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Cumbrian farming will be a big focus for a group of newly qualified tour guides trained to show off the very best the county has to offer. Fifteen of Cumbria's Blue Badge Tourist Guide class of 2022 graduated on Friday 2nd December after an intensive year-long period of study culminating in eight practical and written exams.

The ceremony was held at Rheged, Penrith. The newly qualified guides, adding to the

existing qualified guides, can now proudly claim to be able to cover the whole county, which

means that visitors’ wherever they are based, can access a local professionally trained

guide, from the West Coast, to the Eden Valley, from Morecambe Bay to Hadrian’s Wall.


Rheged was chosen as the location for the graduation ceremony as it is currently hosting the

Forty Farms Exhibition, a stunning pictorial record presented by Amy Bateman, a local

farmer and photographer.


“The choice of venue was no coincidence,” said Tess Pike, Course Director. “The Blue Badge

Guides have trained intensively for over a year gaining in-depth knowledge of topics

including History, Geography, Geology, Industry, Ecology, Local Cultural Traditions, Art,

Literature and Music. However, a major focus of the course has been current trends in

Agriculture.” Tourism and Agriculture are the backbone of the Cumbrian economy and

‘Cumbria's Best Guides’ feel that they have an important role to play in promoting and

supporting the local farming communities during a period of rapid change.


At the beginning of the course the students visited James and Catherine Hadwin at

Mansergh Hall Farm, Kirkby Lonsdale, learning about the challenges of declining subsidies,

cheaper imports, tenancy agreements, land management, and the need for diversification if

farms are to become self-sufficient and survive.


The students also visited Gowbarrow Hall Farm, Ullswater to learn about regenerative and

sustainable farming. They were also introduced to rewilding, ‘rewiggling’ of water courses,

changes to grazing patterns, the use of organic fertilisers, mob grazing and reducing sheep

in favour of cattle, fell ponies and pigs to reduce soil compaction and improve soil health.

Farmer Claire Beaumont said that “the Blue Badge Guides' visit created an incredible

opportunity to help educate the visitor about the regenerative approach to farming,

introduce tourists to the Lake District as a working landscape, explain the challenges and

help create a national awareness of the evolving solutions.”


A visit to Susan Aglionby’s farm in Houghton, east of Carlisle, revealed that the beating heart

of her farm was people. For more than 20 years she had given thousands of children a taste

of farm life and latterly the farm has become a refuge for some of Cumbria's most

vulnerable young people.


In August visitors from cruise liners docking at Barrow visited Nibthwaite Grange and Yew

Tree Farm near Coniston and were led by the Cumbria Blue Badge Guides during their

excursions. Farm visits such as these have long been a regular part of the Blue Badge Guide

visitor experience.


The Blue Badge graduates pictured are Lesley Angell, Jeff Appleyard, Sharon Arrowsmith,

Simon Blenkinsop, Richard Gasseling, Francis Hindhaugh, Gordon Lightburn, Sam Loveday,

Konomi Nagashima, Alison Pickering, Moira Steggles, Andy Wilkinson, Teresa Williams and

Jenny Wilson







Background Information Blue Badge Qualification

The Blue Badge Tourist Guide Qualification is designated by region and is achieved

after a 12-24 month training course that requires passing 7 rigorous examinations. 3

written exams, 1 on General UK Background Knowledge, 2 on Cumbria Knowledge. In

addition, there are 4 practical examinations, a town walking tour, place of worship,

museum and coach tour. Trainees are examined on their knowledge and practical

skills. A 3000-word tour-planning project relating to the area of qualification also has

to be submitted.


Background Information Cumbria Tourist Guides

Cumbria Tourist Guides is affiliated to the national membership association, the

British Guild of Tourist Guides, and the awarding body for the Blue Badge, the

Institute of Tourist Guiding. The Blue Badge Qualification was established in 1950

and is worn with pride by all guides when guiding within their areas of qualification.

The badge is a guarantee of quality, background knowledge and professional

conduct. All Guides also engage in Continuous Professional Development. There are

over 800 Blue Badge Tourist Guides in the United Kingdom, but only 34 qualified and

active in Cumbria.

Tour guides can be booked either through the ‘Contact a Guide’ facility on Cumbria

Tourist Guides’ website: www.cumbriatouristguides.org or via the website of the

British Guild of Tourist Guides: www.britainsbestguides.org


Background Information Cumbria Blue Badge Course

During the course of the training programme, in addition to lectures on history, geology,

farming, literature, art, industry, forestry, gardens, architecture and many more, trainees

visited many towns and villages of Cumbria including Kendal, Barrow-in-Furness, Grangeover

Sands, Cartmel, Whitehaven, Workington, Maryport, Allonby, Carlisle, Hadrian’s Wall,

Brampton, Alston, Penrith, Kirkby Stephen, Mallerstang valley, Orton, Kirkby Lonsdale,

Askham, Ulverston, Flookburgh, Broughton-in-Furness and Millom as well as the traditional

Lake District honeypots of Grasmere, Hawkshead, Keswick, Coniston, Ambleside and

Bowness-on-Windermere, Pooley Bridge and Glenridding.


Background Information Rheged

Rheged is a gallery, café, cinema, shopping venue, workplace and creative space on the

edge of the Northern Lakes. A place where friends, family and colleagues can share a meal,

watch a film, hold a meeting, see an exhibition, buy a gift or catch up over coffee. A flexible

space for getting together or enjoying time alone with a book or notepad; a place where

stories are told, ideas are sparked and the Cumbrian landscape is a constant source of

inspiration. ‘Rheged’ was the name of one of the kingdoms of the “Old North” during the

Early Middle Ages.

Background Information Forty Farms

Forty Farms was recently published by Inspired by Lakeland, written and photographed by

Amy Bateman, it focuses on Forty diverse farms throughout Cumbria. A special exhibition at

Rheged is running until January 4th 2023