Cumbria Crack

National Trust reveals hidden histories for Heritage Open Days

National Trust ranger Penny Webb shares the results of archaeological research with people on a guided walk at Thorneythwaite farm, Borrowdale. Credit National Trust Images / Rob Grange

The public will be able to get a glimpse into the stories that lie beneath the surface of the northern Lake District on a series of free guided walks led by National Trust rangers in September, new for this year. For Heritage Open Days, 14-22 September 2019, there is a different guided walk every day, led by the rangers who live and work in the valleys near Keswick, Cockermouth and Cleator Moor.

Each walk covers a different area and a different topic and will enable people to have a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes work that the conservation charity does to look after the landscapes in its care, a celebration of ‘people power’, the theme of this year’s Heritage Open Days.

Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of history and culture; in 2018, over 5,500 events welcomed more than three million visitors across the country. Heritage Open Days is coordinated and promoted nationally by the National Trust with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Every single Heritage Open Days event is free, including access to many sites that usually charge for admission. For details and opening times, visit

Normally Heritage Open Days involve free access to a building that isn’t usually open to the public, and this is the case as the processing mill at Force Crag Mine will be open all day for free guided tours on Sunday 22 September. It was the last working metal-ore mine in the Lakes before it closed, now the wind whistles through this atmospheric ‘tin shed’ in its dramatic setting beside the waterfall at the head of Coledale, a testament to human ingenuity and resilience.

In addition, for the first time this year, the 25th year of the Heritage Open Day festival, guided walks in open countryside are included as part of the programme in the North Lakes.

“I love walking in the Lakes with one of our ranger team” said Jessie Binns, Visitor Experience and Engagement Manager for the National Trust in the North Lakes. “The fact that they’ve lived and worked in this landscape for so many years means I always end up learning something new, so when they suggested leading guided walks for Heritage Open Days it felt like something we should definitely do”.

“For me, going on a guided walk is like being able to see beneath the beautiful surface of the view to see new layers of meaning. The rangers are so passionate about the work they do to protect these beautiful and special places, it’s a real treat to see the Lake District World Heritage Site through the filter of their years of knowledge and experience.”

A different walk takes place each day in Ennerdale, Buttermere Valley, Borrowdale and on the Whitehaven Coast. They cover a wide range of topics from archaeology to river management, hydro power and nature-friendly farming practices. The walks vary in length – most are half-day walks of just 2-3 miles, but some are full-day excursions. Tickets are free, but places are limited and can be booked in advance via