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Lake District Towns and Villages

Boot in the Lake District National Park

Boot, 'the bend in the valley', is situated in the lovely valley of Eskdale, a short walk from Dalegarth, the terminus of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, and at the foot of Hardknott Pass, perhaps the steepest and most difficult road in the Lake District. It is very pictureque village consisting mainly of a few stone cottages,a shop, a farm, an inn, and a corn mill, all tucked under the rocky outcrop of Great Barrow. However it has a fair amount of accommodation and services, making it an good base for extended walks in the valley.

There has always been some industry in the area and Boot grew up with the discovery of iron ore in the fell side to the north. The Whitehaven Iron Mines Company operated Nab Gill mine and built the 'Ratty ' railway line to take the ore down the valley to Ravenglass, in 1875. The company closed in 1882 but mining and quarrying continued in this area until well into the 20th century.

Over a pretty pack horse bridge is Boot, or Eskdale Mill. as it is known. It dates back to 1578, though milling had been a part of this valley's life since the 13th century. It was purchased by the Cumbria County Council in 1972 and restored housing a permanent exhibition illustrating the techniques of milling grain of different types. There are also displays of Eskdale's farming history. It's a working museum, it's two waterwheels are powered by Whillan Beck as it tumbles down from Scafell, England's highest mountain. The track that leads off to the right by the mill is the old corpse road from Wasdale.

The village pub is called the Burnmore Inn, a traditional hikers inn, with good accommodation, food and a beer garden. A short distance from the villge centre is another popular pub called the Woolpack Inn. Also a short distance away, nestling under Eskdale Fell is Eskdale Youth Hostel.

St Catherine's, the parish church of Eskdale occupies a lovely spot by the river Esk. It is a tiny church, built in the 17th century and containg some interesting tombstones, including an impressive headstone for Tommy Dobson, much admired Master and founder of the Eskdale foxhounds.

Hardknott Castle, the ruins of a Roman fort called Mediobogdum, lies a couple of miles to the east of the village in a commanding position on the sunnit of Hardknott Pass. Romans were garrisoned here to protect the road they had built linking the fort at Ambleside with the port at Ravenglass. In the care of English Heritage, it is simply one of the most impressive relics of the Roman occupation in this country and because of its isolatin and inaccessibity , the remains have been relatively undisturbed. It provides some spectacular views down the valley on a clear day.

Eskdale is an excellent place for walking, remaining relatively quite when most other places are busy.

Housed in a converted barn in the attractive village of Boot is the Fold End Gallery. The gallery has exhibited the works of hundreds of crafts-people since 1973. There are original water-colours, etchings, pastels, steel sculptures, bronzes, wood carvings, hand blown glass and hand made ceramics.

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