Unusual Aspects of Lakeland

  • 22/11/2010

The Lakeland Terrier's name and fame resounds the world over as the crowning glory of Lakeland farmers' breeding achievements!

The appellation, Lakeland, was added to the breed only in modern times. Formerly the breed was known as the Patterdale Terrier.

In days gone by, the Lake District had lot of foxes that marauded on the sheepfolds. The farmers would form a hunt with a couple of hounds and a large number of terriers. This hunt was not a mere pastime. It involved heroism and prowess on the part of men and beasts to get out in the open and comb the area for the foxes and destroy them.

The Lakeland Terriers' forays with man as a faithful combatant in the hunt are legendary. Some have paid the ultimate price in the subterranean fox holes; others have come out victorious bearing marks of combat on their bodies. The Lakeland Terrier's body is no wider than its head. This enabled them to crawl into the fox holes. With this frame they accomplished their dangerous mission for their master and earned for themselves a name in canine history.

The fierce courage of the Lakeland Terrier allowed it to scout some distance underground to reach for the fox: in doing so, one of them earned a place in history. Lord Lonsdale's terrier scampered many yards deep to corner its prey; getting it out again required three days of manual work! And some of these tenacious dogs have been rescued after ten to twelve days underground!

Although bred to work and having a history of many generations of work they are quick to adapt for shows. The terrier's gameness and courage may not be needed anymore, but it has a faithful and quiet disposition as a canine companion.

There are many other unqiue aspects to Lakeland. For example: there is a dark side to the Lakes' history: the slave trade! A trade which profited men in ways that shame us all.

Storrs Hall is one of the most spectacular hotels in Windermere. This Georgian Mansion was the work of the renowned architect, Joseph Gandy, and the possession of John Bolton, a Cumbrian who made a fortune for himself from the slave trade. He held regattas on the lake and entertained distinguished people, among them Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott. Bolton's ownership of one of the best houses of England was a tribute to his involvement in the flourishing business of the slave trade at Whitehaven, a port on the Cumbrian coast.

A museum there, christened "The Rum Story", tells the story of how merchants of rum and spirits who lived in the Lake District owned plantations in the West Indies. Their ships brought huge quantities of rum, tobacco and sugar to Whitehaven. But behind the fine quality of the dark rum, the excellence of the tobacco, and the honeyed sweetness of the sugar, there was the blood, the sweat and the toil of the slaves.

One traveler who made a number of trips to the place in the days of slavery was William Wilberforce. He traveled from Hull (it took three weeks to reach there) and stayed in a rented house named Rayrigg. He was the premier abolitionist of all time. Much of his work on antislavery legislation was inspired by his trips to the Lake District. It was his work that ultimately emancipated slaves in all parts of the British Empire.

But let us move on and examine more pleasant matters! The nostalgic association with the Windermere of Lake District far at home might have urged the early explorers, missionaries and settlers to christen the places they went with this romanticized Norse word. Consequently there are Windermeres in Australia and New Zealand, in the Bahamas, the US and Canada.

Perhaps geographical distance augmented a deep-seated craving for home? Australia has a whopping thirty four "Windermere" names. Victoria has an astonishing eight Windermeres of one sort or another - mostly places - followed by Queensland which has seven. New South Wales boasts six Windermeres, Southern Australia and Tasmania both have five. Western Australia has two Windermeres and Australian Capital Territory has a representative one. New Zealand has at least nine Windermeres.

These surprising statistics reveal how the migrant English carried the memory of the Lake District in their hearts even in the new land they made their home. The breathtaking sight of the Lake District's Windermere perhaps lingered in the minds of the pioneering Anglo-Saxon explorers and settlers, even in the remote Bahamas! So today we have a Windermere Island there! It is about five miles long and noted for its splendid beaches, a haven for all types of tourists.

The USA has a proud list of eighteen major locations or buildings called Windermere. Canada has sixteen geographical features named after Windermere.

So, we can be sure of this: explorers, missionaries and settlers alike knew that the name Windermere stood for breathtaking visual beauty then, just as it does today!

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