Eskdale Mill in art-1

This print, is based on an engraving of Eskdale Mill, Wilton Beck, Cumberland, by the artist Thomas Allom, engraved by A le Petit, 1833.

This beautiful evocative print derives from a 2 volume set written in 1832, amongst the earliest “tourism books”. Its capturing of the place, and its energy is still as relevant and interesting now as when it was published over 180 years ago.

Eskdale Mill Rose 1832 -35

Originally published in “Westmorland, Cumberland, Durham, and Northumberland”, Illustrated, by H Fisher, R Fisher and P Jackson, Newgate Street, London, 1832-35.

Interestingly Whillan Beck is written as Wilton Beck. A mistaken Cumbrian dialect?

book spine
You can still get them!

The accompanying text expounded the delights of the location

“In Cumberland are two rivers of the name of Esk: one of which, after flowing through the beautiful valley of Eskdale, continues its course, till it at length falls into the sea at Ravenglass.

At the head of Eskdale, some remains of a Roman fortress are still visible. The scenery of the vale comprises some of the most picturesque objects in the lake district, including Birker Force and Stanley Gill. A few dispersed dwellings are scattered in the valley, surrounded by rocky knolls, beautifully enriched with trees, and bordered by uplands, on which large flocks of sheep graze in undisturbed quiet.

The ready and powerful aid constantly afforded by the mountain streams, has naturally led to the erection of many water-mills in this romantic district; one of these forms a prominent object in the present Illustration.

Amongst the choice morceaux provided in this seat of the picturesque for the gratification of the pictorial gourmand, few can be met with more suitable for artistic effect than Eskdale Mill. Free from all stiffness of outline and architectural precision, its rude appearance harmonizes well with the rich accompaniments that nature has cast around it. The wheel and stream, the rocky knolls and clustering foliage, and the glimpse obtained of the upland pasturages, combine together with amazing effect, and produce a picture richer in composition than any that might be wrought from the artist’s imagination.”

morceaux  – a short artistic composition.

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Rebuilding the Boot Wall

Living here in Boot, we are constantly reminded of the fact that “our ancestors were mighty men” to quote the Duke of Chalfont in Kind Hearts and Coronets and erected a landscape of stone walls that endorse that sentiment.

Wainwright too had a soft spot in his heart for the men who laboured to build these testaments to changes in land ownership and agricultural practices, that have endured long after the commissioner and builders have been forgotten.

For those who don’t know, the Lake District is criss-crossed by a network of walls – normally enclosing fields in a logical pattern, but often not – going off in wild directions, hugging crags, or even just stopping, seemingly without reason. The mightiest celebration of the wallers imaginative pattern making occurs in our neighbouring Wasdale, where walls assumed enormous width and the title of consumption walls, for the amount of stone they er, well, consumed. When viewed from above on Great Gable the patterns are breathtaking.

Kirk Fell_62

But perhaps even more amazing is that many of these walls are approaching 200 plus years old and they have stood that amount of time without mortar or cement holding them up.

A dry stone wall is a mosaic of carefully placed rocks held together by the action of the rocks meshing and gripping together and the force of gravity. Over time the walls are buffeted by winds, rain,frost, snow and the passage of sheep, dogs and occasionally people scrambling over them. Eventually they succumb and the walls will give at a point of weakness. Driving over the fell road near Black Coombe is a wonderful example of that decay, a wall no longer functioning or required and abandoned to its fate. It gives the appearance of an impromptu roller coaster , with gaps gradually linking up the remaining standing areas until it will return into the fellside from which it was won.

But for us in Boot at the Mill Trust, a break in a wall can let sheep or people into areas we would prefer them not to be, so when the wall just at the point where the corpse road leaves the village of Boot collapsed recently it was time to dust off some little used skills and get walling again.

The stone hereabouts is mainly Granite boulders, mostly about the size of a person head, but about 5 times as heavy. So firstly the wall needed to be made safe by stripping back the wall to where it stands securely and down to its firmer foundation stones. This is done slowly so as the gap doesn’t want to be made wider than it needs and the stones are sorted out into like with like as you go. With the infill made of smaller stones making a separate pile (next time I need a bucket).

This particular wall was abutted against the intake wall (where the cultivated areas stop and the fellside proper begins) and stands about 6 feet tall, it’s going to be slow work – not the 6 metres a day of the skilled local wallers.

Stripping the wall back is now completed and revealed the obligatory old broken glass bottle. Some initial work has been undertaken to begin rebuilding it, now I need to think about how I can get into the field on the other side as it grows in height!