the English Lake District and pack horse bridges.

I don’t normally put holiday snaps on my blog but I know I have quite a few overseas readers who enjoy seeing the scenery. I also want to share my current enthusiasm for pack horse bridges which shows some of the layers of mans footprint on the land.

Last week our children were at an outdoor activity centre for the week so Nicola and I managed to get away for a couple of days together. For those that don’t know the lake district it is a very pretty National Park in the North of England and on a good day it looks like this.

This is Coniston, we visited our friend Owen Jones the oak swill basket maker who lives on the banks of Coniston before heading off for some walking. My work van doubles as a camper when we go off on trips like this and we always take our spooncarving tools and make a few spoons from local wood.

Our first walk was close to Grizedale forest and we came across a beautiful brindge which I had to know more about. I love work like this that is made from local materials and justs fits it’s environment beautifully.

At a glance it seemed like a bridge built for carts but closer inspection revealed it was first a pack horse bridge that had later been widened. This photo of the underside clearly shows the original narrow bridge to the right.

On our second day we climbed Lingmoor Fell starting from Elterwater and walking up through old quary workings.

This is typical of walking on the fells in the Lakes though the weather is not always as good. I love the variety of walling styles which vary within a few hundred yards at times as the local stone changes.

View at the top.

Then we dropped down into Great Langdale for a pub lunch followed by a walk back down the valley, looking at all the bridges as we went. Having seen the one was originally for packhorses now I had to check them all.

This one was too, in fact nearly all of them were. See the narrow original bridge at the far side of this photo. I gues originally all the bridges were packhorse width and then all would have been widened at the same time. It would be interesting to know when.

I wanted to show off this lovely shelter too in a National Trust car park. Built using the local vernacular but adapting it to todays new uses.


Finally half way back to Elterwater we found this bridge which looked at a glance quite like the others but showed no sign of ever having been narrow. I was delighted when Nicola consulted the map and told me we were at “new bridge”.

Having built several timber bridges now and worked with a very good dry stone waller, the natural progresion has got to be to build one of these bridges. I just need to find the right spot and it may take a few years but I often sit on ideas like this for several years before they come to fruition. When the finished bridge could be there in 200 years time then it is worth the wait.

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2 Responses to the English Lake District and pack horse bridges.

  1. The Village Carpenter August 11, 2009 at 1:24 am #

    The landscape is breathtaking! I'm one of your overseas readers who loves to see photos of your countryside. Looks like you had a marvelous vacation.

  2. jmk89 August 11, 2009 at 2:24 am #

    great set of photos. I love the Lakes, although the times I have been there have always been much wetter! One of the delights however is walking all day and then dropping in to one of the various pubs around the disctrict – I especially like the Black Bull in Consiton ( pint of Coniston Bluebird for me) and the Drunken Duck. Your post has reminded me of some very happy times when the lakes were hundred and not thousands of miles away (as they now are)

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