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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 !).
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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.
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.
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 ?
In the river beyond is another watchful heron, hoping for a meal to swim by.
The last group of buildings on our riverside walk was at Simonscales, again an old mill complex in the dim and distant past.
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.
Previous walk - 8th June 2021 Helvellyn via the Edges
A previous time up here - 22nd December - Christmas in Cockermouth
Next event - 1st July Skiddaw Fells with Martin