Many thanks to Friends of the Lake District for organising a fascinating exercise about connecting with Lake District landscapes. We were asked to identify the various elements of a landscape and to consider their effect on us. What were the dominant features? How did the landscape made us feel? What issues might threaten that landscape? We also considered various aesthetics − scale, textures, colours, diversity, etc − and how we reacted to each.
This exercise was designed to test our sensitivities to the environment, and afterwards it made me think of Henry David Thoreau (the American philosopher, naturalist and thinker).
In 1845, Henry decided to leave his home and go and live in the woods at Walden Pond. He constructed a rudimentary cabin surrounded by trees but away from the lakeshore with its stunning views. It seems he deliberately chose not to look out on an awe-inspiring scene but to immerse himself in his immediate woodland surroundings and enjoy a closer connection with nature as a result.
Others would have built their cabin right on the lake shore to enjoy the view. For me, Thoreau’s decision posed questions about how we react to the environment. Are you essentially an ‘immersive’ or a ‘majestic’ person – in other words, do you like to wander deep into landscapes that envelop you, or do you prefer to take in the splendour of a breath-taking view? Or maybe you enjoy doing both?
So, next time you’re walking in the Lake District (or anywhere else for that matter), have a think about your relationship with the landscape around you. How do you connect with the landscape and how does it makes you feel.
Find out more about how connecting with Lake District landscapes on a guided tour of Ullswater at https://discoverlakeland.uk/lake-district-guided-tours/