Out and About

River Esk

Here is a quick guide, from top to bottom, following the Esk through Eskdale.

It all starts on the high fells, near Esk Hause, a stream forms and tumbles down through Esk Gorge, a wonderful grade 3 scramble, to Lingcove Bridge, the first stone bridge over the Esk. and a lovely place to swim in summer.

Still awhile before any inhabited dwellings are reached, the river widens and cascades towards Brotherilkeld and Taw House, the the first farms the river meets. Sitting above Brotherilkeld is an older dwelling, darker with history, it is Hardknott Roman Fort, holding position in readiness against invaders from the sea and the North, walk its walls on a clear day with views down the valley to the Isle of Man and the Irish Sea.

Down the valley we go, with more woodland, farmland and habitation, the YHA first, then the Woolpack Inn with maybe the most remote vodka bar in the country. The Eskdale campsite alongside Hows Wood BB soon approach, with Hows Wood waiting to be discovered.

A stones through from the campsite is Brook House Inn, at the crossroads for Boot village and the Church of St Catherines. This is the old corpse road used to bring the dead for burial from Wasdale and beyond. The village is home to the Boot Inn and Eskdale Corn mill, which(to my knowledge) is the only working mill in the Lake District. The Church sits by the river as it has for centuries, stepping stones cross, and an old bridge from the iron mining era provides access to paths up and down the valley, not forgetting Stanley Ghyll and Dalegarth Falls.

The river meanders through the valley, passing farmsteads, ancient oaks and brushing the road from time to time. Forge bridge is soon reached, the rivers nearest point to Eskdale Green, which has 2 pubs and a village shop for all things required. The river travels on skirting the foot of Muncaster Fell as it follows the Birkby Road, finding a secluded golf course and being surveyed by Muncaster Castle, just before passing under the A595 and making a dash for the sea at Ravenglass. The final bridge is the West Coast Railway as the river swings round the dunes at Esk Meals and makes its escape.

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