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Isaac Wren

Isaac Wren

Ike (Isaac) Wren was born at Kirkland, but his family moved to Gillerthwaite when he was still very young so that his father could take work with the Forestry Commission as they began to plant up the Ennerdale Valley.

The job came with a small-holding which Ike’s father and brothers farmed to supplement the tree-planting. On one field, they grew their own potatoes and turnips, while the other was given over to the production of hay which would feed the animals through the winter.

Ike left school at 15 and worked on various mixed farms in the region, specialising as a ‘horse-man’. However, he also worked in the local quarry, drove lorries for a haulage firm and eventually ended up at Sellafield. It was later in life, while working shifts at Sellafield that Ike found he had time on his hands and started hill-walking.

Ike remembers Wood-cocks and Nightjars from his childhood spent playing on the fells and recalls how they disappeared as the afforestation progressed. He notes the changes to the landscape that the Spruce plantations have brought.

“I walked up with a mate who was here then from Australia on holiday -- walked all the way to Black Sail -- and I walked all the way up there and never saw a mountaintop, 'til we got to Pillar. You couldn't see them for the trees. And it wasn't like that when we lived there; you could go and see the mountaintops and everything on them like…”