A Knight’s Tale (116.1 Cumbrian Interludes)

During the early 1990s Jessica and I enjoyed a number of holidays in Cumbria.

Our August 1992 holiday was spent at Towcett with Ali, Steve, and James.

On 18th August we climbed the fells from Haweswater where we made the acquaintance of

mountain sheep who looked rather more comfortable than I felt.

The youngsters, Louisa, naturally taking the lead, ascended with the help of mountain bikes

and the rest of us hiked.

Louisa tackling daunting banana split 19.8.92 1

As we know, Louisa is game for anything, but it looks as if she found this banana split, consumed at Tudor Restaurant, Penrith, rather daunting.

We stayed at Teal Cottage, one of the holiday homes in the grounds of Towcett House, the home of Jessica’s cousin Angie, and her then husband Viscount Hugh Lowther. There, Sam manufactured a bow and arrow and an archery contest soon got under way.

Louisa firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 1
Louisa firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 2
Louisa firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 3

Louisa was first at the butts;

Sam firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 1
Sam firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 2

Sam followed;

James A firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 2
James A firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 3
James A firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 4

and James brought up the rear.

Readers may be surprised at the tale of Hugh’s microlight.  I was.  Viscount Lowther was a microlight fanatic.  A microlight is a very flimsy looking flying machine designed for two people.  Hugh would study his route, fill up with fuel, and set off, like Baron Munchausen, in the direction of the moon, reappearing some hours later.  He was quite keen that we should all have a trip.  As  I watched each member of the family in turn strap themselves into their seat, tune in their walkie talkie radio, and glide into the firmament, I determined that no way was I going to do the same.  Eventually, of course, I was the only person who hadn’t been up.  So I had to.  I didn’t want to be thought of as chicken.  After all, I had seen, and smelt from a great distance the battery chicken farm in Lowther Castle.  Lowther Castle had, many years before, lost its roof, as a not uncommon measure to avoid paying a roof tax; it had post-1960, been converted to the rearing of battery hens.

You will have to excuse that little diversion.  I didn’t really want to be reminded of my turn in the air.  Hugh’s flying machine, in which he did become a remarkable man, was of the type in which the passenger sits above and behind the pilot.  There is therefore nothing above the victim but the propeller system.  In my case, I didn’t even have the shoulder strap, because it wasn’t long enough for me and had to be secured around my waist.  I still have difficulty believing I actually did this.  Then came the surprise.  Communicating with Hugh by means of the portable radio kit, I had the sense that this rather unusual man was in complete control of his element, which made me feel safe.  It is still not an experience I would wish to repeat, but the only slightly queasy moment I remember was when he directed me to look down onto the miniature cattle below.  Actually it was rather more than slight queasiness, but subsided somewhat once I refocussed on the top of my driver’s head.

Another tale from this era concerned our attendance at a show event in the grounds of Hugh’s father, the 7th Earl of Lonsdale. Willie, Viscount Whitelaw of Penrith, was one of the dignitaries I recognised within the secure palisade surrounding the area.

When wandering around, I passed the entrance to a marquee just as an elegant gentleman dashed out unable to avoid a collision. Thus I met the Consort of the late Queen Elizabeth II. Neither I nor Prince Philip was harmed in any way.

Hugh Lowther inherited the Earldom of Lonsdale on the death of his father in 2006.

Perhaps following the principle exemplified by the raising of the castle roof mentioned above, ‘In May 2014, in order to pay an inheritance tax bill, he placed Blencathra, a mountain in the Lake District, and the title “Lord of the Manor of Threlkeld” for sale.[5] Ultimately, Lowther found other means to pay the bill and withdrew the mountain from sale.[2][3]

[The 8th] Lord Lonsdale died on 22 June 2021, at the age of 72.[2] As he had no sons capable of inheriting his titles, the earldom passed to his half-brother Hon. William James Lowther (born 9 July 1957) who is the son of the 7th Earl by his second wife.[3][6]‘ (Wikipedia)