Peace­ful mo­ments at our great­est war me­mo­rial

RE­MEM­BRANCE To com­mem­o­rate the Ar­mistice centenary, James For­rest climbs 14 peaks ded­i­cated to the sol­diers who gave their lives for free­dom

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Country Matters -

The Ceno­taph in Lon­don is 36ft tall. But this war me­mo­rial, the one I’m stand­ing on top of, is nearly a hun­dred times as high. It is the lofti­est of 14 ma­jes­tic mon­u­ments, each ded­i­cated to the brav­ery of our fallen heroes. Mon­u­ments forged by glaciers, not man; mon­u­ments made of cliffs and crags, not con­crete.

I’m in the Lake District, perched atop Scafell Pike, Eng­land’s high­est moun­tain. It is ex­actly 100 years since the Ar­mistice: the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. And I’m here to ex­plore the his­tory of the Great Gift: the en­dow­ment of 14 Lake­land fells to the na­tion, un­der the pro­tec­tion of the Na­tional Trust, as a per­ma­nent shrine to those who gave their lives in the 1914-1918 con­flict.

More than 100,000 peo­ple climb Scafell Pike an­nu­ally, es­pe­cially par­tic­i­pants in the Three Peaks Chal­lenge, but not many are aware of the moun­tain’s post-war sig­nif­i­cance. The Great Gift is lit­tle known.

It be­gan in 1919 when Lord Le­con­field be­queathed Scafell Pike to the na- tion in “per­pet­ual mem­ory of the men of the Lake District who fell for God and King, for free­dom, peace and right in the Great War”. Cas­tle Crag fol­lowed in 1920, do­nated by the friends and fam­ily of 2nd Lt John Hamer to com­mem­o­rate the men of Bor­row­dale. Then in 1923 the Fell and Rock Climb­ing Club ded­i­cated 12 sum­mits to free­dom: Ling­mell, Broad Crag, Great End, Seath­waite Fell, Allen Crags, Glara­mara, Kirk Fell, Great Gable, Green Gable, Base Brown, Bran­dreth and Grey Knotts. This vast swathe of up­lands was de­scribed at the time as the world’s great­est war me­mo­rial.

I am try­ing to climb all 14 me­mo­rial moun­tains over a long week­end. Day one will tick off seven peaks around Scafell Pike; day two will add six more, in­clud­ing the mighty Great Gable; and a re­lax­ing day three will con­clude with the dinky but de­light­ful Cas­tle Crag.

The ad­ven­ture starts bright and early on a Fri­day morn­ing, near Seath­waite, the wettest place in Eng­land. Mer­ci­fully it is dry. “So I packed my wet­suit for no rea­son,” says Tom, my brother and climb­ing buddy for the week­end, glanc­ing ner­vously at the path ahead. We have a 10-mile route in front of us, in­clud­ing al­most 6,000ft of

Sun­day 11 November 2018

Sun­day 11 November 2018

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.