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Hesket Newmarket is a small village situated just inside the northern edge of the Lake District National Park, nestling in the Caldbeck fells. It is a collection of mainly 18th century cottages, gathered around a village green and a market cross. It was little more than a hamlet until the 18th century, when the market charter was granted, but it never really caught on as a market town, and the market had closed by the end of the 19th century.
There is a quiet main street, a village shop, a pub, a covered market cross and a strange hall.
Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins once passed through in 1857 on a walking holiday. Behind the market cross is a house called ‘Dickens House’.
Hesket Hall is a square house with a large central chimney, built around 1630 for Sir Wilfrid Lawson of Isel Hall, twice MP for Cockermouth. The shape of the house is all angles and annexes – the story goes that it was built this way so that shadows from the twelve corners of the building act as a sundial.
In 1988 Jim and Liz Fearnley, who at that time ran the Old Crown Inn, set up a microbrewery in a converted barn at the back of the pub. The beers were brewed exclusively for the Old Crown, which soon became a Mecca for real ale enthusiasts. When the Fearnley’s announced their intention to retire in 1999, a group of local enthusiasts came together and formed a community enterprise – the Hesket Newmarket Brewery Cooperative to ensure the survival of the brewery in the village.
Caldbeck lies a mile or so to the west, and a few miles further on are the wide expanses of Uldale common with wonderful panoramic views to Skiddaw and the high fells of central Lakeland. Going East takes you past the hills at the “Back o’ Skidda’” to Mungrisdale, and on to Ullswater. Carrock Fell is famous for its unusual rocks and minerals.
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