Newsworthy – but at what price?

The past week has seen a couple of incidents that have not been ‘very nice’ to put it mildly. On 7th June, the iconic Queen’s Head Hotel in Troutbeck suffered a huge fire, and on 13th June, a man died after taking part in the Great North Swim. These events seem doubly unfortunate because they happened whilst people were feeling carefree and enjoying themselves.

It was probably late afternoon when Hubby reported hearing fire engine sirens blaring away. Then, a few minutes later, one of our son’s friends texted him and said that there was a fire at the Queen’s Head. Hubby and I turned quizzical looks on each other: we could not believe our ears! There were 50 people at the Queen’s Head when the fire broke out, and up to 57 fire fighters from 10 Cumbrian fire stations fought the blaze. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Firefighters fought a huge fire at the Queen's Head Hotel on 7th June 2104.  (Credit: ITV.)

Firefighters fought a huge fire at the Queen’s Head Hotel on 7th June 2104. (Credit: ITV.)

The Queen’s Head in Troutbeck is not far from us – possibly a 10-15-minute drive, and we have eaten at their restaurant a couple of times. It is an olde worlde kind of place, built about 300 years ago as a coaching inn and ‘was once used as a rest and watering place for the worn out, thirsty horses hauling wagons to the summit of the nearby austere Kirkstone Pass. The annual village mayor-making ceremony is now held at the inn. The ceremony dates from 1780, when a ‘Hunting Mayor’ was annually elected. The tradition was once widespread in Cumbria, but is still kept alive at Troutbeck.’ (

troutbeck valley lake district

The verdant Troutbeck Valley, where lies the village of Troutbeck. (Photo by Dave Willis, courtesy of

The other sad thing that has happened in the Lake District this week just past is the death of a 52-year old man who was attempting the Great North Swim. Hubby had seen a helicopter from our house as it headed towards the swimming meet on Lake Windermere. As our guest house is in Bowness-on-Windermere, the swim event was no more than three miles from our B&B, Blenheim Lodge.

That weekend, three of the organisers of the meet  were staying over at our place, so we asked whether if someone had suffered difficulties. Imagine our horror when we learnt later that someone had actually lost his life after taking part in the swim. According to reports, the man died from a ‘medical emergency’ in hospital.

This is not the first time that someone has suffered difficulties or lost his or her life during the Great North Swim. As a result, in 2011, the Westmorland Gazette reported that ‘EXPERTS have called for people to get medical checks before entering Britain’s largest outdoor swim – after it left one man dead and another seriously ill.’ Perhaps this is a good idea, as it would help people to decide whether they are fit to swim the freezing open waters of Lake Windermere or not before signing up for this charity event.

great north swim, lake windermere, lake district

Swimming in Windermere for the Great North Swim. (Photo courtesy of

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