A paraglider above Hall's Fell Ridge on Blencathra

A paraglider above Hall's Fell Ridge on Blencathra

A social media campaign to crowdsource the purchase of one of Lakeland’s best loved mountains is gathering pace.

Blencathra has been placed on the market with a price tag of £2.1m by its present owner, the eighth Earl of Lonsdale, to raise cash to help pay off death duties.

The earl, Hugh Lowther, said he hoped ‘some daft Russian’ might buy the fell to show off, but outdoor fans are mooting the idea of trying to find enough money to buy the 868m (2,848ft) mountain for the nation.

A Friends of Blencathra group has been set up on Facebook and Twitter has a Buy Blencathra campaign started by Andy Luke. Both say they are talking each other and don’t want to duplicate effort.

The Friends said elder statesman of mountaineering Sir Chris Bonington, who lives close to Blencathra, has agreed to be their president.

Initial soundings with the National Trust by the Buy Blencathra group were encouraging, they said.

A first meeting of the Friends group will take place this coming Sunday, 11 May at the parish hall in the village of Embleton, between Bassenthwaite Lake and Cockermouth, starting at 2pm.

The Buy Blencathra campaign said: “Our opportunity in 2014 is to purchase Blencathra and donate it in perpetuity to the nation as lovers of the mountains, as a fitting mark of respect of 100 years since the start of World War One, and recognition of the sacrifices of so many men and women so that we could enjoy the freedoms from which we benefit today.

“Donation to the nation would mean no further sale in the future.

“This proposal has a precedent. In 1923 members of Fell & Rock Climbing Club purchased 3,000 acres of land and donated it in to the nation in memory of their fallen members.

“That land included Lingmell, Great End, Allen Crags, Green Gable, Great Gable, Kirk Fell and other peaks to the East and West of Styhead Pass.”

The group said they hoped to hand over Blencathra to the National Trust if the campaign was successful.

Walkers on Hall's Fell Ridge, Blencathra

Walkers on Hall's Fell Ridge, Blencathra

Most of Blencathra, also known as Saddleback, is open access land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. There are also public rights of way on the mountain, as well as numerous paths which are not rights of way, including the tricky grade-one scramble up Sharp Edge and the less difficult scrambly route up Hall’s Fell Ridge.

It is also a site of special scientific interest and is also a European special area of conservation.

The British Mountaineering Council’s access and conservation policy officer Cath Flitcroft said: “Blencathra is one of our most iconic mountains in England set in the beautiful Lake District national park.

“While the BMC feels the current level of protection awarded to the area will safeguard public interest, it is essential that whatever happens to this mountain, its value as a wild, exciting landscape to explore continues to be cherished.”

More details of the Buy Blencathra campaign are on its website and on Twitter @BuyBlencathra. The Friends of Blencathra can be found on Facebook and Twitter @helpblencathra.

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