SPAB Scholars: 110km, 16 churches, four days and three sketchbooks

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As our Scholarship programme was sadly postponed, the SPAB scholars for 2020 - Amy Redman, Libby Watts and Lucy Newport - sought to find some spirit of the experience in a new challenge: a fundraising hike from the south to north Lakes. It provided them with the opportunity to spend time together, explore the vernacular buildings of Cumbria and raise funds for the 2021 Scholarship.
Beginning our journey at St Paul’s in Witherslack, our first morning took in the limestone landscape of the southern lakes, pausing for coffee and sketches at St Anthony’s, Cartmel Fell and St Mary’s, Staveley-in-Cartmel. By lunchtime, the heavens had opened, but a warm lunch awaited us under the Lych Gate of St Peter’s in Finsthwaite, before a wet afternoon along the west side of Lake Windermere. Arriving late and completely drenched, we were lucky to find that Elizabeth, warden of St Peter’s, Sawrey, was still awaiting our arrival with hot drinks and biscuits. We finished the day at the YHA in Hawkshead, drying off over the log burning stove in our tipi.
Across the fields the next morning, we arrived at St Michael and All Angels in Hawkshead, largely dating from the 16th century with wonderful painted scripture covering the interior.
Our next stop was John Ruskin’s grave at St Andrew’s in Coniston; a beautiful carving of natural elements and motifs associated with Ruskin's life and works. An afternoon exploring the copper mines and slate quarries took us north to Little Langdale, where finally, we found the sun. Holy Trinity Church, Brathay, was our last sketching stop before arriving at our hostel in Ambleside.
By day three, the blisters and bad knees had become well developed. A gentle morning’s walk up the valley was welcome, with stops at St Mary’s in Ambleside, St Mary’s in Rydal and finally, the 2019 John Betjeman Award winner, St Oswald’s in Grasmere. The project won the award for works removing the 20th-century strap pointing and cement render on the tower, careful stone stitching of historic ringing cracks and application of a hot mixed lime render and lime wash overcoat. After a long walk over Helm Crag, we eventually made it down the wet rocks to Borrowdale after dark, indebted to our head-torches (essential packing for next year).
Our final day began at St Andrew’s, Borrowdale, before walking to Grange, where we managed to fit in five-minute sketches of both Holy Trinity and the Methodist Church. A final push to get over Hause Gate to Littletown, to find the idyllic Newlands Church entertaining its first wedding in six months. St Kentigern’s at Crosthwaite was a beacon of joy as we stumbled to the finish line following another heavy downpour.
Many thanks to Scholars Paul Crosby, Chloe Granger, Declan Cahill and Naomi Hatton for meeting us along the way, and the churchwardens who kindly met and opened the churches for us along the route. Our JustGiving page is still open should you wish to support the 2021 SPAB Scholarship. We are so grateful for all the generous donations made so far and would like to thank all those who have supported us through the difficult interim.

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