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Last modified: March 02, 2004

South Western Cumbria

Our tour of  South West Cumbria starts at Ravenglass is the coastal terminus of a narrow gauge Steam Railway  which follows the river Esk up the valley to Boot. The seven mile track was originally opened in 1875 to carry ore to the coast and now brings tourists to view the watermill at Boot and a short walk to Dalegarth falls.

Whitehaven is now the main port, but in the past the natural harbour at Ravenglass was of prime importance to the Romans who transported supplies to the north England interior via Eskdale. They built a garrison fortress at the head of the valley on Hardknott Pass to protect the shipments, latterly ore mining kept the port busy into the twentieth century.

Driving north through Holmrook to Gosforth where the largest Norse cross in Britain stands in the churchyard, depicting Christian victory over Pagan beliefs. A few miles further up the coast BNFL's Powers Station at Sellafield has a Visitors Centre explains the Pro's & Con's on Nuclear Power

From Gosforth our Journey turns east through Nether Wasdale to Wast Water, where the scree slopes from the fell tops fall nearly 2,000 feet into the lake. The road by the lake is a dead end stopping at Wasdale Head, overlooked by Napes Needle on the face of Great Gable popular with rock climbers and Scafell Pike, Britain's highest peak.

Cycle as far as you can in Eskdale with a One Way Return Ticket in your pocket with the Steam to get you home.

www.ravenglass-railway.co.uk

Returning to Nether Wasdale we pass Wasdale Hall, taking the road south to Eskdale Green turning up Eskdale to Boot & Dalegarth which is the terminus of the Ravenglass Railway.

The Eskdale Mill at Boot is one of the oldest in Britain, the wheels are driven by the Beck which started its journey only a short distance away on the side of Scafell the highest point in Britain. The original machinery is still in operation grinding Oatmeal daily and open for visitors in the summer months.

At the head of Eskdale we rise over Hardknott Pass over which the Romans  transported supplies from the port of Ravenglass to the interior northern of England interior, they built a garrison fortress on Hardknott Pass to protect the shipments en route from Ravenglass.

Once over Hardknott at Cockley Beck in the plateau before rising over Wrynose Pass we turn south to Birks Bridge and Dunnerdale Forest an ideal location for picnics and walks to view points on Harter Fell and Castle How.

Our journey continues down Dunnerdale through Seathwaite to Ulpha where we turn north over the fells dropping back into Eskdale, before we cross the river to Eskdale Green turn left and follow the river to  Muncaster.

 The Castle has a few tales to tell, having remained in the Pennington family for over 500 years due to Henry VI. He gave the then Sir John Pennington a glass bowl for aiding him after being defeated at the Battle of Towton in 1461, prophesying good fortune for the family as long as it remained unbroken.

A local Jester, a Tom Skelton who often wore a frock would sit under a tree by the river Esk, guiding the less generous traveller to their death crossing the estuary. He later made a pack with his master to kill any suitor of his daughter, he cut off a locals head to prove compliance. His evil antics gained him a reputation as Tom the Fool, hence tomfoolery entered the dictionary and the English Language.

A few miles further completes our journey back on the coast at Ravenglass a visit to Walls Castle and the Roman Bath Houses would end our day peacefully were they still in operation. Alias Glanoventa Fort fort fell into disrepair long before contraband being smuggled in from Ireland via the Isle of Mann became the main trade of the area in the 1,700's

 

Photos and Maps are to follow

Northwest & Coast Lakeside Hotels Guest Houses Country Cottages Parkland Camps  
Southwest & Furness Fell Top Hotels Guest Houses Country Cottages Parkland Camps  

 

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