‘Renegade’ Signs Brighten Up the Lakes

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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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Comments (16)

    The design of the signs is clever. But I don’t see the parallel with Banksy. I realise The Lakes is playground, but these urban-style signs are not enhancing their context in the same way that Banksy’s enhance theirs. The ones on the Old Man of Coniston and Striding Edge seem particularly miss-placed IMO.

    Sorry Leo.

    I think that a council PR department might see them as Banksy-ist, even if the rest of us don’t 🙂

    I’m gonna see them all

    Looks like someone’s A level marketing project. What naff rubbish.

    sculptures, hill side art, isn’t the outdoors enough anymore? leave the ‘art’ in the towns and cities please. this is a worrying trend, why bring unrbanism to the countryside rather than the other way round? to make city types feel at home?? surely not..

    leo houlding is a genius on rock but sorry, this kind of thing makes me wonder if bing a pro climber just doesn’t pay the bills and he’s had to look / accept offers from elsewhere )

    They’ve done this road sign idea before in Grizedale, dont think its appropiate on the hill and I’d expect something new in the forest.

    I think they make pretty eye catching photos, but they should probably be taken down fairly quickly (especially the ones in exposed areas).
    And, yes the Banksy reference is tragic.

    and the world’s most famous cliff face, the 1,000-metre El Nino, among others.

    [pedant] should read something like “and on El Capitan in Yosemite, possibly the worlds most famous cliff face, Houlding did the 2nd free ascent of the 1000 metre super hard classic El Nino” {or some such nonsense]

    antigee, don’t forget he was in topgear once too.

    Was just thinking I had no idea what El Nino was, and that most people would think a cliff like, ooh I dunno, El Capitan was more famous. I was right. And wrong. At the same time. Cool 🙂

    Please go away with your signs.

    Its got to be a wind up, they look like amateur photo shop job, imagine the uproar from the red sock and breeches brigade coming across that sign on striding edge!

    They’ll be nicked soon enough.

    Total nonsense! The money would have been better donated to mountain rescue or the local air ambulance…

    I’ve nicked them already, so you don’t have to. They’ll be on eBay by tomorrow.

    There is no charge for excellence.

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