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" Back Lanes and Mills of Cockermouth "

Date & start time:      26th June 2021.   2 pm start.

Location of Start :     Towers Lane, Cockermouth, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 124 298 )

Places visited :          Cemetery, Low Mill, the river Cocker, Double Mill, Simonscales Mill.

Walk details :              4 mls, 300 ft of ascent, hours  mins.

Highest point :           Walking somewhere new that you've almost walked before.

Walked with :              Jane and the dogs, Dylan and Dougal.

Weather :                      Overcast but dry.

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


Today I'm slightly away from home territory at the invitation of Jane, who walk with me at Buttermere some time back now. 

She suggested a walk in her part of the world for a change, so I head for a more urban environment, a place full of history and a few surprises.

Old buildings a plenty to visit but nature and wildlife feature in the pictures too.

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My walk today started in Cockermouth town

close to the "Strawberry How" sign

on the Lorton Road out of Cockermouth.


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My invitee Jane, who lives in Cockermouth . . .
. . . and who invited me to venture into town for a walk.

A very rural start finds us walking through Cockermouth Cemetery so as to avoid walking the main road.

Different areas of the cemetery are managed for wildlife and flowers and in Spring is full of snowdrops, bluebells and crocuses.

There are more formal areas with plenty of trees and seats.

There's even a section for woodland burials, without all the formal detail of a grave stones.

The railway line between Threlkeld and Keswick is well known as a tourist footpath

The same railway line further west hosts the Orient Express at Bass Lake Station and here in Cockermouth, an urban walkway.

The old Keswick  to Workington railway track bed continues under the Lorton Road

but we leave it at this point and cross the road bridge above.

Walking down Skinner Street to an underpass . . .
. . . which takes us towards Little Mill.

Skinner Street gives a possible clue to the tradesmen that used to work in that area.

Animal skins needed to be 'tanned' in order that they can be turned into workable leather

and the tanners needed tannin from oak bark (ground in mills) to be able to do that.

One of the buildings we passed was actually called "The Old Tannery".

Little Mill, located on the south side of Tom Rudd Beck, is thought to be one of the earliest watermill sites in Cockermouth.

In it's history it has been a corn mill, a oak bark mill, back to corn milling and finally a timber mill before being converted to a residential home.

The tall barn on the right that we glimpsed from the gate, was suggestive of the later "timber mill" era.

We double back under the Lorton Road and across to Tweed Mill.

[ Town plan courtesy of the 'Mills of Cockermouth' Booklet.]

Beautiful flowers on the way down Tweed Mill Lane.

Tweed Mill backs onto the old railway and was in its day the only mill in Cockermouth powered by steam  rather than water.

The mill itself was a much larger building and produced tweed cloth and blankets, later it was renamed The Atlas Works,

and first produced confectionary but by 1913 was famously involved in the manufacturing of three and four wheel cycle cars and bikes.

Sadly the war intervened and the business ceased.

The main buildings were demolished in 1918

leaving only the few outbuildings we saw today.

( Photo courtesy of the Mill leaflet )

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We crossed Tom Rudd Beck

and emerge onto Lorton Road.

Jane found a hidden path which took us down

to the edge of the River Cocker.


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The Lorton Road into town crosses the bridge just up stream

but the houses by the river front onto Rubby Banks Road (where the people are walking).

Looking down stream to the South Street pedestrian bridge.

The strong, red sandstone wall  has hinged flood gates at each opening as it is part of the Cockermouth flood defences.

This path didn't connect with the bridge so we climb up above the old Toll Cottage

A back alley off Cocker Lane . . .
. . . takes us to All Saints Church.

The All Saints Rooms, the old Grammar School, has now been converted to a luxury holiday let

which includes its own sauna and hot tub in the old crypt . . . for a party of up to 20 guests.

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The top floor chandeliers are just an indication of the quality

of the renovation . . . they look amazing.



The plaque seen on the outside of the Saints Rooms.


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A sneak view of The Bitter End pub (above)

close to the Bitter Beck, another stream

that feeds into the River Cocker.



Through the trees we can also see

the distinctive roof of the Jennings Brewery

which still makes excellent beer here in Cockermouth.



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The Cockermouth Town Hall, licensed for weddings, which might explain the posh dress !

I believe it used to be a Methodist Chapel at one time, but the sign says it was converted for use by the Town Council in 1934.

A grand arch leads us through to the Riverside car park behind the Town Hall.

Downstream is the Cocker Bridge, joining Market Street and The Castle to Main Street and the rest of town.

This was the view as we crossed the river ourselves using the pedestrian bridge.

Clear waters of the River Cocker . . . but did you spot anything else of interest ?

A quick change of lens and I can zoom in on the Heron sitting patiently on a rock, waiting for a passing afternoon snack.

A richly painted house catches the eye.
Full marks to the owners of Comraich (gaelic for Sanctuary).

I've driven across this Lorton Road bridge many times, but this will be the first time I've walked beneath it.

Further up Rubby Banks Road we pass under the old railway bridge.

The Rubby Banks Mill buildings, of which there were two, stood somewhere on this site until 1971 but have now been demolished.

They had been used as fulling mills, corn mills, flax mills and in 1781 Rubby Banks installed one of Richard Arkwright’s famous "water frames"

in order to manufacture cotton thread (remembered by those that paid attention in school history lessons !).

A very old looking barn with an first floor doorway . . .
. . . stands opposite Rubby Banks Cottage.

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A quick check of that booklet again

and you know what, that barn door looks familiar.


This must be the remains of Rubby Banks Mill,

Not all of the building was demolished in 1971.


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Hello Roger,

We enjoyed your Cockermouth Mills & River walk with Jane.

The other side of the river from the building with the old door which you identified as the Mill, opposite the lovely Rubby Banks Cottage, you can see the remains of the weir and a bridge across to the other side of the river.

Just lying there in the river is a massive axle and gear wheel from the mill.

Chris & Jeff, Cockermouth.

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Many thanks for the photo, I'll check it out next time I'm there . . . RmH

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Presumably it is the owners of the cottage that look after the adjacent ornate garden.

Once the road ends our route continues on through some parkland.

Here the dogs get chance to be off lead and enjoy the water.

You can see where this photo is leading !

Double Mills was another of the earliest mills of Cockermouth, dating back possibly to the 13th Century (though not at this size)

It may look familiar to walkers in the area as it was run as a Youth Hostel from 1933 to about 2016.

I remember staying here one weekend on an early family visit to The Lakes.

"The Town Council understand that the new owners will redevelop the building to provide a family home

and hostel accommodation for walkers and people visiting the area."     (the local News and Star newspaper)

The property also includes the popular "Cockermouth Beach" on the bend in the river.

It has one of the closest river pools to town, capable of being used for swimming on a hot day !

Double Mills Building backs onto the river and was rather badly flooded in the floods of 2009 and 2015.

The second water wheel was used to drive a duplicate but separate set of milling equipment in the newer extension.

One wheel would drive a corn mill, the second set would enable them to grind oats or a different type of grain without altering the mechanism.

Two old mill stones by Double Mills House . . .
. . . and some rather nice modern stonework in their garden.

We double back and cross the river on the bridge just downstream of The Beach.

This gave us access to the footpath that continues alongside the river.

A gradual bend with a garden seat on the other side . . . somewhere nice to sit and watch the world go by.

Foxgloves by the river side . . .
. . . mixed with a selection of other flowers and grasses.

We've left the urban environment now and are walking up river across the fields.

Looking across at the distant houses and commercial buildings near the Oakhurst Roundabout.

Well . . . what are rivers for ?

Heading further up stream . . .
. . . we pass under the A66 viaduct.

In the river beyond is another watchful heron, hoping for a meal to swim by.

As we approach it flies off . . .
. . . only to settle again a short distance downstream.

The last group of buildings on our riverside walk was at Simonscales, again an old mill complex in the dim and distant past.

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Simonscale Lane brings us nicely back into the top of town

to complete our circular tour of some of the back lanes

and mills of Cockermouth.


The old Coach House and a smart local gardens bring us . . .
. . . back to Towers Lane where we started earlier this afternoon.

Thanks Jane for a very different afternoon's walk.

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For further reading on the Mills of Cockermouth . . . open the town booklet here

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Technical note: Pictures taken with my Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Camera.

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

This site best viewed with . . . a local guide to introduce you to the walk.

Go to Home Page . . . © RmH . . . Email me here

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