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In praise of Losehill Hal - the Victorian pile has for the past 40 years been the Peak District national park's education and learning centre

December 17, 2010 11:54 AM
By Editorial in The Guardian
Losehill Hall

Losehill Hall

There are no easy cuts, no low-hanging fruit just waiting to drop off the bough, as public authorities all over the country are realising in the tense wait to hear whether their budget will be cut by a third or just a quarter. That is the unenviable position of the Peak District national park, which today will decide what to do with Losehill Hall, the Victorian pile that for the past 40 years has been the park's education and learning centre as well as a valued residential conference venue close to England's industrial heartland. Faced with a budget cut that might amount to £2m over four years, the park management saw Losehill as an obvious candidate: selling it could more or less fill the hole in the budget at a stroke, and even leasing it - thus shedding the running costs of up to £300,000 a year - might get halfway. But they reckoned without the affection the centre has built up over more than a generation as a place where schoolchildren and adults alike can come and learn about the park, the work it does and its historic role as the home of mass trespass. It was at a meeting here in 1979 that the late Duke of Devonshire came out as a supporter of the Ramblers' Association. More prosaically, last year alone more than 20,000 visitors attended its courses. Buying the hall was an inspired act that represented all that national parks stand for - not only free access to a stretch of countryside of wild beauty but a bridge between town and country. Even if the park gives up running the hall, it must keep that link.