Caldbeck

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.

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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.

walking through Caldbeck

Delightful assistants walking through the peaceful village of Caldbeck.

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.

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Our tearoom destination was The Old Smithy which, going by the name and the look of the outside, was once a blacksmith’s establishment.

The Old Smithy

DA1 entering tearoom

Inside, the tearoom had simple, old-fashioned appeal with whitewashed walls and old timber beams.

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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.

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Thus fortified, and warmed up a bit after the cold air outside, we ventured forth for a wander through the rest of the village.

Caldbeck village

We passed some beautiful leaves spilling over a wall

leaves

and a cat getting some shut-eye on a table outside the village pub.

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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.

St Kentigern's Caldbeck

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.

St Kentigern's graveyard

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.

John Peel's gravestone.

John Peel’s gravestone.

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.

St Kentigern's

Note the lawnmower in front of the porch. After wandering round the graveyard our shoes bore evidence of the recent grass cutting.

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.

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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.

window display

window recess

In addition to the colour provided by harvest produce, there were some magnificently bold stained glass windows.

stained glass at st kentigern's

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.

packhorse bridge

Packhorse bridge.

St Kentigern's well

Steps leading down to the rather overgrown St Kentigern’s well (where the mossy stones are towards the bottom right of the picture). I peered into the undergrowth and didn’t much fancy the colour of the water in it.

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.

path beside churchyard

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.

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Houses beside the river in scenic Caldbeck.

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22 thoughts on “Caldbeck

  1. Lorna, you find the prettiest and most interesting of places! Love this – the old cottages, the tearoom, the church and the well. I seem to remember a St Kentigern place name up here in Scotland. I shall have to have a look! These saints sometimes mopped around the country quite a lot.

    • Thank you, Jo. I think you’re right about St Kentigern. I read somewhere that he moved to Cumbria from Scotland before heading on into Wales. That must have been quite an adventure in the 6th Century.

    • Sorry about that (I still get the Madonna song popping into my head when I catch sight of your book spine, Borderline). The weather was mixed during our holiday, but it certainly started off cloudy, cold and foggy.

  2. Ha 🙂 I like ‘misty and atmospheric ‘. That has to be the ‘tired and emotional’ of weather terms I think 🙂 As always, you make everything look beautiful. Wanna swap houses? 🙂 We can’t really, of course, but it would be a very nice idea I think.

  3. A minor observation regarding the theme Lorna – If you wish to comment you scroll to the bottom but to move through recent posts you have to scroll all the way back up – when you are looking through many posts it is a protracted process 🙂

    • I know what you mean, I’ve experienced the same problem when reading other people’s blogs. My main concern is to use a theme with a clear font, which is surprisingly hard to find. If I was designing my own one I would certainly make changes but you’re restricted if you use the free ones. I think most visitors read only one post per average visit, so for me the clear font is the driving factor. It would be great if I could have that and a better way of scrolling through though, I agree.

  4. A wonderful post Lorna, with some excellent photos!! 🙂
    The fruit scone certainly lived up to it’s name, I’m not sure if it would be possible to get any more fruit in it!!
    What a brilliant idea by the locals to put bird feeders up on the side of the beck 🙂
    The windows in the building over the church wall are quite fascinating, they look very ‘Wesleyan’. Many Methodist chapels in Cornwall have similar looking windows.
    The old church is beautiful, but just as well I wasn’t with you Lorna, I would have been looking for corals and brachiopods in the Carboniferous Limestone that would have been used for some of the blockwork. LOL!! 🙂
    Fascinating to know that the John Peel from the folk song ‘Do ye ken John Peel?’, came from Caldbeck. I think the Dorset folk group The Yetties used to sing that particular song as part of their repertoire.

    • Thank you, Andy. I don’t know who put the bird feeders up but I imagine it was perhaps the people whose gardens lead down to the river. It is, as you say, a great idea. Those windows overlooking the churchyard are very eye-catching aren’t they? I don’t know if that building has any religious connections but it might well do. It didn’t occur to me to scour the limestone blocks for fossils, I’m sorry to say. I didn’t know anything about John Peel before, so that was interesting to learn.

      • I’m terrible when it comes to any old buildings, the geology of the stonework is always my first port of call, then I look around and discover how amazing the building might be 🙂 I had a quick look on Google earlier, and it appears that there is quite a strong Methodist movement in Cumbria, so those window designs may well be influenced by the Wesleyan culture of Georgian times.

        • Now that you mention it, there was a Methodist church up the road from the CofE in Caldbeck and I did see one somewhere else, too. Your passion for the stonework is entirely understandable. 🙂

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