Businesses in Threlkeld Towns and Villages of Cumbria

Threlkeld

(See also Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum)

Threlkeld by Mick GarrattThrelkeld's cottages wind their way along a narrow road, overshadowed by the mass of Blencartha. The hills around Threlkeld were heavily wooded in prehistoric times, and the valley was a swamp; but the area, like most of Cumbria's landscape, was much altered when settlements were established. The village history reaches back more than 800 years. As far back as AD 900 there was a settlement in the area near the quarry. The Romans were here from the 3rd to the 8th centuries.

The Norse arrived here. The village name comes from their language and means “the well of the thrall”-a thrall being a bonded servant. Threlkeld Hall, now just a pile of stones, was named after the village and gave rise to the family name when Sir Lancelot de Threlkeld took it as his own. He owned three homes: one for pleasure, another for profit and warmth in the winter, and Threlkeld Hall to provide him with tenants to send to war.

Threlkeld St Marys Google MapsIn the early 13th century a place of worship was established in the village. Until 1777 it was also used as a school, but when the old church was torn down, a separate school, now a private home, was built for the village. Although St Mary's church dates from 1777, it was heavily restored in 1910-11. The sanctuary is panelled in oak, and the floor of the church is tiled. The bell tower and the two bells came from a former church. They are at least 500 years old. A monument in the churchyard honours members of the Blencathra Hunt. Inscribed on the monument is a verse by John Gay: “The Forest Music is to hear the Hounds,. . . .”

Threlkeld Horse and Farrier Inn Google MapsHunting has always been an important part of Threlkeld's history. The area is the home of the Blencathra Hunt, a famous Lakeland pack. In the Lakeland area, hunts were traditionally done on foot, not horseback. Sheepdog trials each summer are a popular event and include foxhound and terrier shows and hound trailing. The local pub, the Horse and Farrier, built in 1688, catered to the foxhunters. Another old pub, the Salutation Inn, also survives.

Threlkeld The Salutation Inn by Roger CornfootIn 1587 starvation and typhus hit the village. In 1597 and 1623 famine was again a visitor. Threlkeld was the scene of many packhorse trains and cattle and sheep droves. A stagecoach once brought travellers to the village. Before modern times Threlkeld was an isolated village, and farming was the mainstay occupation. It was the opening of the mines that changed the village and brought outsiders to the area.

Lead and zinc were mined at Gategill Mine on nearby Blencathra in the early 1900's, and miners cottages were built into the terraced hillsides. Quarrying for granite continued in the area until the 1980's.

Threlkeld cottages by Google MapsThe Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum, in a former granite quarry, tells the story in its mining history room. Between 1880-1900, 10,000 tons of galena and 13,400 tons of zinc were mined. Up to 100 men were employed, some walking from Keswick. Many original buildings and equipment still survive. A geology room interprets local rocks and quarrying. There are vintage excavators, an engine house, and narrow gauge locomotives at the site. Samples of various minerals including quartz are still found along the mountain paths.

The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway, built for carrying mining material, opened in 1864. Passengers were able to use it a year later. The train ceased operations in 1972 when the Threlkeld station closed.

Threlkeld and Blease Gill from Threlkeld Knotts by Peter McDermottSteep sided Blencathra (also called Saddleback) looms over the village, sheltering it from the north. It's a popular walking mountain, affording many ways to the top. Three ridges lead to the summit from Threlkeld village. The mountain's arms are named Blease, Gategill, Hall's, Doddick, and Scales. Famous Lakeland walker Wainwright devotes 35 pages to Blencathra in his Guide to the Northern Fells. To the south Clough Head offers views, walks, quarries, and a Celtic settlement.

Scales Tarn is set on the eastern edge of the mountain. It's noted for its bleak aspect and was written about in Sir Walter Scott's poem The Bridal of Triermain. Robert Southey wrote in 1829: “. . .A wild spot it is as ever was chosen by a cheerful party where to rest. . . .the green mountain, the dark pool, the crag under which it lies. . . .”

Threlkeld Blencathra Centre by Mick GarrattOn the hillside above the village, the Blencathra Holiday Centre opened in 1904, serving as a sanatorium for turberculosis patients. It was thought fresh, cold air cured the disease. The Blencathra Centre is part of the Field Studies Council and runs programs on the Lake District. The Centre offers spectacular views into St John's in the Vale.

Threlkeld Pied Flycatcher by Pete WalkdenPied flycatchers breed in the area, one of only four such spots in Britain. The Glenderamackin River (Glen-der-a means “ valley of the water of the river) flows near the village joining St John's Beck. The village is now most used as the starting point to ascents of Blencathra.

Photos courtesy of Google Maps , Pete Walkden and Mick Garratt , Roger Cornfoot , Peter McDermot The Geograph Britain and Ireland project.

Threlkeld off the A66, 3.5 miles east of Keswick

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