May 6, 2014, by Emma Thorne

Over hills and mountains: Nottingham students join Countryfile

It’s one of the most recognisable landmarks of the Lakeland Fells and could be yours for a cool £1.75 million. Blencathra mountain, also known as Saddleback because of its distinctive shape, has been owned by the Earl of Lonsdale’s family for 400 years but is now up for sale.

Its rugged beauty inspired poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and British fellwalker, guidebook author and illustrator Alfred Wainwright, but the BBC’s Countryfile heard this week how Blencathra is still playing a vital role in revealing Britain’s ancient geology to a new generation.

Staying at the residential centre on the Cumbrian mountain as part of a week-long field trip were students from The University of Nottingham’s School of Geography.

Lecturer Dr Nick Mount told the students: “Your job is to pull apart what is nearly 450 million years of history. Sketch this place — look out for lumps, bumps,  wiggles, things that we can interpret later on that might tell us some of the processes that have gone on in this place.”

Chatting to presenter Ellie Harrison, Dr Mount explained that by sketching the landscape students could look for clues in the landscape that tell its long-term story, which is critical in understanding how it looks today — in the case of Blencathra the powerful glaciers which carved out the valley 20,000 years ago.

So, taking into account the 450 million years of history on offer and the chance to be a custodian of such an important geological and geomorphological resource, that £1.75 million is starting to look like a bit of a bargain. Better start saving your pennies, Dr Mount!

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