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