Burnmoor Lodge Club

Club Information

Club Aims

The aims set out by the Burnmoor Lodge Club

The Burnmoor Lodge Club was primarily set up in order to safeguard the future of Burnmoor Lodge and to increase its use. Though it has to be said that it is a rather ugly building, it would not become more attractive for a very long time if it was allowed to decay into a ruin. The Club's founder members are mostly people with a long history of visiting the Lodge, some for nearly 60 years. It is hoped that more people will be regularly involved in managing and maintaining Burnmoor Lodge, and that by increasing the membership of the Club, more people will book and visit it. The reasons people are fond of Burnmoor Lodge vary. For some, it is a base for much of the best hill walking in England, and for rock climbs and winter climbs. For some, it is the surrounding tarns, becks and gills that are the main attraction. It is also a place to potter about, or to do small or large maintenance projects. It is somewhere to recover from the stress and anxiety of life. All of us appreciate the location, the constantly changing lighting and atmospheric conditions, the remoteness from civilisation, the quietness. Early and late on a fine day, when the texture of the hills is picked out by the sun low in the sky, when most walkers are down in the valleys, there is a profound peace. At other times the weather is wild and Burnmoor Lodge provides shelter in the midst of wet and wind. The contrasting valleys of Eskdale, Wasdale and Miterdale are full of interest, and visitors to the Lodge experience them and the moorland in between in all seasons, at all times of day and night, and in all weather conditions. Out of these experiences come the aims of the Club:

  • to encourage appreciation of beautiful, wild and remote places;
  • to enable increased use of Burnmoor Lodge;
  • to maintain Burnmoor Lodge as a base for all kinds of activities which are in harmony with its surroundings;
  • to allow people the opportunity to improve their mental, spiritual and physical health by escaping for a while from the noise and busyness of their everyday lives;
  • to promote active enjoyment of the hills, including mountaineering, wild swimming, hill walking and photography;
  • to contribute positively to the local community and economy.

Club History

The history of the Burnmoor Lodge Club

The Burnmoor Lodge Club was born in 2012 from a long tradition going back to 1954, when Dr John Foote started to rent Burnmoor Lodge. He used it both for family holidays and for youth work. He was the leader of a youth group for teenage lads at St Paul's Church in Hyson Green, Nottingham. The youth group was affiliated to a national Christian youth organisation called the Covenanter Union – the name referred to the Bible, to the Old and New Testaments, or Covenants, and had nothing to do with the Scottish Covenanters of the 17th Century. John took members of the St Paul's Covenanters to Burnmoor for holidays, and also organised national Covenanter houseparties there. The teenagers who went on these holidays spent the days in hill walking, rock climbing, and swimming (and using a rubber dinghy), and the evenings included exploration of Christian themes. Many Covenanters from those days kept in touch with John in later years and attended his funeral in Sheffield in 2009.

John ceased active involvement with Burnmoor Lodge in the 1980s, and passed the ownership (he had bought the Lodge in 1960) to his son Jonathan in 1988. Various Covenanters, relatives and friends continued to use Burnmoor Lodge, and Jonathan managed and maintained it for the next twenty years or so. He had a great deal of help from some key people, notably Malcolm Nixon, a Quantity Surveyor based in Ilkley, and Andy Best with his Nottingham-based Venture Scout group and builder friend Jim Crane, plus various Burnmoor regulars. The efforts of all these people and more kept the Lodge in reasonable repair, but Jonathan had concerns about lack of insurance cover, particularly when volunteers were doing major building work, and about the level of use of the building and its future.

In 2011, an idea came to mind. Other similarly remote buildings were in use as mountaineering club huts. Would setting up a mountaineering club and affiliating to the BMC (British Mountaineering Council) give access to suitable insurance products and advice on legal requirements? A look at the BMC's website suggested the idea was worth pursuing. Jonathan began to sound out some of the regular Burnmoor Lodge users, and they generally seemed positive. In November 2011 an Open Meeting was held in Nottingham. Over 40 people attended and unanimously supported the setting up of a club. Some people expressed a little disquiet at the thought of it being a mountaineering club, as not all Burnmoor Lodge users consider themselves to be mountaineers, but they appeared to accept the argument that just getting to the Lodge meant they more or less counted, and that it was worth affiliating to the BMC for the benefits that would bring; and many of the prospective members do consider themselves to be hill walkers, rock climbers, winter climbers and mountaineers.

A Steering Group was set up, a Constitution written, an interim committee formed, a bank account opened, and the Burnmoor Lodge Club came into existence at the start of April 2012. Local taxation was transferred from Council Tax to Non-domestic Rates, and the BLC became affiliated to the BMC at the start of July 2012. By the AGM in November 2012, over 40 people had signed up as members of the BLC.

Since then, we have set the Club up as a company limited by guarantee and Burnmoor Lodge is now leased from the owner by the Club (at a peppercorn rent). The Club is a not-for-profit organisation run for the benefit of members and the wider public. Much progress has been made with repairs and improvements over the last six years, with a great deal of help and advice from John Noake, a local "retired" builder and longstanding member of Wasdale Mountain Rescue. John has done Gas Safe work to convert from butane to propane (stored outside), lent us scaffolding, patiently worked with inexpert assistance from volunteers, nearly all of whom have been club members, and greatly improved the Lodge roof and rainwater goods. This year's project (2019) is to completely re-roof the outhouse. Various other repairs and improvements have been tackled, including making the kitchen larger by removing the larder partition wall. Further improvements are in the pipeline.

Club Tradition

This article was written shortly before the Club was set up in 2012:

In setting up a Burnmoor Lodge Club, we need to consider what brings us together and our shared aims and experience. Clearly, it is Burnmoor Lodge itself which forms the common factor. All of us who are considering membership of the new club, and probably all who may wish to join the club in the future, have an experience and appreciation of the Lodge, or at the very least we have a close relationship with someone for whom that is true.Our experiences of the Lodge, however, are quite varied. Some of us go back to the very early days of John Foote's involvement. He already had a love of the Lake District, particularly the hills, and when he found out that Burnmoor Lodge was available for him to rent, sublet by the tenant Dr Stephens, he responded with characteristic enthusiasm. Not surprisingly, he immediately saw the potential for taking young people, some of whom were from disadvantaged backgrounds, to a beautiful and tranquil environment, where they could develop an appreciation for natural beauty, discover adventure, learn about the Christian faith, and mature spiritually. John was already heavily involved in youth work at his church, St Paul's Hyson Green in Nottingham, and ran a youth group which was affiliated to the Covenanter Union, a national Christian youth organisation. He saw the opportunity to take his own youth group members to Burnmoor, and also an opportunity to provide adventurous holidays open to teenage lads from all over the country. Those of us who remember those days, which extended from the mid fifties to the late seventies, with affection, naturally have a wish for a continuation of something of the tradition he developed.Others of us have a family connection with Burnmoor, having been taken there for family holidays from a very early age, or have been introduced to the particular delights [sic] of such an unusual and remote location through friends. We will all have enjoyed good company, and most of us will have had at least some good, or changeable, weather and responded to the landscape, the feeling of wildness, and the ever-changing lighting which at times is so uplifting. Some of us do not consider ourselves to be in any way “mountaineers”, but if we have visited Burnmoor Lodge we have walked across wild and rough ground and probably experienced some wild mountain weather. Some of us do consider ourselves to be, in varying degrees, mountaineers, and have sought out challenging climbs, walks and weather conditions. Among the non-mountaineering activities that have been undertaken at and around the Lodge are:

  • maintenance and building work
  • wild swimming
  • sunbathing
  • bible study
  • (temporary) dam construction
  • trips on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
  • camping
  • meals out and meals in (of widely varying standard!)
  • visits to local tourist attractions
  • astronomy

The club should allow and indeed welcome all of these activities, and more. Just as the Lodge has been visited in the past by a wide variety of people, so should this continue to be encouraged. These days it is much more difficult to involve groups of young people in adventurous activities, partly because of legislation and partly because of changing attitudes to risk. The club has to take note of higher standards and expectations of care. But where possible and appropriate, it would be good if the club could facilitate continued use of Burnmoor Lodge in the tradition started and developed by John Foote, without whom the Burnmoor Lodge Club would not exist.

Jonathan Foote