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Dark memories of Foot and Mouth

Chris Jackson | 11:40 UK time, Monday, 14 February 2011

Rural road in Cumbria closed by Foot & Mouth outbreak

Whenever I cross the Pennines I try to take the A686 so I can reach the summit at Hartside.

When you travel East to West on a clear day you are suddenly presented with a glorious vista of Cumbria as you come over the top. The horizon spans from the Solway to the Lakes. It's magical.

However try as I might, I can't quite banish the flickering image of 2001 that lurks deep in the memory.

As a reporter on Look North I'd already seen first-hand the gruesome task of culling and burning livestock to try and eradicate the spread of Foot & Mouth.

I was driving to Keswick to take part in a special TV debate about the outbreak and how it was being handled by the government.

Instinctively I chose my favourite route. Yet nothing had prepared me for the view from Hartside during that crisis. I did actually weep.

1,904 feet above the surrounding landscape the scale of the slaughter was laid before me.

That day the air was eerily still, but the effect was chilling. The pyres had been lit on farms across the low lying fields. As far as the eye could see there were distinct columns of smoke drifting skywards.

It was as if I'd been taken back to medieval times. Some rampaging force had swept the county, pillaging each community and raising it to the ground as it went.

Having witnessed the emotions of farmers who'd had to stand helplessly by as their animals, many still healthy, were taken I knew that each plume of smoke represented terrible pain and heartache.

Seeing so many dark wisps hanging in the air brought home the sheer scale of what was happening below.

On Inside Out on Monday, 14 February 2011 we hear first-hand accounts of how the cost of that crisis is measured not just by numbers.

You can tot up the damage in pounds, pence and count the animals lost, but the lingering emotional scars don't appear on any spreadsheet.

Moira Linekar's story shows how even if you work through the emotions as best you can, ten years on it's still raw.

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We've more video clips on a special Inside Out webpage.

If you would like to add your own account of how the Foot & Mouth crisis affected you then please do add it as a comment to this blog.

Painted traveller's caravan

We meet John Greenwood who is reckoned to be the best caravan artist in Britain.

He paints the traditonal wagons used by travellers.

They've become something of a collectors item, not just amongst the gypsy community but celebs have taken the horse drawn carriages to their hearts as well.

We've compiled a special gallery of John's work on BBC Tyne.

And we follow ex paratrooper Al Hodgson from Cumbria as he overcomes more than most to become a world-beating skydiver.


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