UNESCO visit takes bid a step closer11 October 2016
Last week we completed a major milestone in the Lake District’s nomination to be a World Heritage Site, with two expert assessors from UNESCO’s cultural heritage advisory body visiting us. It was a near impossible task to do this wonderful place justice in just a week, but the Lake District National Park, together with a range of organisations from the Lake District National Park Partnership, pulled together a fantastic programme showcasing three key themes of the bid: identity, inspiration and conservation.
First impressions count. Our assessors arrived on Sunday afternoon to see Windermere and the surrounding fells in a blaze of Autumn sunshine and settled in to the Low Wood Bay Hotel which had provided rooms for the first three nights. A great start to the week.
This continued for Monday’s visits to the Langdales, Loughrigg Terrace and Ambleside and Tuesday’s visits to Belle Isle, Claife Viewing Station (as seen in the photo above), Beatrix Potter’s Hilltop at Sawrey and Ruskin’s home at Brantwood. On Tuesday evening the assessors met the Lake District National Park Partnership over a dinner to mark the Partnership’s 10th anniversary.
On Wednesday, with the sun still shining, the mission visited Fell Foot Farm in Little Langdale, the Eskdale Mill in Boot, the Wasdale Screes and the Buttermere valley, ending at the Leathes Head Hotel which had kindly provided rooms for the second half of the week. Thursday was a day of key meetings with United Utilities at Thirlmere, the Lakes Culture steering group at the Wordsworth Trust and the Partnership’s Business Task Force at Allan Bank, Grasmere.
Other highlights on Thursday included a tour of Dove Cottage, a viewing of Dorothy Wordsworth’s first Grasmere Journal and a dinner with representatives of our farming community. On Friday, which saw the only light rain of the week, the assessors met representatives of the Caldbeck Commoners Association to discuss common land issues and finished with a boat trip around Derwentwater which also served as a final meeting with members of the World Heritage steering group.
This modern day “Grand Tour” was hard work, but anyone who has seen the nomination document will have some idea of the sheer amount of detail to get through and the number of partners that the assessors had to meet to understand the full story of why the Lake District is worthy of World Heritage inscription.
We didn’t receive, nor did we expect, any feedback on our chance of success at the end of the visit. Not even a nod, a wink, or otherwise. Our assessors will report back to the ICOMOS committee later in the year and we will start to get more information from then on. No final decisions until July 2017, so still some way to go.