Grevel Lindop

Poet, biographer, critic, essayist and writer on just about everything

Tom Rawling: Rediscovering Ennerdale’s Poet

I’m just back from a visit to Ennerdale – one of the most beautiful and least changed valleys in Lakeland. BBC TV’s Countryfile had called to ask if I’d be filmed talking about Tom Rawling, the wonderful Ennerdale poet, beside How Hall,the farmhouse where he spent so much of his childhood. (The programme goes out on 19 Feb. 2012).

How Hall, the Ennerdale farm where Rawling spent much of his childhood

Rawling (1916-96) was a magnificent poet – perhaps Cumbria’s best 20th century poet in my view – and, though largely forgotten at the end of his life, he’s been undergoing a renaissance of appreciation since his poems were reissued by the Lamplugh and District Heritage Society in 2009. The name may sound parochial, but believe me Rawling is a fine and perhaps major poet, bringing to life in vividly textured words the farming life of an earlier generation, the landscape and the fishing. All of it, as you read, is gritty and real enough to get your hands on, and profoundly beautiful at the same time.

(Do email [email protected] and get hold of a copy of his poems – it’s only £7.50 and I’m sure will become a collector’s item in the future.)

I enjoyed meeting a very friendly BBC team, including producer Dean Jones and presenter Ellie Harrison, and despite the cameras, radio mics and freezing temperature we talked pretty spontaneously in the sunshine and open air, with a rich authentic odour of cow muck in the background (the farmer was manuring his fields at the time).


After filming I had a wonderful walk in the freezing air and bright sunshine around Ennerdale Water.

And the previous day, I’d taken time out to walk up in the snow to Bowscale Tarn, that amazingly dark, melancholy and beautiful place. I’ll put some pictures in here.


Snow on Haycock across Ennerdale Water; Angler's Crag in middle distance

Bowscale Tarn: a study in subtle blacks and whites just before sunset

5 comments to “Tom Rawling: Rediscovering Ennerdale’s Poet”

  • Declan


    Hi Grevel,

    just caught saw the piece on Tom Rawling on CountryFile – most enjoyable!


  • Grevel


    Thanks Declan – glad you enjoyed it. A remarkable place, and a remarkable man!

  • Grevel


    Thanks: (assuming yours is a genuine comment and not posted by a mechanical web-crawler – forgive the suspicion…) Besides the new collection of poems and memoirs from the address in my post, a few of the original volumes are also available on…

  • Bob Salter


    Hi Grevel. Thanks for your words. I walked past How Hall on holiday a few weeks ago and saw the sign saying Tom Rawling was born here. I googled his name and was intrigued and decided to buy a copy of “How Hall”, as a sort of souvenir of a lovely holiday…the Lake District weather was well behaved! I am not as a general rule of thumb a reader of poetry, as it seldom speaks to me unless cherry picked. Tom Rawling is the exception. I love the countryside and have lived all my life there. My grandfather was a farmer in Toms era. His poetry speaks to me clearly, with great clarity and above all with honesty. He deserves to be better known and hopefully articles like this will help bring that about. Regards Bob Salter.

  • Grevel


    Many thanks, Bob. Delighted you enjoyed the piece. I’m very keen that Tom Rawling should be better known: a fine poet who writes wonderfully about farming and the countryside. Tell your friends! Good to hear from you any time.

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