‘Renegade’ Signs Brighten Up the Lakes

October 26, 2009

If only all road signs were like this
If only all road signs were like this

Lake District adventurer Leo Houlding has scaled England’s three highest peaks in Cumbria to unveil a set of “renegade road signs.”

The guerrilla artwork is reminiscent of the famous urban street artist “Banksy” and has involved modifying a series of road signs and then putting them in the wild Lakeland landscape.

10 new signs have been showcased to amazed walkers on Scafell Pike, Helvellyn, Skiddaw, High Street, Honister Pass, Coniston Water, Coniston Old Man, Silecroft Beach, Millom, the Lyth Valley, Grizedale Forest and Whinlatter Forest, Keswick.

They have been specially created with the aim of making people think about all the adventure experiences they can have during a visit to Cumbria. The signs show passing paragliders, bunny-hopping mountain-bikers, drifting hot-air balloons, a climber taking on a rock fall – as well as wild horse-riders and kayakers.

A new “Welcome Sign To The Lake District” has also been created because the Lake District doesn’t have one apart from the sandstone boulders marking the boundaries of the National Park.  Because the Lake District is an area rather than a single place, it doesn’t have a dedicated sign that most towns and villages offer new arrivals.

The sign was erected on top of Scafell Pike.

Leo, 29, was called in to help put the signs in place in a project devised by Cumbria Tourism and the Kirkby Stephen-based artist Steve Messam. It is part of Cumbria Tourism’s plans to be recognised as the Adventure Capital of the UK by 2012.

This sign has appeared at Winlatter
This sign has appeared at Winlatter

Cumbria hopes to find permanent homes for the signs by Olympic year as well as staging sudden “moving exhibitions” of them around the county for people and visitors to enjoy.

Based in the Lakes, Leo has scaled Mount Everest, the Old Man of Hoy sea stack off the coast of the Orkneys, the Angel of the North and the world’s most famous cliff face, the 1,000-metre El Nino, among others.

Leo said: “All of us obey road signs on a daily basis and these signs of adventure are about reminding people what they can do in the Lake District’s higher, wilder places. We want to encourage people to come to the Adventure Capital of the UK and embrace our landscape because it’s good for mind, body and spirit. These signs are about reminding people what they can do in places like this instead of what they can’t.”

One sign to be given a 21st century upgrade is the controversial “Elderly People” traffic sign made in 1981, which depicts the demographic as decrepit stooping figures with a walking stick.

The new version shows a reinvigorated elderly couple hiking up a hill with back packs and Nordic walking poles – to celebrate OPALS or (Older People With Active Lifestyles). It’s been featured on the aptly-named “Coniston Old Man.”

On Striding Edge, hikers are warned “DON’T LOOK DOWN – THRILL.” Leo also carried a sign onto a cliff-face of Fleetwith Pike while doing the Via Ferrata experience at Honister Slate Mine.

A sign was also placed on the Lake District’s very own High Street in a nod to the street signs seen through the Westminster district of London.

For the time being, people can see the signs on a special page at www.golakes.co.uk/signsofadventure or access them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Lake-District-Cumbria/66266195119?v=photos&viewas=0

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