Businesses in Caldbeck Towns and Villages of Cumbria


Caldbeck by Roger SmithThe ‘Back O'Skidda’ is the local name for the area in which the village of Caldbeck is situated. This area is more remote and less known than any other in the Lake District-a great place for walkers who want to escape the busy southern fells. Hedgerows, wildflowers, wild garlic, red squirrels and trout are part of the bounty a walker discovers.

Caldbeck Village pond By Graeme DougalLocated on high land, Caldbeck is mostly treeless and wind-swept. It hasn't always been ‘back of beyond’. Lead, copper, and barytes (a mineral form of barium sulphate) mining were big industries here, bringing wealth to their owners in the16th and 17th centuries. In 1790 a Mr. Row opened a lead mine and erected the Little Smelting Works, at nearby Carrock Fell. The area is still of interest to geologists. The Caldbeck Fells are renowned particularly for mimetite, pyromorphite, hemimorphite, and plumbogummite. Once the mines were in full operation, a saying was coined: ‘Caldbeck and the Caldbeck fells are worth all England else’.

Caldbeck Priests Mill 1702 corn,1933saw, now craft and cafe By Graeme DougalMilling-corn, woollen, bobbin, and paper-took advantage of the Cold Beck River as a source of power. Some sources say there were 8 mills here, others say 13. A bobbin mill, powered by a 42ft in diameter wheel, was, at the time, the second largest wheel in the world.

Half a mile from Caldbeck lies the limestone gorge and woods known as the Howk, where waterfalls and the ruins of the bobbin mill wait to be explored. The Priest's Mill, beside the church, was built in 1702 by the vicar, who also built the church steeple. First used for grinding corn, then as a sawmill and joiner's workshop, then flooded out, it is today restored and offers a vegetarian restaurant and shops.Caldbeck old bobbin mill by mauldy

By the end of the 18th century, Caldbeck was a self-sufficient community with almost 2000 residents. The first building at Caldbeck was probably a hospice for travellers erected by the monks from the priory at Carlisle. In the 12th century the monks built the large St Kentigern's Church, dedicated to the saint of the same name, who was thought to have preached here in AD553 on his journey from Scotland to Wales.

Caldbeck Church By Barbara BallardThe core of the church is now 13th century. Rebuilding and renovations were completed in the 16th century, then the steeple was added in 1727. Mining money helped with the restoration of the church. The entire church was restored in 1932, when Burma teak beams were added to the roof. St Kentigern and St Cuthbert are reflected in stained glass windows. The last days of Jesus, an older stained glass window, dates from 1867. The church contains a 14th century font. Nearby, the church rectory and its Gothic windows are 18th century, as are many of the cottages in the village centre.

Behind the church lies St Mungo's well, where it is said Christians were baptized in the 6th century. St Mungo was an important person in the Christian church in the 6th and early 7th centuries, spending his time in central and southern Scotland, northern England, and Wales. He is the patron saint of Glasgow and St Asaph's.

Caldbeck Bridge By Nigel UttingAn arched stone footbridge crosses the Caldbeck river behind the church where Friar Row-stone cottages tiled with Cumberland slate-were built in the early 19th century. Caldbeck Pond, called in the 19th century “Claydubs”, was a claypit for brick and tile works.

Caldbeck became famous because of a song, D'ye KenJohn Peel:

“Yes, I ken'd John Peel, with his coat so gray,
He lived at Caldeck [sic] once on a day,
But now he's gone and he's far, far away;
And we shall ne'er hear his horn in the morning.”

Caldbeck cottages By Graeme DougalThe subject of the song, John Peel, was a well-known huntsman and hard drinker. He hunted mostly on foot. Parkend, about a mile from Caldbeck, is reputed to be his birthplace. The stone building was built c1650 and was originally the stables and hayloft to a neighbouring farm. It is now a restaurant and hotel. Peel was born in 1776, one of thirteen children. He formed his own hunting pack and became famous for the success of his pack.

Caldbeck grave ofJohn Peel by Philip HallingThe song, written by a friend after a day of hunting, was inspired by a lullaby, Bonnie Annie, to which the friend wrote hunting words. It was first sung at the Rising Sun Inn and was an instant hit locally. The choirmaster of Carlisle Cathedral wrote new music for the song in 1869 that propelled it to national prominence. The song eventually became the adopted anthem of the Border Regiment. Peel's coat of grey, referred to in the song, comes from hodden-grey, a fabric woven from the undyed wool of the Herwick sheep of the fells.

Caldbeck St Kentigerns Church by mauldyPeel, whose portraits show him to be cold and hard natured, died from a fall from a horse. He is buried in the churchyard (Nov. 1854). His headstone is elaborately carved with hunting horns and a whip. Such was his fame from the song that 3,000 people turned out for his funeral.

Dominated by High Pike and the Caldbeck Fells, the farming community of Caldbeck looks toward the southern fells, but is quietly itself-a great escape.

Photos by Barbara Ballard and courtesy of Graeme Dougal , Roger Smith , mauldy , Philip Halling , Nigel Utting

Caldbeck is on the B5299 11 miles (17km) SW of Carlisle

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