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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Thousands back campaign to buy Blencathra

Thousands of people are backing the campaign to raise nearly £2 million to buy Blencathra and safeguard its future.

Blencthra meeting photo
The first meeting of the Friends of Blencathra at Embleton Village Hall

More than 100 people turned out at the first public meeting of a campaign group trying to keep the iconic Lakeland peak in Cumbrian ownership.

And campaigners are hoping for face to face talks with the Earl of Lonsdale, Blencathra’s current aristocratic owner who’s put it on the market for £1.75m, plus VAT, to help play an inheritance tax bill.

Yesterday’s public meeting at Embleton, near Cockermouth, was organised by the Friends of Blencathra, formed just a week ago after it emerged that the earl was selling the peak.

One of the campaign’s key players, Allerby woman Debbie Cosgrove, is trying to arrange a meeting with him following comments that he would give preference to a community group trying to buy the mountain.

She says she’s been overwhelmed by the early response reaction to the campaign.

“In every direction people are offering support for us – not just now, but for the long term,” she said.

Ms Cosgrove said the campaign was two-pronged – firstly, to get the money needed to make a bid for Blencathra and secondly, to look to its future and ensure it remains one of Cumbria’s prized assets for hundreds of years to come.

The campaign sparked off with a comment from her that if everyone paid £10 they could save the mountain from ownership from outside Cumbria.

There was standing room only at yesterday’s meeting in Embleton Village Hall.

The group has agreed to form a steering committee which would look at the best way forward. It is likely that a co-operative of some kind will be formed.

The steering committee will also look at options including buying the mountain and handing administration and maintenance to the Lake District National Park Authority.

Ms Cosgrove said the interim group would be contacting every body involved or affected by the sale of the mountain including the national park, National Trust, parish councils and farmers whose livestock graze on the mountain.

No money will be accepted until the trust is formed but anyone wishing to express interest or to offer pledges can do so on the Friends or Blencathra Facebook page which now has more than 5,600 members.

People also posted on Twitter following yesterday’s meeting.

One man tweeted: “Excellent meeting today Friends of Blencathra. Astounding progress. Well done.”

Carolyn Otley wrote: “Great turnout for this afternoon's Friends of Blencathra meeting.”

Cathrine Carr Glass tweeted: “Thanks for a brilliant and informative meeting. Well done!”

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