As a major new documentary series is about to launch on TV, it’s time to think about the Lake District experience.
Let’s get down to some biological basics. ‘Experience’ is driven by the five senses: sight, taste, smell, hearing and touch. And when we have happy experiences, we release those endorphins and feel good.
Back in the early 1990s I was involved in a number of projects that Cumbria Tourism supported through a scheme called ‘Better than the Best’ using EU match funding. The hospitality offering back in those days was often on a par with Fawlty Towers and the Lakes Hospitality Association even had a Basil Fawlty look-a-like at one of their annual shows.
The new approach was to highlight the importance of investment in design, image and brand. The Lakes took off, more money was invested, and the scheme was a huge success. The understanding of investing in good design and the return on investment is now deeply engrained.
At the same time there was a growing awareness that the Lakes has a landscape – in some areas – ideal for growing and harvesting local produce. This became a natural area of growth and the idea of foraging from the land became eco-fashionable.
The ‘Taste District’ was born and has flourished, with visitors senses tantalised by wonderfully creative chefs using local produce and winning national acclaim with supremely artistic presentations on a plate, slate slab, or chunk of wood.
But then there’s the Lakes’ experience that’s completely free…and easily accessible. Walking, swimming, watching birds and badgers, just breathing the finest quality air: all appeal to our senses. And that’s where the new TV series scores.
The Lakes (BBC1, starting Friday July 20) is presented by Paul Rose, our neighbour in Windermere, but a man who has explored the whole world – and comes back to the very best, on home territory. It was a pleasure to be invited to the preview in Kendal at the Brewery Arts Centre.
This is a series with immense integrity, as well as appeals to all of our senses, and will motivate every viewer to get out there and experience our wonderful landscape. Paul Rose doesn’t trivialise the Lake District, as some recent shows have done, but he still manages to be both highly entertaining as well as knowledgeable.
He’ll take you up into the high fells, and out onto the water, and he’ll introduce you to some of the characters whose lives, history, tradition and artistry enhance the Lakes’ experience.
More than that, we’re not saying. You’ll have to watch and see for yourselves. Then get out there and let the Lakes hit all your senses.