The River Ehen

The River Ehen

The River Ehen is located at Wath Brow. Locally, it is known as Hen Beck. The River Ehen supports the largest freshwater pearl mussel population in England. This may be the last sustainable breeding population.

Exceptionally high densities (greater than 100 m2) are found at some locations, with population estimates for the entire river exceeding 100,000. The conservation importance of the site is further enhanced by the presence of juvenile pearl mussels.

The freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) is an extremely long-lived species of mollusc (a 134 year old mussel was found in Estonia in 1993), found in fast flowing rivers and streams across Europe. The pearl mussel produces small, beautiful pearls inside its thick shell which is anchored to the riverbed. However, freshwater pearl mussels are subject to increasing pressure, and their populations across Europe are listed as threatened by the IUCN due to habitat loss, declining water quality and illegal harvesting to provide pearls for jewellery.

The river Ehen was designated a Special Area of Conservation in 2005. The section of the coast into which it flows was designated as the Cumbria Coast Marine Conservation Zone in 2013.

The River Ehen
The River Ehen
The Fawn Cross

The Fawn Cross

On Jacktrees Road, between Cleator and Cleator Moor, and near the long gone south level crossing, there formerly stood a farmhouse, which collapsed years ago owing to the subsidence of the ground. There, the ancient Fawn Cross stood. It too plunged to the depths, but was recovered following an excavation. Despite the cross crashing down, it was found to be in remarkable condition.

The cross is of red sandstone, cut with a broad chisel, and of good workmanship. The head measures 19 inches across the arms, all three limbs expanding slightly and chamfered on their edges, with a small cockspur at the outer end of each chamfer. The ends are plain, flat, and un-chamfered, and the intersection of the arms is filled by a plain shield in relief on one of the faces. The shaft is broken short.

The Fawn Cross is believed to be medieval in nature, and perhaps pinpointed the direction of a local corpse road, for when a body was being taken to St. Bees for interment.

  • The Fawn Cross can now be found in the gardens of the Ennerdale Country House Hotel in Cleator.
  • Fawn Cross is a corruption of Fallen Cross.
  • Crossfield may take its name from the cross. It is believed the cross originated there.
The Fawn Cross
The Fawn Cross
Kissing Gate

The Kissing Gate

A kissing gate is a type of gate that allows people, but not livestock, to pass through. The normal construction is a half-round, rectangular, trapezoidal or V-shaped part-enclosure with the free end of a hinged gate trapped between its arms.

When the gate is touching an arm it must be pulled or pushed to pass through. The gate may need to be pushed to give access to the small enclosure, and when in the enclosure the person pulls the gate past the bulk of the enclosure to exit. Some examples have latches. Most are installed self-closing, to the side away from the pasture (livestock field), by hinge geometry, a spring or weight.

The name comes from the gate merely “kissing” (touching) the inside of the enclosure. It reliably forms a barrier rather than needing to be securely latched on each use. Examples, as with stiles, on footpaths published as accessible are those replaced, improved or supplemented by gates.

Wooden 'V-Shape' Kissing Gate
Wooden ‘V-Shape’ Kissing Gate
Devoke Water Boathouse

Devoke Water Boathouse

The boathouse at Devoke Water was built around 1772 from stones gathered on the shore of the tarn. It was originally designed to provide shelter, and had a fireplace. Peat was dug from nearby to fuel the fire.

The building was constructed by John Jackson, a farmer from Dalegarth, and John Bowman, a fisherman. Locals would pay 2 shillings a year for the right to fish the tarn.

  • Devoke is pronounce “Duvvock”.
  • A tarn is a mountain lake.

Devoke Water is the largest tarn in the Lake District and is owned by Millom Anglers. It is situated at an altitude of 766ft and has a maximum depth of 46ft. Due to the sparse and low bank side vegetation the tarn lends itself perfectly to the fly fisherman.

Devoke Water Boathouse
Devoke Water Boathouse
Bridge End, Egremont

Bridge End, Egremont

The River Ehen flows through the historic market town of Egremont in West Cumbria. The river supports the largest freshwater pearl mussel population in England. The river is also a breeding ground for Atlantic salmon.

At Bridge End, in Egremont, the river flows past terraced houses overlooking a sometimes raging torrent, and then onwards to the sea. The River Ehen is overlooked by Egremont Castle – a historic castle dating from around the first millennium AD.

In 1565, a stone bridge was built over the River Ehen to access the town. In bygone days, dyeing and weaving were traditional industries based around the River Ehen.

I have come a long way to-day:
On a strange bridge alone,
Remembering friends, old friends,
I rest, without smile or moan,
As they remember me without smile or moan.

All are behind, the kind
And the unkind too, no more
Tonight than a dream. The stream
Runs softly yet drowns the Past,
The dark-lit stream has drowned the Future and the Past.

No traveller has rest more blest
Than this moment brief between
Two lives, when the Night’s first lights
And shades hide what has never been,
Things goodlier, lovelier, dearer, than will be or have been.

Edward Thomas
Bridge End, Egremont
Bridge End, Egremont
Hadrian's Wall Cycleway

Hadrians Wall Cycleway

This footbridge has replaced an earlier railway bridge, which was demolished in the 1970’s. The bridge is on a section of the Hadrian’s Wall Cycleway. The whole route is 170 miles long, taking in Roman forts, museums, quaint villages and attractive market towns – including Hadrians Wall itself.

The route of the cycleway was officially opened in July 2006. The cycleway, signed as National Route 72, can be cycled in either direction, though it is normally cycled west to east. For a detailed description of the route, and a route map, please visit Sustrans.

  • Stretching 73 miles from coast to coast, Hadrian’s Wall was built to guard the wild north-west frontier of the Roman Empire.

Hadrian’s Wall was the north-west frontier of the Roman empire for nearly 300 years. It was built by the Roman army on the orders of the emperor Hadrian following his visit to Britain in AD 122. At 73 miles (80 Roman miles) long, it crossed northern Britain from Wallsend on the River Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west.

Maximum Headroom 8′ 0″
West Cumbria Coast To Coast Cycleway

Just Do It

I began to feel that myself plus the bicycle equaled myself plus the world, upon whose spinning wheel we must all earn to ride, or fall into the sluiceways of oblivion and despair.

That which made me succeed with the bicycle was precisely what had gained me a measure of success in life — it was the hardihood of spirit that led me to begin, the persistence of will that held me to my task, and the patience that was willing to begin again when the last stroke had failed.

And so I found high moral uses in the bicycle and can commend it as a teacher without pulpit or creed. She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.

Frances E. Willard, ‘How I Learned To Ride The Bicycle’, 1895
West Cumbria Coast To Coast Cycleway
West Cumbria Coast To Coast Cycleway
Crummock Water

Dramatic Crummock Water

Crummock Water is located between Loweswater and Buttermere. The lake is 2 ½ miles long, ¾ mile wide and 140 feet deep and is a clear, rocky bottomed lake flanked by steep fells.

The lake is fed by numerous streams including the beck from Scale Force, which with a drop of 170 feet is Lakeland’s tallest waterfall. The waterfall is set back in a gorge part way up Scale Fell, and there are several paths that lead up to the waterfall. The River Cocker starts from here, flowing towards Cockermouth where it joins the River Derwent.

Visiting Crummock Water gives you a chance to see the ‘secret valley’ of Rannerdale where a fabled battle took place. It is said that local settlers and Norsemen resisted invasion from the Normans: they lured them into the valley and slaughtered them all. Come April-May, the valley is covered in bluebells and local legend has it that this is because of the blood spilt.

Crummock Water is owned by the National Trust.

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Crummock Water
Crummock Water

Week In Focus #36

This is picture #36 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. The idea behind the challenge is to get myself outside into the Cumbrian countryside, at least once a week.

  • This week’s photo was taken above Parton, on the west coast of Cumbria.

Parton is a village and civil parish on the Cumbrian coast, overlooking the Solway Firth, 1¼ miles (2 km) north of the town of Whitehaven. Formerly a port and a mining centre, it is now purely residential, benefiting from its location between the A595 trunk road and the Cumbrian Coast railway line.

The sheltered anchorage in Parton Bay was used by the Romans, who had a fort on the high ground to the north of the present village, adjacent to St Bridget’s Church. Later, the bay was used by the inhabitants of Low Moresby, the hamlet which grew up to the east of the old fort in the Middle Ages. In Elizabethan times a number of small merchant vessels were based in the bay, trading as far as Chester; by this time there was probably also a salt-pan in operation. The port was developed in the early 17th century to cater for Moresby’s coal trade, but fell into decline after two generations of the Lowther family turned the hamlet of Whitehaven into a major port.