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Countrystride #70: CALDBECK - A community through time

…in which we descend from the Outlying Fells summit of Faulds Brow into the Back o’Skiddaw village of Caldbeck with local historian Tony Vaux to take a long view of a community through time. From the Brow – with a remarkable view into Galloway – we reach farmed country, where fortified barns tell of riever raids and the hue-and-cry that once mustered resistance. Entering the village, we unearth the clay-dubbin heritage of the duck pond and learn why human urine was once in high demand. Ambling upstream, we come upon the bobbin mill – a remarkable remnant of industrial Caldbeck, when dozens of pubs and mills served hundreds of workers. Discovering why tungsten from the Caldbeck fells – initally plundered for armour plating by German miners – helped turn the tide of World War I, we close with reflections on the village’s most famous son, and learn why John Peel’s coat was never meant to be ‘gay’, but Herdwick ‘Hodden’ grey.

  • You can buy Tony’s book ‘Caldbeck: A Special Part of Lakeland' (£9 plus P&P) by emailing him direct at

The Caldbeck valley.

Our guest: local historian Tony Vaux.

Fortified farmstead.

Descending to Caldbeck.

Tony and Dave in a traditional hay meadow.

Carrock Fell and ewes.

The old clay pit - now Caldbeck's duck pond.

The bobbin mill - once the largest of Caldbeck's mills.

The Howk - The fall here gave the drop needed to power the bobbin mill's water wheel.

Where Mary 'Maid of Buttermere' Robinson finally found solace.

'D'ye ken John Peel?' was composed here.


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