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" Round Boot without the Railway "

Date & start time:      15th January 2022.   10.45 am start.

Location of Start :     The car park adjacent to Dalegarth Hall, Eskdale, Cumbria. ( NY 171 003).

Places visited :          River Esk, The Woolpack, Christcliff Farm, Gill Bank Farm, Boot, Beckfoot.

Walk details :              5 miles, 750 ft of ascent, 4 hours including lunch.

Highest point :           Burnmoor Coffin Route op.Gill Bank Farm 530ft - 163m above sea level.

Walked with :              Loes and my dogs, Dylan and Dougal.

Weather :                     Overcast but dry today.  Recent Storms in evidence !


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


The Ratti Railway was closed for winter maintenance but that doesn't stop us enjoying an extended circular walk around the village of Boot in Eskdale. 

Loes and I pick a low level walk on the map, but who knows if we'll stick to our plans in this area she knows so well.

She used to live in Eskdale Green in a previous life and has walked all these fells and valleys many times.

However there may be something along the way she doesn't remember !

Just after Beckfoot station there's a turn off to Dalegarth War Memorial.
We park in the car park next to the river and change footwear.

Trough House Bridge near Dalegarth Hall, at the start of the walk.

The deep pool in the river is a popular place to swim in warmer weather.

We crossed through the adjacent gate, signposted for the waterfalls, but we took the path to the left closer to the main river.

The recent high winds of Storm Arwen seem to have caused a lot of damage with numerous fallen trees, one of which damaged the footbridge here.

The debris further up the valley towards Stanley Gill Force has actually blocked the route so it is technically 'shut' until the path is cleared.

A tall, slender larch managed to survive whilst its neighbour fell.
The storm conditions have also moved some of the old stepping stones.

St Catherine's Church seen across today's quiet waters of the River Esk.

We follow the riverside path . . . to the best of our ability !

Beautifully clear waters below Gill Force show every rock and stone that are normally hidden below the surface.

- - - o o o - - -


We reach but don't cross the old railway bridge

as we're staying on this side of the River Esk.


The bridge was a vital part of the railway system in the 1880's

as the iron mines behind boot were extended.

Iron ore had also been discovered on this side of the river.


The branch line that served the bridge and the mine

was eventually abandoned too, but part of it now forms the main line

which stops at the roadside in Dalegarth.

(It's historic trackbed is best seen by checking out the O.S. map)


- - - o o o - - -

The riverside path continues up the valley, passing this peaceful small tarn below Gate Crag.


The chair was placed in memory

of a sixteen year old local girl, Claire Temple.


- - - o o o - - -

The bridleway continues on as a good path . . . heading towards Doctor Bridge.

The much renovated Low Birker Farm now seems more akin to holiday accommodation than to farming,

especially the (rather nice) extension on the left of the old farmhouse.

The path, which has slowly climbed above the valley floor, now returns the low ground

where the open fields give us lovely views of the upper Esk fells.

Doctor Bridge, strangely with no 'apostrophe s', stands over the river in dramatic fashion.

Loes and the dogs pause for a long distance photo.

The bridge is only a short way from the main road and therefore The Woolpack Inn . . . it would be churlish not to call in for refreshment !

The landlady, Paddington, has a new retriever pup who was delighted to meet our two.  Dougal seems interested, Dylan more aloof !

[ Ann and I first met Harry and Paddington at what was then the Burnmoor Inn in the village of Boot when we stayed there many years ago.]

She told us that both the Boot Inn and the Brook House Inn in the village were both shut during January so our plans for lunch were brought forward.


The request for a swift half that we had ordered was extended to a full pint,

and we also added one of their rather nice Woolpack pizzas to the order. 

Excellent !!



Looking around at the interesting signage within the pub

as we relaxed over lunch.


- - - o o o - - -

The path leading out from the back of the pub seemed to head for Eel Tarn and not down the valley where we wanted to go,

so we returned to the road and walked the short distance to the Christcliff Farm turning.

- - - o o o - - -



Two of the residents of the farm

called over to say hello as we walked up the track.


- - - o o o - - -

The farm itself is easily by-passed by following a rather obvious sign on the gate just before it.

We want to head back to Boot (in a rather round about way) so through the gate we go.

More locals came across to see our small party as we crossed the field, heading for Paddock Wray Farm.

These are lovely year old Herdwick sheep, looking in prime condition in their identical coloured fleeces.

Ahead the path splits, left to the Hollins camp site, or right up the fell heading for Gill Bank, our preferred route.

The lighter green sheep field has a large mound of cleared stone next to the wall, a bit like those found in the upper Wasdale Valley.

This field in the foreground doesn't appear to have been cleared and so reflects more the original nature of the farming land.

The path climbs and turns till we find ourselves looking up the Whillan Beck Valley.

Beyond the farm (seen next to the central tree) is the high ground of Boat How, with Slightside and Scafell forming the higher fells beyond.

This is Gill Bank Farm, as we look back after passing through the farmyard.

Surprise, surprise . . . a building alongside the river has a familiar look about it.

[ I guess that if we had studied the map more closely we would have noticed the symbol for the weir.]

Boot is famous for it's watermill but this was another, unnoticed old mill in the valley, sadly not in working order.

The wheel structure is still in place but the wooden timber have rotted away.

I wonder how much machinery is left inside ?

The path beyond changes to little more than a rough track

as we head up to the old Peat Houses, normally seen from the vantage point of the Boot to Burnmoor Tarn track.

[ Sorry about the photo quality . . . it was a phone photo.]

On reaching the higher ground and the track, another coffin route by the way, the long distance views return.

There in the distance is Green Crag, Harter Fell and Hard Knott on the southern side of the Esk Valley.

We join the familiar Peat House route (on the right of the map)

and walk right-to-left (as shown on the map) down to the village of Boot.

The first building we come across is the old mill, complete with a shiny new bench !

The mill has been restores after ceasing commercial work as a grain mill in the 1930's.

It is normally open to the public so that you can look around what is thought to be the oldest working mill in England.


It has two waterwheels which drove two separate sets of internal mill wheels

so that the miller could grind different kinds of grain without

having to alter the mill between different batches.

The sign said that when the mill closed for business

the old miller and his wife attached a generator to the water wheel

to provide themselves with electric power.

- - - o o o - - -

Hydro power has returned to the mill, in the form of a third modern wheel, still utilising the water of the Whillan Beck.

This now generates electrical power for the grid and helps pay for the upkeep of the old building and the staffing costs of being open.

The cottage opposite the mill has been busy in their garden with new lawns and raised beds . . . very industrious.

Loes and I back-track slightly in order to take the old railway path to Beckfoot.

This follows the original line of the railway down this side of the valley.  The old station buildings can be seen just ahead.

Heads are turned to see what's happening . . .

No . . . Loes hasn't fallen over, she's just crouched down to read the oddly placed memorial plaque !

The path is known locally as "The Three Foot Track" a reference to the wider gauge of the old mine railway.

The steel bars in the bridge show how much wider the track bed of the old mine railway was, compared to the present narrow gauge system.

We walk the 'old track' past the houses at Dalegarth, from where we draw close to the current rail line.

The three foot tack is now a driveway for the cottages

and leads us down to Beckfoot where we finally cross the narrow gauge line.

No trains today Dylan, they restart in February !

The fine building behind is Stanley House available for small self-catering groups or for larger parties of up to 26 to stay.

A short walk brings us back up the valley road to Trough House Bridge and the car park at the end of our walk today.

- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with my hard working old iPhone 6s.

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

This site best viewed with . . . a surprise lunch break mid walk !

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Previous walk - 11th January -  Round Castle Crag - with Julie

A previous time up here - 17th September 2008 The Eskdale Fells from Boot

Next walk - 17th January -  St Bega and Bassenthwaite Lake