The Local Area
The Local Area
Caldbeck is a traditional fell village situated in the Northern Fells of the English Lake District or the "Back O' Skidda" as the locals call it.
Almost equidistant from Cockermouth, Keswick, Penrith and Carlisle, this village gem in North Cumbria is well worth a visit!
The area is one of the more remote and lesser known parts of the Lake District, but boasts some outstanding scenery and some of the best, less frequented walking in the whole of the Lake District.
Skiddaw (4th highest in England at 3053 feet high) and Blencathra (2847 feet high) can be reached from the North along quieter footpaths than the usual approaches from the South. There are many other fine fells to explore such as High Pike and Carrock Fell.
The timeless character of the village has been preserved as a conservation area where ponies, sheep, even ducks roam freely.
The village is named after the river (Cald Beck) on which it stands. This river and its tributaries provided the water for the important industrial development of the area in the 17th and 18th centuries - woollen mills, bobbin mills, corn mills, a paper mill and a brewery. The village still reflects this former industrial activity with many of the old mill buildings still in use.
The 12th century St Kentigern's Church is the resting place of the famous local huntsman, John Peel. "Do ye ken John Peel".
Priest's Mill is an old watermill built by a Rector of Caldbeck just below the church, the waterwheel of which is in full working order. The award winning restoration of the mill was completed in 1986 and is used to house a splendid Watermill Cafe overlooking the river, together with interesting shops and workshops.
Just up from the village duck pond (situated in an old clay dubs), there is a popular short walk which follows the river up the Howk, a limestone gorge containing beautiful waterfalls and the picturesque ruins of the old bobbin mill. The Bobbin Mill once had the largest waterwheel in the country, at 3 feet wide, and a 42 feet diameter.
The surrounding fells and woodlands of Caldbeck are easily accessible on foot and there are many signed footpaths. The Cumbria Way also passes through the village as well as two long distance cycle routes nearby, namely the C2C (Coast to Coast) and the Reivers Route.
Dominated by High Pike and the Northern Fells, Caldbeck is a popular village, but never overcrowded - a peaceful oasis in the Northern Lake District.
Mining in the local fells behind Caldbeck began as early as the 13th Century but the hey day was in the 17th century, with the last mine closing in the 1960's. These fells are rich in a variety of minerals, in particular lead, copper and barytes.
It was once a common saying that "Caldbeck and the Caldbeck Fells are worth all England else" because of the extensive range of minerals to be found in the area. The industry is now gone and what remains exist now blend into the countryside.
The "Roughton Stone" in the churchyard of St Kentigern's is in tribute to the men and their families who lived and worked in the mines of Roughton Gill for four hundred years and who now lay in peace in the churchyard. The stone itself was used in the 19th century in its original circular form to process mineral from the mines.
Today Fell Farming remains the most important industry in the area.
There are a few public transport services available such as the Caldbeck Rambler bus service (Service 73 - seasonal). The link is to Cumbria County Council for the most up to date timetable.
However, travelling by car or under your own steam is advised.
The neighbouring village of Hesket Newmarket, 1.5 miles south east of Caldbeck, has a fine wide main street with many 18th century houses and a central Market Cross on the well kept village green. The villages also boast a chapel, a pond, a brewery and a well known traditional pub (The Old Crown), famous for the unique real ales from the Hesket Newmarket Brewery. The annual agricultural Hesket Newmarket Show is held in early September.
Ireby is a former thriving market town with a market cross believed to date back to 1200, now a peaceful haven of quiet. The village pub - the Black Lion - serves good food and real ale. The village is now becoming better know due to the annual Ireby Music Festival.
Wherever you wander in the Northern Fells, you'll love it!