Grid Reference : NY 238388
Ireby nestles in the peaceful fells of the northern Lake District, in the beautiful area to the north of Keswick known as ‘Back of Skiddaw’. Once a thriving market town, with the market cross believed to date back to 1200, Ireby is now a truly unspoilt, peaceful fell village.
In 1237 Ireby received its market charter and developed into a thriving sheep market. Four small roads meet in the centre of the village, where a moot hall and butter cross suggest something of the village’s former high profile in this part of England. In 1726 Ireby School was founded to educate eight poor children from the parish.
At one time there were four pubs in the village. The Sun public house was one of John Peel’s favourite haunts. The Tun Inn had a reputation for regional dancing, which included the Ninepins Reel and the Cumberland Square Eight. These dances were mistaken by John Keats for Scottish dances when he visited Ireby on a walking holiday. He liked the village and people, and made favorable comments about them in his writing.
One and ½ miles north of the village in a field off a very narrow road lies the 12th century Ireby Old Church. It’s best to walk there; the road is too narrow for parking. The chancel is all that remains of the original church. The stones of the church’s nave were removed to construct the new Gothic style church, St James, in Ireby, which opened on December 6th, 1846.
The church of All Saints in the nearby village of Boltongate, is according to Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, one of the architectural sensations of Cumbria. The pretty little church St James is halfway between Ireby and nearby Uldale village.
Overwater is the most northerly lake in the Lake District and is only a couple of miles from Ireby. It is one of the smaller lakes and almost certainly the least visited, but it is no less picturesque.
The peaks of Great Calva and Knott look down on the village of Ireby, which is now a delightfully quiet and restful place, although there was a time in its history when it was a busy market town. The nearby Aughertree Fell was the site of a Bronze Age farm and the remains of a pre-Roman road are still in evidence.
Quite uniquely, the enclosures at Aughertree Fell lie at the centre of an extensive field system which covers almost the entire fell. Because the fell is mostly uncultivated common land, this is probably the best preserved and most complete settlement and field system which exists from the Iron Age period.
All of the hills at the back of Skiddaw and Blencathra are within easy reach and there are many more gentle walks to be had around the local Ireby and Uldale area.
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