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Majorie Thorburn and Muriel Hugh

Majorie Thorburn and Muriel Hugh

Marjorie and Muriel are sisters, born in 1929 and 1932 respectively, who have lived in the Thornthwaite area most of their lives. They have witnessed tremendous changes in the Whinlatter area due to the drainage and afforestation programmes there and recall the wildlife and flora of the region before the forests grew up.

They tell of the Hay meadows that used to be farmed around Thornthwaite and the hedgerows, many of which have been replaced by fencing.

Marjorie remembers collecting moss to make pressure-pads for soldiers in the war and rose hips to make syrup, while Muriel talks of gathering bleaberries on Seat How which her mother would sell in nearby Keswick.

Muriel also recalls the heather that used to colour the nearby fells purple and how it was managed by the farmers who kept their sheep up there.

The sisters remember the Italian prisoners of war who were employed in draining the fells before the large scale planting began and describe how the process changed the face of the fells so dramatically.

“well the fell side was covered in bleaberries and heather, but now you can only see patches now and again because they have planted all these trees now so there is nothing that can grow now underneath the trees. But it used to keep all the families out of Braithwaite and Thornthwaite village out picking them all... it was a extra income, helped to supplement the wages.”