Delight in Smardale is tinged with regret for what is lost. Up on Crosby Garrett Fell, on Ravenstonedale Common, springs emerge and wend their way down to Scandal Beck to flow through Smardale east to the River Eden.
Smardale is many things- it’s a National Nature Reserve, Scandal Beck is an SSSI. Today, we’re reminded of its industrial archaeology, quarrying and heritage railway. The limekilns are hidden in scaffolding in a project to conserve and stabilize the kilns which were built circa 1860 to produce lime initially in construction of Smardale Gill Viaduct, then for steel making in Barrow and Darlington. They're part of a complex of industrial features which includes quarries, an inclined plane tramway and an engine house representing what was formerly a major commercial lime- producing operation.
At the Restoration in 1660, King Charles II founded The Royal Society. An early commission was a report on forestry. The Royal Navy was concerned that the demand for mature trees for timber ships was devastating England's forests. The need for sustainability was recognised in John Evelyn's Sylva, a book which resulted from this commission.
In his book Material World, Ed Conway considers the commodities which shape our lives in 21st century. The material for silicon chips comes from a sole source, the Spruce Pine Mine in the Blue Ridge Mountains, USA. Salt flats in the deserts of Chile, the foothills of the Andes, can be seen from space as the lithium brine beneath the salt is extracted to make lithium batteries. These are finite resources although lithium batteries in disposable vapes are discarded as if there were no tomorrow
The Story team working on the viaduct are delayed by an unusually wet July and August. We hope they will be respectful of butterfly habitat hereabouts, and of trees. We haven’t stood idly by whilst Story has felled trees at scale and without justification in Kendal but, so far, it has been impossible to protect an environment we cherish.