The North Lakes is well known for its beauty and isolation but this tranquil tourist beacon still hides many untold secrets within its nooks and crannies. From peculiar geographical features and medieval routes to derelict dwellings and haunted limestone quarries, the fells are not as innocent as they first appear. The clay-pipe-smoking, broad-speaking Cumbrians who told all the tall tales of this lonely place are dying out as quickly as the rural Inns in which they sat. There’s a myriad of uncharted history to dig up and a wishing-well worth of stories left to tell.
In the Middle Ages, settlers would have owned strips of land to farm on. These were originally marked out with gullies or trenches and were accessed by tracks such as the one photographed. Evidence of the horses and ploughs which travelled this path hundreds of years ago can still be found among the roots and rocks which line these ghostly routes.
Limestone pushes its way out of various parts of Clints Crags in very curious ways. The stones pictured appear manufactured on first inspection but this formation is entirely natural. The crevices between the stones are surprisingly deep in places. The sheer size of these cracks, and the condition of the struggling, stunted trees creeping out of the gaps, makes it easy to remember that this limestone pavement predates man. Quite rightly, it is a site of significant scientific interest due to its prehistoric fossils and rare flora and fauna.
The walls and many of the older houses in the area are built out of limestone so it is no surprise that there are a lot of quarries and mines riddling the landscape. Many of the very old quarries have no records, but those which do have written logs, detail the multiple fatalities caused by falling stone and explosions. The surnames of the men who lost their lives in these terrifying craters exist today in the current local communities so many ghosts can still be recalled walking the depths of the burrowed fells.
A true gem of this eerily quiet corner of The Lakes is this farm house which is entirely cut off from any modern road. Even though its structure is crumbling, there is a beekeeper’s hive in the rear garden and an old sink has been brought ‘outside’ for livestock to drink from. Now unwanted, this calm and peaceful place was clearly once a warm home to a farmer long deceased. Ramblers can only look on and wonder who he was and what became of him. Learn more at Visit Cumbria.
Keep reading – explore the Lonely Abandoned Cottages of Britain and Ireland.