If you travel north almost as far as you can go before England ends and Scotland begins, you’ll find the Lake District. Requiring very little introduction, this iconic area, now designated a UNESCO world heritage site, has attracted and influenced poets and writers the world over so inspired were they by its clean air, vast dramatic wilderness and juxtaposed small world charm.
The rugged terrain is peppered with farmhouses, barns and sheep nestled amongst dry stone walls, (and other precarious places) clear streams and remote valleys that serve as natural breaks in the mountainsides. Traditional farming continues to define the landscape and there is nowhere better to escape for wild, untamed beauty. During the spring and summer months, the Lake District is a blanket of green but as the last warm days are savoured and autumn and winter close in, low mists hug the mountainsides and a blaze of burnt ambers, and ruddy browns transform the landscape with startling beauty.
When you speak to people about the Lake District, usually the first response is one of overwhelming admiration, immediately followed by ‘the weather’s terrible there’! With the country’s highest rainfall and dramatic weather changes from one moment to the next, the area usually lives up to its reputation as ‘unpredictable’! Consistent or erratic, spectacular or stark the sense of drama and beauty in the Lake District is heightened by the play of light and the textures and colour palette of nature; always soft and muted.
Despite its beauty, it is important to caution against over-romanticising life in the Lake District. The reality of cold winters and rugged rural life for contemporary hill farmers is a stark one. While locals continue to keep this traditional industry alive, this way of life is becoming harder and harder to sustain. Farmers exist precariously facing global market forces, selling their wool and meat products while at the same time diversifying their business with other ventures. Beyond traditional farming, tourism has long been the main source of income for the region with new creative propositions appearing all the time. Restaurants and eateries focussed on keeping it local with a sense of fresh modernity are creating a quiet culinary scene and impressive architectural proposals promoting sympathetic design relationships with nature bring a fresh, contemporary edge.
You don’t need to go far from the picturesque towns and villages in the valleys before you feel a sense of freedom in the storied mountains of the English Lake District and that's where you’ll find the real magic. The Lake District commands some of the world’s most unspoiled and otherworldly landscapes and being immersed in its unassuming beauty, even for a short while, leaves a lasting impression.
Our founder, Alli Abdelal grew up in the Lake District as the daughter of a mountaineer and she looks back on her childhood with a reflective nostalgia:
‘Winters could be long and miserable there but the rest of the time the Lake District was like a giant playground where we could play freely, explore and take risks. I grew up in a rural village of just eight houses roaming with a small pack of friends, building dens and climbing trees. There's a slowness and simplicity to life in the Lakes that is different to the breakneck pace of growth everywhere else and which has brought a whirlwind of change to every aspect of our lives. This beauty and simplicity is very much the inspiration for the brand and it's natural colour palette and the Herdwick wool that we source from there continue to define RUSKIN to this day.'