Artist Nikki Pugh has worked with Dr Christopher Donaldson (Lecturer in Regional History, Lancaster University) to investigate landscape, history and memory in the Duddon Valley.

Located in the south of the Lake District, Duddon Valley was home to prehistoric and Roman remains, medieval longhouses, and ancient farming communities. It has a strong industrial past (mills, quarrying and an iron furnace) and nowadays attracts tourists ranging from fell walkers and mountain bikers through to those taking a more leisurely approach to exploring the area.

The Duddon was a significant influence on William and Dorothy Wordsworth, and features in a series of sonnets by William. Part of the project will also support the Wordsworth Trust to explore the links between the Wordsworths, the landscape of the valley and the people there now.

In 1820, William Wordsworth published a series of sonnets that celebrate and explore the landscape of the Duddon Valley, expressing in particular his lifelong affection for the river.

Working with local residents, volunteers from the Duddon Valley Local History Group and academics from Lancaster University, artist Nikki Pugh has been exploring aspects of the many physical and social landscapes that are overlaid on this quiet corner of the Lake District, including:

  • How did Wordsworth’s text for the Duddon sonnets evolve in the versions before it was published?
  • What are the challenges involved in trying to identify the locations described in the sonnets?
  • How do people relate to the Duddon Valley today?

Featuring original manuscripts, stepping stones you can actually step on, a touch wall that plays the sounds of the river, and successive attempts by people to replicate Wordsworth’s journey down the Duddon Valley, the By Duddon’s Side exhibition takes on a theme of revisiting. There’s something here for you whether the Duddon is a regular haunt or if you’ve yet to discover the windswept fells, picturesque river and rich heritage of this charming valley.

Find out even more about this fascinating project on Nikki's blog.