I’m Alex Morgan and I’m a novelist and journalist. I live in Cockermouth, and also work part-time as interpretation and communications manager for the National Trust at Wordsworth House and Garden.
My favourite time here always involves being out in this extraordinary, energising landscape. An early run around Crummock Water is an exhilarating way to start a summer morning. The freshness of the air, the peace and the beauty of the views fuel the mind and body like nothing else. When time’s short, a quick hike up Sale Fell by Bassenthwaite Lake, one of the smallest Wainwrights, or a pre-lunch stomp along the coffin route above Loweswater, returning through the lovely Holme Wood, always lifts the spirits.
Being surrounded by a landscape that has inspired world-famous writers, all the way from Wordsworth to Wainwright, encouraged me to continue writing fiction when I began to doubt I’d ever be published. That perseverance paid off when Tandem, my first novel, won the 2013 Hookline Novel Competition.
There’s nothing more magical than to be out in the fells at night, sitting by a tarn (I’m not saying which one in case I start a stampede!) watching the stars come out across a vast, inky sky. Doing exactly that inspired a chapter in my latest novel, Pressmennan. Star gazing outside the tiny Black Sail youth hostel in Ennerdale comes a pretty close second, especially as there’s a cosy bunk waiting for you just a few metres away.
If our visitors are walkers, there’s nothing better than a trip up Haystacks, Wainwright’s favourite fell, followed by a round of Buttermere. In late May, a detour to take in Rannerdale’s breath-taking bluebells is a must. For me it’s about a landscape filled with dramatic shapes and wonderful colours, some subtle, others dizzyingly vibrant. There are high mountains, deep valleys and gorgeous lakes, skies that range from slate to cyan, fellsides carpeted with shades of rust, olive, moss, emerald and the buttery yellow of gorse, giving off a fabulously heady aroma of coconut and sun cream.
It’s not just about protecting the environment and the plants and creatures that inhabit it; it’s also about preserving the traditional fell farming economy – epitomised by Beatrix Potter’s beloved Herdwick sheep – that has played a central part in shaping how the Lake District looks today. But the Lake District isn’t a museum piece; it’s a living landscape where countless generations have worked, played and been inspired
It’s this combination of people and place that makes it so special.
World Heritage status would be an acknowledgement of its global value, benefiting the modern economy by attracting more people, while providing an additional layer of protection to all that is timeless and precious.
Alex Morgan is a novelist and journalist. She lives in Cockermouth, and also works part-time as interpretation and communications manager for the National Trust at Wordsworth House and Garden.