The story behind Sitting Stone

I was involved in a brainstorming session on a proposed installation on the Ullswater Way to commemorate Alfred Wainwright, the renowned author of guidebooks to the Lakeland Fells. I suggested a special stone to sit on to enjoy the views and perhaps have a picnic. On that stone would be carved the outline of Ullswater (a large lake in Cumbria’s Lake District) and an appropriate quotation from Wainwright’s writings.

Out of that suggestion came the commission for Sitting Stone. The following quotation was selected: ‘that loveliest of lakes, UIllswater, curving gracefully into the far distance’. This would be carved around the profile of the lake. Two rounded hollows would also be carved to form comfortable seats.

The next stage was to get a suitable stone – a big stone! I had contacts with a lakeland quarry and managed to source a suitable ‘clog’ of Elterwater slate. Unfortunately if I wanted the quarry to dress the stone I would have to wait 2 years plus – so it was going to be down to me to fettle the stone – all one and half tonnes of it!

Here are some images of the stone being delivered to my place.

One of the nice things about writing is that you skip over the drudgery and hone in on the end product. So the next image (by Val Corbett) shows the outline of Ullswater done to 3 times the scale of the standard OS map.

The following images show the lettering and the sitting areas, suitably carved to fit most bottoms.

It is one thing carving such a piece, it is quite another getting it installed on the fells. We had hoped to use a helicopter, but the timing was not right, so we had to call on the skill of a local farmer. He managed with great delicacy to get it up the fells and place it in just the right spot so that those sitting on the stone would look out over the curving lake.

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©James Reynolds Sculpture 2017