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" Eskdale with Barbara "

Date & start time:      2nd / 3rd July 2016.      ( NY 173 007 )

Location of Start :     Dalegarth Station, Boot in Eskdale, Cumbria, Uk.

Places visited :          Pottergill Fm, Loweswater, Giggle Alley and Boot in Eskdale.

Main walk details :   2.25 mls, negligible feet of ascent,  2 hours 30 mins including lunch.

Walked with :             Barbara, Ann and our dogs, Harry and Dylan.

Weather :                    Changeable, but dry and sunny on the Eskdale walk

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number PU 100034184.



Ann sister is up in the Lakes for the first time and so over the next six days

we have chance to show her around and enjoy some shorter walks.


- - - o o o - - -


Let's hope the weather stays fine for her to see this area at its best.

However the weather on the first day or so

didn't do us any favour's !

Saturday was windy with low cloud on the high fells and rain in the air.

We chose what we thought was a fine spell for a local walk through Whinny Ridding Woods under Low Fell.

Barbara hasn't done a lot of fellwalking and Harry is a lot less mobile nowadays so this local walk would be fine today.

It gave Barbara the chance to get a wider perspective on our valley.

Behind the cottage as we start off across the fields is Mellbreak . . . she declined a pre-breakfast walk up to the summit !

Over the wall the twin summits of Whiteside and Grasmoor split by Gasgale Gill Valley and the Liza Beck.

Hey . . . the sun's shining and everything in the valley is looking better.


The weather had other ideas

and lulled us into a false sense of security.

As we walked through the trees and along

to the ruins of the old Pottergill Farm

another heavy rain shower crept in

over the Loweswater Fells.


The walk back, though sheltered by those trees,

was a damp affair but not a great problem.

We all had an outing and the dogs had some exercise

. . . and there was cake in the tin back home !


- - - o o o - - -


Sunday was Eskdale Day . . . where we had the chance

to drive over and ride La'al Ratty railway.


Though we have been over many times

there is always something new to see or do.

We stopped at Eskdale Green  to check the timetable

and with less than three quarters of an hour to spare

we had chance for a quick explore

to find the Japanese Gardens at Giggle Alley.

Parking on the layby in the village.
The old gardens are under restoration.
Not helped by the weather of recent years.

The garden is now owned by the Forestry Commission is being restored through a partnership between themselves and the local community.

click here for the Forestry Commission website.

The landscaped area is on a low granite hillside behind the village.

The Japanese Garden was commissioned by Lord Rea, a Liverpool coal and shipping millionaire, who had the big house in the village.

The gardens were designed by Thomas Mawson's team of garden designers in 1914.

We head up the steps into the unknown . . .
. . . and emerge into an rather overgrown but delightful landscape.

At its heart are a series of pools surrounded by bamboo, magnolia and colourful maples.

A small chinese bridge takes you over the pools . . .
Plenty of potential for future work . . . volunteers welcome.

- - - o o o - - -

Back at the station in time . . .

. . . for the imminent arrival of the 11am train to Dalegarth.

Ann fits neatly into the first compartment with the dogs.
They are becoming veteran travellers on this train.

With the train nearly full of Sunday visitors, Barbara and I have to find a seat slightly further back.

We wait at the passing loop till the down train drawn by the locomotive River Irt had passes through.

The train we were on today was drawn by the steam locomotive Northern Rock.

On again, up the gradual climb towards Dalegarth.

Passing Fisherground, one of the few UK camping sites with its own railway station.

A little extra coal to build a head of steam for the last section.

Hold your cursor over the picture to appreciate Ann's close-up view.

Passing the classic Stanley House at Beckfoot.

Our outward journey drawing to a close as the train approaches the end of the line.

Disembarkation . . . at Dalegarth Station.

We watch the engine being swung round at the turntable.

It will steam down the other track and be rejoined to the far end of the train for the return journey.

- - - o o o - - -

We are going to head off on a walk to Boot Village by the old track

and first check at the shop for the question of access to the footpath shown on the map.

Permission granted to walk a short section of the line, we leave the train and walk along the track between the two stone walls.

After 50 yards we could cut through the gate into the field.

 . . . and once across the small stream we join the footpath that heads right along an old abandoned railway track bed.

This path is known locally as the ‘Three Foot Track’, a reference to the original width of the mine railway

which used to serve the Nab Gill iron mines above Boot Village.   It was laid in the 1870's.

In the early 1870's demand for steel was increased by the Franco-Prussian War. Only Cumbrian haematite ore was suitable and available in quantity,

and was needed for producing this high quality product by the Bessemer process, a method of improved iron production,

invented and in use in Swansea at that time. The Cumbrian ore would have travelled by boat from Ravenglass to the South Wales port.

Some old ironwork and bridges still survive.
We were watched by the young herdwick lambs as we passed.

The end of the (old) line.   A full and interesting history of the railway can be found at British-Heritage-Railways website.

The exact layout of the old station and loading point for the railway is confusing as the various levels don't quite make sense.  

What looks like a station platform may in fact be a loading area . . . I can't find a detailed historical map.

The Nab Gill iron mines are alongside the notch in the skyline.  They finally closed in 1918.

- - - o o o - - -

Closing the gate on the railway and on the open fell

we walk a short distance down the hill to the bridge in Boot Village.

The Whillan Beck has a reasonably large waterfall at this point and so a watermill was built to take advantage of all the available power.

The water here has drained from the western slopes of Scafell, Slightside and the area around Burnmoor Tarn.

The corn mill was enlarged to take a second wheel . . .
. . . and this year has acquired a third to generate electricity.

By the time you read this it should be up and running and creating power for the National Grid.

When it goes live it will generate money which will help with the costs of preserving the mill.

Hopefully everything is "coming up roses".

Barbara and I take a look inside . . . Old, new and practical.

The old shop till . . . the new computer screen . . . and behind us a large glass bottle in which to place your entry fee / donations.

An old engraving shows the mill with one wheel and the waterfall.

Someone appears to be fishing in the mill outflow but his line probably reached over into the main pool of the river.

I think this is clear enough to read it yourself !
The simple principle yet complex system of the mill.

Barbara reads all about it and tries to make sense of how it is laid out.

Here the rotating sieve that cleans and sorts the flour after milling.

An early photo of the Miller at work.
His oven and washroom in an adjacent part of the building.

A final, random shot of an old sewing machine on the wall outside the mill . . . heritage in the raw.

All this activity has allowed us to develop an appetite . . . so we call in at the Boot Inn.

A very nice bowl of soup, accompanied by a glass of local ale, is the order of the day.

Afterwards we have time to walk over to the church . . .
. . . past a nice section of rebuilt stone wall.

This is another section of abandoned rail track which crosses the valley to the old mines of Gill Force and Gate Crag,

tapping in on the same iron ore vein as the Nab Gill mines above the old Boot station.

We have now reached the main River Esk which flows down from the high fells.

There are a few nice pools for swimming when the water temperature is right.

We cross the river on the old mine bridge, now sporting a new wooden deck and (health and safety) fencing.

After walking a short distance upstream we turn and head for the stepping stones.

Safely across on the correct side of the river once again.

St Catherine's Church  . . . There has been a place of worship in this place since a seventh century

but the present Church is though to date from the 17th century, partially rebuilt in 1881.

An unusual list of benefactors . . .
. . . hangs on the simple barn-like walls of the building.
This old church bell dates back to 1445 . . . now replaced as it says.
In the graveyard, a memorial to Ann Marie Wake.

She was one of the four who set up Fisherground campsite and their story is told in Ian Hall's book Living the Dream

This link also has some video footage of life in the 1970's.

The gravestone behind also attracted Ann's attention.

It indicated a very tragic occurrence so we investigated the detail on the internet when we returned home.

A tragedy indeed and a seemingly unsolved event many thousands of miles away which brought great sadness to the family here in the valley of Eskdale.

Looking back at St Catherine's as we take the footpath back to the station.

Rather than walk back the way we came, we turned left and took the alternative footpath towards the war memorial.

The station building can be seem in the distance . . . it is the same distance either way.

All paths lead back to the train . . . okay so this one is a wooden train in the playground of the station.

This one is real and so Barbara and Ann settle themselves in an open carriage

[ next to Brian, an even larger golden retriever in the next compartment.]

With a slight delay due to ice creams, the train is ready to leave.

Heading out under steam, drawn by the loco River Irt this time.

Cruising downhill . . . past Fisherground Halt once more.

Across the fields the King George is planning an outdoor event of some sort.

"Giving the driver a clear request to stop" if you wish to board the train.

That's good because this is where we get off.

Our vacated compartment is full once more as the lady guard signals the train to leave.

Driving down the valley, we see our train pulling out from Irton Road Station, heading for Ravenglass.

- - - o o o - - -

Ann and Barbara on the viewpoint at Wast Water . . . with Yewbarrow, Great Gable and Lingmell behind.

It was so close to our route home that it would be a shame not to divert into the valley to show Barbara the famous view.

- - - o o o - - -



Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220, or my Canon 1100D Digital SLR.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a fine ice cream from the station at Dalegarth.

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Previous walk - 30th June 2016 - The Loweswater Double

A previous time up here - 27th October 2015 - Eskdale and Stanley Gill Force

Next walk - 4th July 2016 - Honister Mine Tour