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The Marron is a river that rises in the fells around Cogra Moss, north of Ennerdale. It flows in a northerly direction to eventually meet the River Derwent between Cockermouth and Workington. Amongst the abundant birdlife it is possible to see kingfishers, dippers, wagtails and heron. Otter hunt for trout in the water, while tawny owls hunt for rodents in the woods along the riverbank. The healthy population of red squirrels is encouraged by local residents handing out hazel nuts, a diet which they supplement by robbing eggs from bird nests.
‘Stories of Cumberland & Westmorland’ is a series of pieces influenced by the landscape and heritage of the area where I was born. The county of Cumbria is a place of spectacular mountains and lakes, much loved by visitors to the National Park, but it is also a region with an extensive and beautiful coastline of sand and shingle beaches and tall sandstone cliffs. In between the mountains and the coast is the Solway Plain, a fertile area of land where I grew up on a farm. The uninterrupted view from my childhood bedroom looked out over miles of fields and copses towards Criffel, the mountain whose dark outline dominated the Southern Scottish coastline across the Solway Firth. Looking out from our home in the other direction I could see Skiddaw, one of the four highest fells of the Lake District. Skiddaw is a mountain that draws the attention from almost all directions (apart from the East). It looks down upon a rich past of human history from the Roman occupation to the mineral miners of Tudor times and beyond; from the Viking settlements of the tenth century to the nineteenth century environmental agitators who fought hard to conserve the wild mountain landscape. The surviving manuscript record of music compiled by Cumbrian musicians of the past, kept in archives in a few notebooks and scraps of paper, has been my starting point in getting to grips with this human history and creating music of my own.