5 Minutes with Vivienne Crow

Vivienne Crow - outdoor writer and photographer Trails of the Unexpected - six walks exploring Cumbria Museum Consortium collections Gowbarrow view over Ullswater by Vivienne Crow

Introducing 5 minutes with… Vivienne Crow..

Who is… a freelance outdoor writer and photographer. As well as writing guidebooks, I produce features and walks for a variety of regional and national newspapers, magazines and websites. I usually focus on the landscape, heritage and culture of Cumbria. Over the years, I’ve also done a lot of interpretive work with various tourism and conservation bodies, producing leaflets and books on subjects as diverse as upland hay meadows and Beatrix Potter. I’ve recently been involved in the ‘Trails of the Unexpected’ project with the Cumbria Museum Consortium.

Tell us more…Trails of the Unexpected’ takes visitors out into the countryside to experience the landscapes associated with the collections in some of Cumbria’s top museums and galleries. So, for instance, one of the walking trails starts from Blackwell near Bowness-on-Windermere. Visitors wander through the rolling countryside beside the lake and, hopefully, discover the inspiration behind this gem of the Arts & Crafts movement. There are also walks around Kendal, Grasmere and Carlisle, and along a fascinating section of Hadrian’s Wall.

Why is this special to you… I love walking in Cumbria: it’s my work, but it’s also my passion. It was my main reason for moving here 20 years ago. And, as soon as you step out into the countryside of the Lakes, the North Pennines, the Solway coast, the Eden Valley, the Howgills, you quickly discover how everything around you has been shaped in some way by our cultural heritage. That’s part of the joy of walking here: understanding the history in the landscape and knowing whose footsteps you’re walking in.

What can audiences expect… There are six trails in total, ranging from two miles in length to just over five miles. They’re all fairly easy-going. Maps with easy-to-follow route descriptions can be downloaded or followed online.

‘Trails of the Unexpected’ takes visitors out into the countryside to experience the landscapes associated with the collections in some of Cumbria’s top museums and galleries

If you could name only 3 unmissable cultural hot spots or events in the Lakes – what would they be… Kendal Mountain Festival, because I love to hear about other people’s outdoor adventures; Keswick’s Words by the Water festival for its varied line up of inspiring speakers; although it’s not in the Lake District, Tullie House, because it’s great having such an excellent museum and gallery on my doorstep in Carlisle.

In a nutshell how would you describe the cultural offer in the Lakes… Diverse, fascinating and always surrounded by spectacular scenery.

And after a cultural adventure in the Lakes, where would be your ideal place to eat or stay… My favourite restaurant in Cumbria is probably the Old Stamp House in Ambleside. But I really love taking my camper-van down to Boot in Eskdale, having a day out in the valley or on the fells, and then returning in the evening for a meal at the Brook House Inn.

And we just have to ask… if you could choose one view in the Lakes where would that be… As you round the southern side of Gowbarrow, you’re suddenly greeted by a view up the dark waters of Ullswater towards the craggy Helvellyn range.

I don’t like to use the word ‘breathtaking’ too often, but this scene will truly take your breath away.

Gowbarrow view over Ullswater by Vivienne Crow
Gowbarrow view over Ullswater by Vivienne Crow

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// Trails of the Unexpected

The six walks have been developed by Cumbria Museum Consortium in association with award-winning writer Vivienne Crow, as a celebration of the artworks and artefacts of galleries, museums and historic houses in Cumbria as well as the well-known artists, writers and dynasties associated with them.

The trails are all available on the Trails of the Unexpected website

The walks can be viewed online smartphones and tablets or can be downloaded downloaded as pdfs including the route map and directions. The trails explore the collections of Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum; Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry, Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House and Abbot Hall Art Gallery.

Trails of the Unexpected - Cumbria Map
Trails of the Unexpected – Cumbria Map

To enjoy these Lakes Culture events and much more, book your break in the Lake District here