IAT Presents at England’s Cook Museums

On September 16 & 17, IAT Chairperson Paul Wylezol was in England visiting the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby and Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in Marton.  While there he gave a presentation on the 250th Anniversary of James Cook completing his surveys in Eastern Canada, most noteably in Newfoundland.   In the coming years, James Cook 250 will a unique opportunity for the IAT and partner UK National Trails to promote their natural and cultural heritage across the North Atlantic and South Pacific. The visit began … where else? … checking into the Endeavour pub with accommodations in Whitby.

The pub is located just around the corner from the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, which is housed in the 17th century Walker House on Grape Lane. The harbourside house owned by Captain John Walker was where the young James Cook lodged as an apprentice and trained as a seaman. It has a large courtyard overlooking the harbour, where Whitby colliers were once built and set sail for trade in the North and Baltics Seas. It stands 3-stories, with the ground floor furnished according to an inventory of 1754 and the other two floors containing exhibits of Cook related maps, paintings and other artifacts.

Paul was given a tour of the museum by Sophie Forgan, Chairperson of Trustees

(L-R) Trustee Chairperson Sophie Forgan, Paul Wylezol & Chairman of Management Committee Peter Brown

before giving a presentation in the new reception area adjacent to the entrance. In addition to maps showing Cook’s survey work in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador it also included excerpts from Memorial University of Newfoundland (Grenfell Campus) History Professor Olaf Janzen’s recent paper entitled The Significance of James Cook’s Newfoundland Years.

From Whitby, Paul travelled to the nearby Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in Marton. The modern museum is located in Stewart Park near the city of Middlesbrough and was built near the location of Cook’s birthplace cottage. It opened October 28, 1978 on the 250th Anniversary of the explorer’s birthday. It houses a variety of exhibits, from Cook’s childhood and formative years in England to his navy and surveying years in Eastern Canada and three voyages of discovery to the Pacific Ocean. Cook’s five years surveying the vast and remote coastline of Newfoundland is recognized as ideal preparation for his role of leading the 1768 voyage to the Pacific to witness the transit of Venus.

As in Whitby, Paul’s presentation focused on Cook’s time in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador and the 2017 James Cook 250 Anniversary celebration planned by the IATNL and Western Newfoundland’s Cabox Aspiring Geopark, to coincide with the 150th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. After the presentation and Q&A, Paul went on a walking tour of the grounds with Senior Museum Curator Phil Philo and IAT partner Cleveland Way National Trail Manager Malcolm Hodgson, who helped arrange the visit and presentations. Many thanks to Phil and the staff at the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, as well as Sophie, Peter and the staff at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby, for the warm welcome and opportunity to present the 250th Anniversary story of Cook in Eastern Canada.

(L to R) Malcolm Hodgson, Paul Wylezol and Phil Philo

Many thanks also to Malcolm and Memorial University of Newfoundland (Grenfell Campus) History Professor Olaf Janzen for contributing his recent Cook in Newfoundland paper.  We hope to see you all again in 2017! For more on the story, go to love Middlesbrough blog.

Celebrating a National Treasure – Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument

On August 24, U.S. President Barack Obama used his executive authority to create the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument on land donated to the federal government by entrepreneur and conservationist Roxanne Quimby.  More than 87,500 acres of forestland in Maine’s fabled North Woods was designated in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service, in a historic but unilateral decision following years of bitter debate.

The new national monument – which will be managed by the National Park Service – will include “the stunning East Branch of the Penobscot River and a portion of the Maine Woods that is rich in biodiversity and known for its outstanding opportunities to hike, canoe, hunt, fish, snowmobile, snowshoe and cross-country ski. In addition to protecting spectacular geology, significant biodiversity and recreational opportunities, the new monument will help support climate resiliency in the region. The protected area – together with the neighboring Baxter State Park to the west – will ensure that this large landscape remains intact, bolstering the forest’s resilience against the impacts of climate change.”

A map of Maine’s north woods region showing the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. (Michael Fisher and Portland Press Herald)

“Following years of support from many local and state elected officials, tribal leaders, businesses and members of the public across the state, this designation will build on the robust tradition of growing the park system through private philanthropy, and will reinforce the need to continue protecting our great outdoors as we enter the second century of the National Park Service.  The land has been donated to the Federal Government by philanthropist Roxanne Quimby’s foundation, Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., facilitated by the National Park Foundation as part of its Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks. In addition to the donation of the land, the approximately $100 million gift includes $20 million to supplement federal funds for initial park operational needs and infrastructure development at the new monument, and a pledge of another $20 million in future philanthropic support.”

Roxanne Quimby donated 87,500 acres and advocated for its designation as a national monument.

With the stroke of a pen, Obama created the second national monument in Maine history after Acadia National Park’s precursor – on land east of Baxter State Park in an area facing severe economic uncertainty. The move is likely to delight conservation activists and infuriate local opponents fearful the designation is trading potential industrial-based opportunities in the Katahdin region for mostly seasonal tourism jobs. While organizations such as the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce hope it will lure more tourists and create jobs, opponents warned it could further destabilize a forest products industry struggling to rebound from the closure of the Millinocket and East Millinocket paper mills. Many others have mixed views, seeing significant jobs potential but not in the industry that was once the backbone of the region. Nevertheless, the designation is a substantial yet partial victory for Roxanne Quimby, the wealthy co-founder of the Burt’s Bees product line whose nonprofit, Elliotsville Plantation Inc., donated the land to the federal government this month. Quimby has pushed for years for a full-fledged national park in the North Woods but sought a lesser monument designation because it did not require congressional approval.  On August 28, she was joined by Lucas St. Clair and his twin sister Hannah Quimby to host a grand celebration on the shores of Millinocket Lake at New England Outdoor Center’s Twin Pine Camps. The Natural Resources Council of Maine, The Wilderness Society, The Pew Charitable Trust, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Conservation Lands Fund joined Roxanne, Lucas, and Hannah in thanking everyone who contributed to securing the designation of the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument by President Barack Obama. IAT Maine’s Don Hudson, Phine Ewing, Walter Anderson, Elaine and Eric Hendrickson, Lindsay and Michael Downing, Mark and Susan Adams, Bart DeWolf, former board member Eric Horschak, Aaron Meguier, Terry and Craig Hill, and numerous other IAT members and friends were on hand to bask in the great excitement and appreciation sparked by the Quimby family’s generous gift — the largest gift to the people of the United States since the days of John D. Rockefeller and Paul Mellon. The New England Outdoor Center’s Matt Polstein welcomed nearly 300 people to the formal gathering, looking out across Millinocket Lake to Katahdin, shortly after 5:00 pm. Sunday, August 28th. The highlight speeches were made by Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell and Liliane Willens. Secretary Jewell spoke about the significance of the gift to the nation, the importance of land such as this to the health and well-being of all Americans, and the special qualities of the land — the East Branch of the Penobscot, the hiking opportunities — especially the IAT, and the richness of the geologic heritage.

Mount Katahdin seen from New England Outdoor Center’s Twin Pine Camps

Liliane Willens, Roxanne’s aunt, regaled the crowd with stories about her family’s path from Russia, through Shanghai, to the United States beginning after the Russian Revolution and concluding at the end of World War II. Lily believes Roxanne developed qualities of perseverance, grit, and determination from her maternal grandmother, who had lead the family through much of that trek. When Lucas St. Clair addressed the crowd he too raised a great laugh of appreciation when he spoke about the power and dominance of women in his family, and how at a young age he learned not to second guess either his mother’s wisdom or her determination to get a job done. Lucas was clearly relieved that this particular job was done!

Roxanne Quimby’s aunt Liliane Willens speaks to the crowd about the qualities of perseverance and grit her niece learned from her maternal grandmother.

The hard-working staff of NEOC provided the wonderful setting for the gathering, along with delicious food and drink. Dave Mallett and his band took the party deep into the night with an endless serenade for the party-goers. The first 31 miles of the IAT is now on land considered by President Barack Obama to be a national treasure, and we agree!

16 Days Celebrating Thames Path National Trail

Britain’s famous River Thames, which flows through the city of London, boasts a National Trail called the Thames Path.  2016 marks the Path’s 20th anniversary since its designation, and in July hundreds of ramblers and walkers celebrated by taking part in a 16 day walking relay from source to sea. The commemorative baton was carried over 200 miles and ceremonially passed on each day by local dignitaries.

Mayor of Eton and Chair of RBWM passing the baton to the Lead Rambler

It was a relay that would appeal to any tourist.  From the river’s source, the Thames Path – which like Britain’s other National Trails forms a section of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT) in Europe – winds through attractive countryside featuring water meadows, quaint villages, locks and historic towns such as Oxford and Windsor.

The final section takes walkers through London to reach the Thames Barrier, passing famous landmarks such as Hampton Court Palace, Kew Gardens and the Houses of Parliament, the World Heritage Site of Greenwich and Tower and London bridges. A photo gallery has been created for everyone to enjoy.  Steven Tabbitt, Thames Path Trails Manager, was pleased to see so many people take part: “The relay brought people and places together in a celebration of this unique National Trail”.

Thames Path Custodian returns the baton to Trails Manager Steven Tabbitt

Looking north of the Thames, the Pennine Way celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. It was the first National Trail to be designated in 1965 using new legislation that had been inspired by a campaign for public access and enjoyment of Britain’s unique countryside, which in turn was inspired by the development of the Appalachian Trail in the United States.

Wide vista from Pinhaw Beacon on the Pennine Way, first UK National Trail

A lot has been achieved since 1965.  Today, there are 15 official National Trails spreading across 2,500 miles (4,000 km) of the most attractive landscapes in England and Wales. These trails take people over rolling mountains, remote moorland, rugged coastline, tranquil woodland and picturesque farmland. 

The National Trail ‘family’ continues to evolve and look to the future. Currently under development is the the England Coast Path which will encompass the entire English coast by 2020. This coastal trail will become one of the longest coastal walking routes in the world. National Trails are also hosting a greater variety and number of events, ranging from marathon running to festivals and rambles for disabled people in all-terrain scooters. Three Trails can be ridden on horseback or bicycle – The Ridgeway, South Downs Way and Pennine Bridleway.  Everyone is encouraged to discover the UK National Trails to ensure they continue to be valued as part of Britain’s natural heritage.  Plan a visit soon and feel free to donate to the maintenance of these National Trails of England and Wales.  Be sure to visit the National Trails website and follow us on Facebook @thenationaltrails and on Twitter @NationalTrails.