With a long-standing history in the area, Lowther Show has become a staple in the Cumbrian events calendar. The show was originally set up as a three-day horse carriage driving trial in the 1970s, and was often publicised as a favourite sporting event of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. After a brief pause in proceedings in 2010, the show was back a few years later.
The Show takes place on the grounds of the Lowther Estate, close to what’s left of Lowther Castle. The estate has been owned and managed by the Lowther family since the times of Edward I, being granted land to ‘impark’ in the latter half of the 1250s. The castle was rebuilt in the early 1800s by William Lowther, the 1st Earl of Lonsdale, but many years later, in 1937, the castle was forced to close. The roof was removed 20 years later, leaving only the shell standing today.
This year’s Show was held over 12th and 13th August, and I attended on the first day, Saturday. I should mention that the first day of horse carriage driving trials was actually on the 11th, but the main events were held over the weekend. We got off to a rocky start weather-wise. As is typical of Cumbria weather, it was raining early on, but thankfully it brightened up! There is always a variety of activities on offer, and lots to look at. The driving trials are the ‘main event’ for many, but there is also the Lowther Hound Show, gun dog trials, Pony Club demonstrations, and a clay shooting competitions (to name only a few!).
It displays the best elements of country living, and is hugely beneficial to the area, bringing in competitors, exhibitors, and visitors from all over the country. Even if you’re not really interested in horse carriage driving, or watching the hound shows, there’s still lots to see and do. There’s huge tents dedicated to an antiques fair, craft and gift stalls, and of course, food. Many local producers come to sell their meats, pies, and puddings, all of which are to die for! You could probably spend one whole day just visiting food stalls and bars!
I’m going to go back to the horse carriage driving again, but only because it is such a big part of the show, and one of the best. You don’t really need to know a lot about it to enjoy the fast-paced excitement of it all. The competition is divided into different phases: dressage, marathon, and Lowther Derby. My favourite hands-down is the marathon. The course winds through the Lowther estate, and is comprised of eight obstacles along the route. This year, there was even a Minion-themed obstacle! Many of the obstacles are sponsored by local companies too.
One of the more dramatic obstacles was that at the bottom of the showground, sponsored by A.W. Jenkinsons. Competitors have to come down a bridge, which can get quite slippy covered in mud and rain, around and under the bridge a couple of times, and then back up – all within a time limit. It’s so much fun to see the teams of four horses storming around, and the power they have to use to haul themselves back up again.
Apparently though, Nen wasn’t thoroughly pleased with the carriage driving:
Maybe next year she’ll just stick to the ice cream vans, and pizza stands.