Jane Cooksey reflects on an everchanging landscape and the lives of a small community in the Lake District

My village that I love My village, my sweet home Where my father, mother and family live It’s not easy to forget it It’s so hard to be away My peaceful, friendly village I miss it every dayVillage Life by Danielle Wright 

HOW DOES any community big or small cope with such huge changes to everyday life? Villages, towns and cities globally are all having to drastically change how they work, socialise, communicate and exercise, but on the plus side the good old war derived ‘spirit’ of pulling together seems to be prevalent in every single country.

No fish and chips for the foreseeable future

Even in a small Cumbrian village changes can be seen, not just in people’s lives, but also in the landscape and the environment.  The sky is clearer, and birdsong louder; nature carries on as if nothing has happened. In fact, it seems to be thriving – there is no ‘lockdown’ for Mother Nature. 

Cumbrian Way signpost

Signposts showing the Cumbrian Way and other faraway destinations are now redundant as we can only go out and exercise close to home and there are no visitors or tourists. Beauty spots, which are normally full of people walking, cycling and having picnics, especially at the weekends, are now deserted, the beauty made more poignant by the eerie absence of noise from chatter, cars, bikes or planes. The sounds of nature seem even louder and more strident – new-born lambs bleating for missing mothers or just frolicking together in the Spring sunshine, and the lazy droning of bees combined with a cacophony of birdsong.

Broughton is quite a social village. It has a high ratio of pubs for such a small place, all of which were always busy, especially ‘early doors’ with a regular clientele who met every afternoon for a drink and chat. 

Broughton square, once a hive of activity around the Obelisk

When it was sunny a lot of the villagers could be found sitting in the village square around the Obelisk, drink in hand swapping stories, having political debates and just general gossip with the ever-present background sound of laughing children running round and round the square playing hide and seek, annoying and making people laugh in equal measures. This lack of noise extends to the empty school playground during the day and the silent swings and zipwire in the deserted play park in the afternoons and at weekends. 

The square’s café, sadly closed for business

The square’s café is another village social institution where people of all ages meet for morning coffee, lunches or afternoon tea, and talk about the weather, ailments or just a good old gossip. It was therapy for some and a meeting of minds for others , with the hustle and bustle of a busy café bringing a happy respite to those living in solitude.

Village pond | © Colin Robertshaw

The square is now silent, the pub and café doors are closed and barred, and the only sounds to be heard are that of the odd barking dog and the church bell regularly chiming the hour. 

Featured image | Child’s swing alone in the landscape | Images © Jane Cooksey

Jane Cooksey is a keen adventurer, which is convenient as her husband Andy is, too. She is a climber, mountaineer and skier, and loves exploring new places.  She has had quite a few big trips exploring America, Canada and Australia, plus many remote parts of Europe as well as most of the UK. She has her own PR company (Real PR Outdoor – www.real-pr.com) specialising in outdoor brands, and in recent years has started freelance writing for various outdoor and travel publications.