BB1825 : The Old Corpse Road

Thursday 2nd August 2018

The funeral cortege arrived outside the church.  The Vicar came in and asked everyone one to make sure their phones were switched off.  I had arrived early and had already done just that but his request made me want to check.  To make sure, I pressed a button to see and, yes, I inadvertently switched it back on.  Whilst the coffin was being wheeled down the aisle I was pressing and tapping like mad which was only making things worse.  It is actually quite difficult to switch off a phone whilst it is doing all it needs to switch on.  There was only one thing I could do.  Rip the phone open and take out the battery.  That worked and to my immense relief the service could continue uninterrupted.

All this was brought to mind when planning today’s route.  The weather forecast had been all over the place but as of last night it seemed that it would provide the opportunity to discover if we could see the lost village of Mardale.  

A few days earlier, before it rained, might have been better but never-the-less there hadn’t been that much and it ought to be possible to see what is left of the skeleton of the hamlet.

We would park at Swindale Foot and cross over by Harper Hills to join Haweswater near the foot of the Old Corpse Road.

It was surprisingly bright as we set off up the hill, a nice gentle climb compared to many that we have done recently.  It was however rather frustratingly long before we could actually see Haweswater.

The reservoir was low but presumably not as low as last week and certainly less than 1984 and 1975.  Still, you could make out the old walls and roads and imagine where the pub and the church would have been.

Had we reached the road five minutes earlier we would have been in time to be interviewed by an ITV crew who were filming the lake.  It is probably just as well as who knows what outrageous things James might have said on camera.

As you can see, there was some dispute as to where the drowned village was actually situated:

Comitibus: Robin, Mike, James, Stan, Don

We couldn’t linger too long as James had to be back in Kendal for a meeting so after lunch we climbed the Old Corpse Road over to Swindale.  This was the way that the dead of the valley were taken on horseback to Shap for burial.  I pity the poor horses.  The steep winding climb would be hard work when you have the dead weight of a 16 stone farmer on your back.

The weather now wasn’t too great but it did clear as we dropped down into Swindale.  It is a lovely valley, particularly where it climbs over to Mosedale but we weren’t going that way.  Instead we had a road slog back to the car, passing en-route the water control and, we think, electricity generating constructions erected after the floods.

James managed to escape in time for his rendezvous whilst Mike, Robin, Stan and I visited not the graveyard but the Greyhound at Shap.  

This has reopened under new management and after a major refurbishment.  We were not totally convinced by the almost random style wooden furnishing.  They looked like reclamation items. Long benches serving two tables of different heights.  High table created by obvious welding of extensions to the metal legs. Worst of all, from Robin’s standpoint (might not quite be the right word) was the extremely low doorway.  He is to be congratulated for not spilling a drop of the four pints he was carrying when his head came into forceful contact with the frame. Even I, a modest 5 foot 10 and shrinking, had to duck a little.

The other strange thing was that all the pint glasses had holes in the bottom and were filled from below before a watertight disc was placed over the hole.  Bottoms Up, it said.  Weird. None of us had seen anything like that before.  

We wondered, macabrely, if the discs were actually old pennies that were taken from the eyes of the dead to finance the quenching of the thirst of the weary pallbearers.  Afterall, Shap was the end of the Old Corpse Road.

Don, Thursday 2nd August 2018



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Slovenian Smalls

"Is this your first example of Slovenian smalls?" asked Martin S when he sent me these photos for "Margaret's Collection".  He knows that she likes interesting pictures of washing.  He continued:

These were taken at two mountain huts we stayed at on our recent trek up and around Mount Triglav in the Julian Alps."

The trip was a five day trek from Mojstrana to Vrsic going up and around Triglav (2,865m) - a stage from the Cicerone book Trekking in Slovenia. Short distances but loads of exposed scrambling and necky scree slopes! Finished with two days walking the Soca Trail down the Soca River to Bovec and a bit of rafting on crystal clear green water.

Would definitely recommend Slovenia - and the beer's good, and cheap.


Map : OS 1:50k


BB1825 : The Old Corpse Road


Thursday 2nd August 2018



Distance in miles:


Height climbed in feet:


GPX track



Don, James, Mike, Robin, Stan


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