On a recent holiday to the county of Cumbria in the north-west of England, the delightful assistants and I visited some lovely little villages. The first of these was Caldbeck, which sits on the northern edge of the Lake District National Park. It was misty and atmospheric as we approached.
We parked on the outskirts of the village and walked in towards the tearoom we were heading for. It was extremely quiet, with no traffic or other people about.
On the way we passed the Cald Beck (a ‘beck’ is a stream), which provided water for various mills during the 17th and 18th centuries. A road runs along one side of it, with old stone-built cottages on the other. The addition of bird feeders along the bank was, I thought, a nice touch.
Our tearoom destination was The Old Smithy which, going by the name and the look of the outside, was once a blacksmith’s establishment.
Inside, the tearoom had simple, old-fashioned appeal with whitewashed walls and old timber beams.
Having recently finished breakfast, some of us weren’t ready for more food (this didn’t include yours truly). We ordered one fruit scone and coffees all round.
The scone was a slightly unusual looking little thing, but it was packed with fruit and slipped down a treat.
Thus fortified, and warmed up a bit after the cold air outside, we ventured forth for a wander through the rest of the village.
We passed some beautiful leaves spilling over a wall
and a cat getting some shut-eye on a table outside the village pub.
A little further on we came to St Kentigern’s Church, standing at the end of a path through recently mown grass in the graveyard.
Making our way towards the church, we admired some beautifully carved headstones and a building over the churchyard wall with fancy windows. There was a pleasingly lop-sided look about it all.
One of the gravestones is particularly famous, thanks to a 19th Century song called ‘Do ye ken John Peel?’ The John Peel in question was a farmer and huntsman who was born in Caldbeck in the 1770s.
The song was written in Cumbrian dialect by John Woodcock Graves, a friend of Peel’s. It was published in a book of Cumberland songs and became very well known, to the extent that at some point along the way it even got lodged in my brain. I would imagine that many of my fellow Brits will have heard of it even if, like me, they don’t know how or when they absorbed the information.
St Kentigern’s is an Anglican parish church and the oldest bits of it date back to the 12th and 13th Centuries, although there was a previous church on this site in the 6th Century. The main part of the building is constructed from sandstone, with the tower (which was built in stages) made from a combination of limestone and sandstone.
There were several people inside the church, busy with preparations for a Harvest Thanksgiving service the following day. Bits of greenery and fruits had been strung up on the pillars, as you can perhaps make out in the picture below.
In window recesses artistic displays had been created using fruits, vegetables, jars of preserves, flowers, greenery and other produce. The smell of fresh apples throughout the church was delicious.
In addition to the colour provided by harvest produce, there were some magnificently bold stained glass windows.
Caldbeck’s parish church is one of eight in the north of Cumbria dedicated to St Kentigern, who was also known as St Mungo (which I believe means ‘dear friend’). St Kentigern/Mungo was going about his business in the 6th Century, and when it came to baptising converts in Caldbeck he made use of a well next to the churchyard. The well is still in existence, near an old packhorse bridge.
After looking at the well, we sauntered along a broad path beside the churchyard wall, back towards the car park. It had remained cold and foggy during our visit, which added to the intrigue and mystery of the place.
If ever you roll up on the northern edge of the Lake District wondering what to do with yourself I can highly recommend a visit to the pretty village of Caldbeck. After our time there we tootled along to a splendid tearoom in the nearby village of Uldale, which I hope to post about anon.