Have just been washing the mud of Cumbria off the car, though it is perhaps unfair to categorise it as just Cumbrian; I've also been to Oxfordshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire, on an epic tour of villages, undertaken at a cracking pace. I've been doing quite a lot of these tours recently for a book I've been writing for Bloomsbury. I've set myself the task of visting all the ones I mention and there are 500 of them. It's pleasurable but brisk.
Cumbria is one of the most beautiful of counties because it doesn't have much industry beyond farming. But like so much of the countryside, it used to. I ended my odyssey at Nent Head, established by lead-mining Quakers in the 17th century. It still seems a lonely sort of place, heaps of frozen snow still on the ground, smoke from a few chimneys being the only visible sign of life, except for a woman walking a dog. She said that people can still remember the days when it would be cut off from the nearest little town, and people would have to dig through ten foot snowdrifts to get bread. A tough place.
Troutbeck in the bright morning light was a contrast: all National Trust loveliness. Here's a picture of it. I blush for the inadequacy of the photo, Troubeck being a muched photographed place. I can least say that I have captured a unique moment. There was nobody else about when I was there, except for a lad on a quadbike and he didn't seem to have a camera.