, Little Salkeld, Wetheral and Gelt Woods.  A further three were produced by Vivienne Crow relating to the area around Carlisle.  Unfortunately these are no longer available but can be downloaded from the Eden Rivers Trust website.  Extensive improvements were carried out along the routes, including major restoration work on the Nine Standards near Kirkby Stephen and reinstatement of a redundant section of road to provide a safe route for pedestrians to the Countess’ Pillar near Brougham.

A series of small bronze panels, etched with motifs by the artist Pip Hall, depicting different aspects of human and natural heritage were fixed to posts and installed at intervals along the routes.  Rubbings taken from six panels on each route, using paper and crayons eventually made a collection of 84 images.  Sadly many of the panels have since been removed and stolen.

Photo from The Discover Eden Project by Val Corbett
Photo by Val Corbett

In April 2006, I also produced a 68 page magazine supplement with Cumbria Life magazine, entitled Eden, An Accessible Paradise, featuring writers and image makers living in the area whose work is inspired by its landscape. Keith Richardson was editor of Cumbria Life Magazine then and gave me enormous help and encouragement. He has since retired to write his award winning books full time and runs his own publishing company ‘River Greta Writer’. This led on to a book called An Accessible Paradise, an anthology of poetry and prose, with lino-print images by Pip Hall, which is now out of print.

The more we all learn how to read the landscape the more we gain a better understanding of our accessible Eden Valley paradise, and the imperative of conserving a wider diversity of wildlife habitats, the more chance there will be that we can stop it becoming a paradise lost.