Cumbria

Blencathra sale: Community groups bid to buy mountain

Blencathra Image copyright H&H Land and Property
Image caption Blencathra was described by writer Alfred Wainwright as "one of the grandest objects in Lakeland"

Community campaigns have been launched to buy a Lake District fell put up for sale by its owner who needs to settle a £9m inheritance tax bill.

Blencathra has been put on the market by the Earl of Lonsdale with an asking price of £1.75m.

The Friends of Blencathra group and Buy Blencathra are aiming prevent the mountain being sold to a foreign bidder.

Also known as Saddleback, it has been in the Earl's family for 400 years.

More than 1,500 people have become members of Friends of Blencathra on Facebook while the group's @helpblencathra Twitter account has more than 200 followers.

It is being led by Debbie Cosgrove, of Allerby, who works as a project manager for Allerdale Council in west Cumbria.

Image copyright H&H Land and Property
Image caption The Earl of Lonsdale must settle the inheritance tax bill by 2016

'Iconic' mountain

She said: "We're getting such a lot of interest with people pledging money.

"It would be a very sad day [if someone from overseas buys it]. They will have it on a piece of paper in their portfolio, but they may never come and walk on it.

"Blencathra is iconic. This is an opportunity for people in the local area to own a little piece of the Lake District."

The team behind it are holding a public meeting at Embleton Village Hall on Sunday which will be attended by co-operative enterprise experts.

The Friends are looking to establish a trust with community ownership.

Buy Blencathra, meanwhile, has more than 400 'likes' on Facebook. It is proposing donating the fell to the National Trust.

The Earl of Lonsdale, Hugh Lowther, said he placed the 2,676 acre plot on the market to settle the tax bill following his father's death rather than evict tenants and sell the properties.

The closing date for sealed bids is 2 July.

John Robson, of sales agent H&H Land and Property, said: "We've had an awful lot of hits on the website and the phones have been red hot.

"It will be interesting to see whether that turns into real interest in buying the mountain."

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