Monthly Archives: April 2023

Alex McManus 1931 – 2023

Alex McManus – Cam High Road, 2 May 2011.

It is with great sadness that we heard the news of the death of our friend and former long-term Footpaths Officer Alex McManus, who died at the end of March aged 92.

Alex first joined the DWA committee in 2003 and became Footpaths Officer in 2005. He also served as Newsletter Editor from 2010 to 2014 and turned his hand to a number of other roles, including Minutes Secretary for a while.

He helped steer the Association through two major crises – in 2008 and 2012, when the DWA faced closure. As Footpaths Officer he was particularly busy following the disastrous floods in the winter of 2015, when several bridges and sections of the path were swept away. Alex worked tirelessly to help walkers find their way around detours, in some cases engaging in a spot of guerrilla waymarking.

Over the years, through his dedication, hard work and persistence, he built up the respect and admiration of many of the local authority Rangers who look after the trail.

Alex retired from active duty in 2018, and was unanimously awarded a “Honorary Life Membership” certificate at the AGM in October.

The presentation was made by the chairman of the Dales Way Association, Colin Speakman, at a special lunch attended by most of the DWA committee near Harrogate in November 2018.

Colin said: “Alex is one of the heroes of the Dales Way. For so many years he has been our tireless Footpath Secretary, doing great work working with all the local authorities along the Dales Way to ensure that stiles, gates and bridges were in good order, waymarks were in the right place and problems sorted as soon as possible, not to mention his work as a great ambassador for the route, in person and on his DVDs. In making him only our second Honorary Life Member in our history (the first was the legendary cartographer Arthur Gemmell) the Dales Way Committee is merely recognising his outstanding achievement over so many years”.

Alex will be sadly missed.

Westmorland Rises from the Ashes

On April 1st 1974, at the stroke of a pen, the ancient county of Westmorland disappeared, along with the adjoining county of Cumberland. They were replaced by Cumbria.

New Westmoland and Cumberalnd boundaries.

The old county town of Appleby, in a defiant move, renamed itself Appleby-in-Westmorland.

Now, almost 50 years later, Westmorland is back.

As of 1 April 2023, Cumbria County Council was abolished. As were the councils of Allerdale, Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle City, Copeland, Eden District, and South Lakeland District.

Cumberland Council has since taken over the area previously covered by the Allerdale, Carlisle City, and Copeland authorities.

Meanwhile, Westmorland and Furness Council is in charge of the area formerly covered by Barrow-in-Furness, Eden District, and South Lakeland District authorities.

The boundaries are not exactly the same – around a quarter of historic Cumberland around the town of Penrith is in the new Westmorland and Furness council.

Cumbria will remain as a “ceremonial” county and the name will remain in the names of various organisations such as the police force.

Lord Eric Pickles, who championed traditional counties during his time as communities secretary, said: “This is great news. People live in Cumberland and Westmorland – they don’t live in Cumbria. Cumbria was a creation of the madness of the 1970s when politicians and bureaucrats decided people live in different places.”

The Dales Way passes through Westmorland in it’s final stages, taking in Sedbergh and Windermere.