The most recent history of both of Grizedale’s leased sites, Lawson Park and Park-a-moor , involves groups engaged in early forms of leisure, tourism and training in outdoor skills. In the 1960’s Lawson Park was used by merchant navy cadets from Riversdale College, Liverpool and from 1970 until 2000 Liverpool Community College utilised the site as a field study centre for sailing, canoeing and climbing. This change in use of the site mirrored the increasing reliance of the local economy on leisure visitors instead of farming.
The surrounding land was not maintained, and returned largely to bracken and reed-infested rough pasture, though local man David Walmsley (who now assists in keeping the Lawson Park bees) kept a small herd of Dexter cows (pictured) on the meadow in the 1980’s.
He recounts how during visits to this remote and often empty place,
"My son would call it (Lawson Park) the ginger-bread house!”
Student visitors were accommodated in very basic circumstances, though the presence of running water and indoor toilets would have seemed luxurious to the earlier farmers: evidence of the students’ ambivalent occupation could be seen throughout the house and barns in graffitti, not all of which was complimentary.
On a more thoughtful note, a student visitor at that time recently emailed us to say that during his time at Lawson Park,
“I learned just how dark nights can be.”
Author Richard Adams (of 'Watership Down' fame) published his novel 'The Plague Dogs' in 1977, in which Lawson Park is featured as a sinister research station.