The Lake District man who tried and failed to sell a mountain

For many, the somewhat recent attempt to sell a Lake District mountain will live long in their memories.

Absurd? Enraging? Most definitely for a lot of locals.

But not for the man who tried to sell the iconic landmark, Blencathra, standing 868 metres tall overlooking the beautiful landscape that is the Lakes.

It was in May 2014 that aristocrat the Earl of Lonsdale, Hugh Lowther, listed the whole geographical peak on the market with a guide price of £1.75million.

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This was to help Hugh pay a huge inheritance tax bill totalling £9million following the death of his father James Lowther, 7th Earl of Lonsdale.

Back then, Hugh – who died last month at the age of 72 on June 22 – said it was the only choice for himself and his wife Lady Lonsdale.

At the time, he said he had to either sell the mountain or divide up his Lonsdale Estate that had been in his family for centuries.

This was also to stop forcing people from their homes in the sales, he said.

“We don’t want to make inroads into the core of the estate,” Hugh told the BBC at the time.

Blencathra, a 2,850ft (868m) high peak that imposes itself across the Northern Fells in the Lake District. The Earl of Lonsdale, Hugh Lowther, tried to sell it for £1.75 million in an attempt to pay off a hefty tax bill
Blencathra, a 2,850ft (868m) high peak that imposes itself across the Northern Fells in the Lake District. The Earl of Lonsdale, Hugh Lowther, tried to sell it for £1.75 million in an attempt to pay off a hefty tax bill
(Image: Handout/PA Wire)

“And we don’t want to have to evict tenanted farmers and other tenants and what have you from their houses so we can sell them.”

When discussing the sale, he also told The Daily Telegraph that he hoped “there will be some daft Russian [who wants it] to show off”.

Along with Blencathra – or Saddleback to many locals – the buyer would also taking on 5,471 ewes, 732 hoggs and 200 lambs in a move that would have seen them called Lord of the Manor of Threlkeld.

Locals rallied together to buy the mountain, with the Friends of Blencathra raising around £245,000.

But after two years, the Earl took the mountain off the market with a serious buyer yet to be found.

Around 70% of the £245,000 was donated to charity with other funds transferred to charitable organisations, mainly Keswick Mountain Rescue Team, Fix the Fells (in partnership with the National Trust), Friends of the Lake District, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, and Mountain Heritage Trust.

Following Hugh Lowther’s death, the earldom has passed to his half-brother William James Lowther, with whom he shared the same father.

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