Mar 2024

Author: David Burbidge

Lakeland Voices and the Settle Carlisle singers in the Midland Hotel bar


News February 27 2024

Singing on the Settle Carlisle trains & StationsDecember 7 2022
To see our recent Lakeland Voice newsletter with photos and news of our upcoming events – click here 
There is also some information about the choirs and the songs we sing here.   And to hear us singing the Slovenian folk song Lipa about the Linden tree  click here  Also  I am a River and the Slovenian mountain walking song Planinska 
Singing on the train – Settle Carlisle railway

We are natural voice choirs – we make the learning of our songs as accessible as possible, and teach our songs by ear, (so there is no need to worry if you can’t read music,) and include many optional outings such as singing in a candlelit cave, on a mountain railway, on the Lake Steamer over Ulswater, on singing walks through the Lake District, round the fires of country pubs, on a remote Scottish island, and on a tour of beautiful Slovenia singing alongside many of their fabulous choirs. (All our outings are also open for those who don’t normally sing with us.)

Singing in the Midland Hotel, Applbey – Settle Carlisle railway

Rydal Water – singing in a candlelit cave with Lakeland Voices

You can see our Facebook photos of recent events here , and visit our free Youtube video learning site which has many of the songs we sing with the harmonies sung individually here  and also recordings on SoundCloud here

Pub singing at the Dent folk carols weekend 
Singers greeted with a song as they arrive by train at Ribblehead `


Black Sail hostel singing weekend – the Lake District, 
Lighthouse singing weekend – Whitley Bay – March 2024

March 22-24 2024 – Lighthouse Singing Weekend – join us for the weekend in St Mary’s Lighthouse, Whitley bay in the North East of England – singing salty songs of the sea…with a few fishy tales too. The tide comes in and the causeway floods turning the Lighthouse into an island on which we will be singing – until the tides goes out again and we can walk back to the mainland. All welcome – Friday evening meal, and lunch on Saturday and Sunday provided – but not accommodation. £120. 

March 30 2024 – Spring Sing Thing in the Central Lake District – workshop 10 am in Skelwith Bridge, followed by singing walk (c.6 miles)  with singing by waterfalls and lakes, on the fellside and inside a vast Lakeland Cavern – bring a packed lunch. Ends c.17:30. £30 for the day. 

May 16-23 2024 – Slovenia singing week, staying in beautiful farmhouse near Bled, singing arrangements of Slovenian folk songs taught each morning, and singing alongside local singers and choirs. Also optional outings to visit honey farms, walks through woods, rowing and swimming in Lake, local distilleries, etc. Half board accommodation and homestays £495. Make your own travel arrangements or join our singing train using Interrail and Eurostar via London, Brussels, Heidelberg, and Ljubljana – May 14-16.

May 31-June 3 2023 Lake District singing retreat – join us for 4 days at the top of the Duddon Valley for singing and walks and meals together with accommodation in our spacious hostel (maximum of 2 in each room.) £185 – Includes meals, accommodation, walks, workshops etc. 


Singing to the top of Slovenia’s highest mountain, Triglav August 2023

Nazdravlje! Singing Slovenia May 16-23 2024

June 28-August 28 2024 Lands End to John O’Groats singing walk – join us for parts of this walk as we link up several long distance foot path from the south east of Britain to the north west – SW peninsula footpath, Offa’s Dyke, Cross Britain walk, Pennine Way, West Highland Way etc. 

Dent Folk Carols weekend – workshop in Meditation Centre

Singing Settle Carlisle – singing  en route to Appleby 

August 31-September 1 2024 – Sheringham singing weekend on the small holding of Anne and Natasha Hood, singing songs in harmony. All songs taught by call and response, by ear. Please contact Natasha Hood to book at

September 22-29 2024 – Jura island harmony singing week staying in beautiful farmhouse by the sea and learning songs from Scotland in Gaelic, Scots, and English. All accommodation and meals provided £495

January 3-5 2025 Black Sail Lake District harmony singing and hillwalking weekend – starting with workshop in Buttermere village hall, 10am Friday (to which everyone is invited) then walking round lake and over fell to Black Sail mountain hut. £185



Everyone is welcome – there are no auditions. All the songs are taught by ear – but written music as well as recordings of the parts are available for home study. Lift shares can be arranged. We sing songs in 2, 3 and 4 part harmony from the UK and other countries, many of which reflect the seasons we are singing in. 

We also enjoy a number of outings each term, including singing in the pub, occasional optional concerts and a tour of Slovenia (my home town Sedbergh is twinned with a town in Slovenia, and we often join their choirs and learn their songs.) 

Spring Sing Thing – March 25 2023

Continuing through the spring and summer terms, 7.30pm-9.30pm,  Lakeland Voices are in the Castle Street Centre in Kendal on Tuesdays, and the Bentham community choir in the Bentham Quaker Meeting house in Low Bentham (7.30pm every Wednesday.)  

We will have singing walks through the Lake District on Tuesday evenings with Lakeland Voices in June and July.  

There is a termly subscription of £64 (10 week term) and this allows you to sing in any of the other choirs as you wish. There are also some big discounts on weekend singing events for those who join for the term, and some extra free singing events too. Sometimes we do concerts but these are optional – you are welcome to come just to enjoy the singing.

Lakeland Voices – Carols in a Candlelit Cave – at Rydal Caves near Ambleside

Our choirs often meet up to sing together as they do at the Badger Bar in Rydal in the middle of July and December, on our Settle Carlisle railway carolling day in December, at the October Apple Day at Acorn Bank, near Penrith, and in the Strickland Arms near Kendal in mid December. We welcome all visiting community choirs and can arrange accommodation and singing workshops and short walks for you should you wish to visit this beautiful area.

Penrith Community Choir

We also have a number of free pub singing events – including the George and Dragon (in Dent near Sedbergh) ,  the Badger Bar in Rydal midsummer and mid December, the Strickland Arms (at Sizergh near Kendal) in December, and  various pubs and stations on our Carolling the Settle Carlisle day in December (starting with a morning workshop in Langwathby village hall and then lunchtime singing in the Station inn at Ribblehead and a late afternoon in Settle’s Royal Oak.)

Dent folk carols – pub singing with Mulldoon’s picnic and Lakeland Voices
There are links below to photos on Facebook, and learning videos where I sing the individual harmonies for the songs we sing on Youtube.  
For free videos of me teaching the parts for many of the songs we sing click here
For more photos of singers click here
For photos of Dent click here
And for videos of previous singing events on our video channel click here
Lakeland Voice singers en route for Haystacks and Black Sail in the Lake District


Welcome – we hope your visit to the Lakeland Voice website is useful and inspiring.

Teaching a song in Little Langdale

Here you can find out about natural voice and harmony singing workshops based in South Lakeland in the North of England for groups and individuals.
The work is led by David Burbidge (pictured here leading an outdoor workshop in the Little Langdale valley) with guest teachers from around the world.

What is the Natural Voice?
We use the term ‘natural voice’ here to show that we express certain core beliefs in our way of working. These include that:

a) Singing is our birthright and should be accessible to everyone, whatever their musical training or experience.

b) The voice has its roots in the body and through releasing the breath and unnecessary tensions a more pleasurable experience of singing can be had as well as a richer and more authentic sound.

c) Harmony singing is a celebration of community and difference, where the empowerment of the different parts creates a richer whole than when everyone is the same

d) And that musical terminology should be expressed in user friendly terms or explained sufficiently so as not to confuse or alienate those who sing naturally.

Lakeland Songlines

Many of these workshops use the beautiful landscape in our area especially during our short, singing walks when we take our songs out into the landscape, singing by waterfalls and rivers, in  caves, woods and fellside chapels and round the open fires of country inns.

Video of Lakeland Voice singers and Old Foster in a Dentdale wood

Some involve longer tours and will require more fitness such as ‘Lakeland Songline’ long Whitsun weekend with camping in the mountains of the central Lake District, our singing on the top of Slovenia’s highest mountain Triglav (and the climb to get there!) and ‘The Singing Cyclists’ tours.

Workshop Venues

Our workshops are mostly based in the Lake District and Kendal, or in Sedbergh and Dent, small communities in an area overlapped by South Lakeland District and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The area includes the beautiful, rounded hills of the Howgill Fells with the spectacular Cautley Spout waterfall, and the serenity of the wooded valleys with their ancient churches and cobbled villages.

We use comfortable village halls for our workshops, as well as my old stone cottage where the river Clough flows outside the window providing its unique accompaniment to our singing. Where possible we sing round open fires with informal singing sessions in remote country inns, and singing fireside suppers under the old oak beams of Dent’s Stone Close cafe or in the Strickland Arms at Sizergh in the Lake District.


For our residential weekends and week-long retreats we hire old country cottages, and self catering hostels and country mansions in spectacular settings such as the Black Sail youth hostel in the Lake District, and Ardlussa house on the island of Jura. We are thus  able to provide single, double and twin rooms while maintaining the camaraderie of hostels with everyone mucking in together. These venues range from Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales, to as far away as the Scottish island of Jura and our twin town Zrece and Bohinj in the Slovenian mountains.

Gladly Solemn Sound in Cathedral Cavern

Some of our workshops – on weekends or summer evenings – include singing walks using local caves, waterfalls and magnificent mountain scenery for a different acoustic and as a setting for our singing.

These have included Cathedral Cavern in Little Langdale, Rydal Caves near Ambleside, Yordas cave near Ingleton, Tarn Hows, Martindale, Raisgill stone circle and ‘Long Meg and her Daughters’, through the Elysian Shades beech woods and the rapids of the Dee near Sedbergh, and singing cruises across the lakes at Coniston and Ulswater.

Our workshops in other parts of the UK include country houses overlooking the sea on a Scottish island and the old smugglers’ village Robin Hoods Bay.

What Do We Sing?
Songs are mostly drawn from cultures where people sing as naturally as they talk – folk songs from the UK,  Africa, Georgia and the Balkans. Songs in English are drawn from the American Shape note and British folk traditions as well as some jazz and sacred music.

As we teach mostly by ear our songs tend to come from cultures where music is passed on from one generation to the next by ear, as opposed to the complexities of written music found in Western classical music. We include rounds and simple harmony arrangements of the songs, as well as more challenging two, three and four part arrangements.
We are inspired by Woody Guthrie’s famous saying: “Any fool can be complicated, but it takes genius to achieve simplicity.
Bohinj – Slovenia – May 19-26 2022
Slovenia – May 19-26  2022
Lakeland Voices and me (David Burbidge) wish you all a very merry Christmas


  1. Shirley alias Whirley

    How absolutely fantastic……and so so so natural. I often sing as I am walking or [if I have breath] cycling – there's just one snag 🙂 It could, I reckon, become addictive!! Therefore could contribute massively to happiness levels….Whoops and where would that take us eh? More hills?

  2. Anonymous

    I love this song. What song is it? Is it English folk song?

  3. David Burbidge

    It is an English folk carol called Old Foster – after the man who wrote the arrangement John Foster from Sheffield. The carol is sometimes called one of the Sheffield pub carols because it is sung in the pubs in villages near Sheffield like the Royal at Dungworth, the Blue Ball at Worral, the Travellers at Oughtibridge and others. Our groups here in Cumbria sing it too – often on walks through the winter landscape.

  4. Bianca King

    The landscape is breath-taking; lush green patches amidst the majestic slopes where clouds gently roll by. I read about that place in hotels in luton where they offer additional country side info.

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