Date Posted: 10th April 2018

Don’t miss Anita Rani and me on Percy Kelly’s Whitehaven trail on #countryfile on BBC1 on Sunday at 7.00 @BBCCCountryfile.

Percy Kelly is having a good centenary year. After the resounding success of  his retrospective exhibition at Tullie House, his unique vision of his native West Cumbria has come to the attention of Countryfile. It is inevitable that, despite Kelly’s retentiveness and hatred of anyone seeing or even touching his work, he is now getting more and more recognition albeit 25 years after his death in exile and abject poverty. His exceptional talent will now gain momentum attracting more and more attention. It is unstoppable.

I created the 6 trails along the West Cumbrian coast a few years ago and they have proved to be very popular for visitors and locals alike, so much so that I’ve had to do another rapid reprint. They stretch from Allonby in the north where Kelly lived for many years with his first wife Audrey, they revisit his childhood haunts in Workington the town where he was born and made his first drawings and explore Maryport, Harrington, Parton, Whitehaven and St Bees. Kelly didn’t do pretty! He was much more interested in industrial West Cumbria and his paintings and drawings enable us to see it through his eyes. Each trail is a walk with Percy. With his keen observation he is a perfect guide, drawing attention to things we might miss, making us look more closely and see what has changed over the years.

I had a lovely time walking the harbour and cliff tops of Whitehaven with Anita Rani when filming last week. By the end of the day she, like so many others,had fallen under the Kelly spell and developed a sincere love of Kelly’s work. In fact the whole crew were fascinated by his extraordinary life and skill -  so much so they were questioning me between shots marveling at the incredible twists and turns his life took and the conversation carried on over lunch. (fish and chips at Zest on the Harbour which was excellent and I haven't been prompted to say that.)

It is very sad that Percy Kelly never allowed himself to enjoy any acclaim or reward in his lifetime. His presence is deeply felt on these trails as it was in the exhibition in Carlisle.

You can buy the box of trails  or download the pdfs on the merchandise page of this web site or at Tullie House Carlisle, Bookends in Carlisle and Keswick, Abbot Hall Kendal. Percy House Gallery Cockermouth, The Beacon Whitehaven and other places. (check first that they are in stock as they are disappearing fast.)