Boot village 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 mineral railway to Ravenglass to service it. Mining and quarrying continued well into the 20th century. The present Dalegarth terminus was built beside the road in 1926.
The Eskdale end of the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway terminates here at Dalegarth station, with a tea-shop, turntable and large car park.
Crossing the 17th century packhorse bridge over Whillan Beck in Boot Village takes you to Eskdale Mill, which dates back to 1578, where you can visit one of the very few remaining two wheel water corn mills, and learn more about life in Cumbria, its industry and its people.
Housed in a converted barn is the Fold End Gallery, which has exhibited the works of hundreds of crafts-people since 1973.
A short walk from Boot or Dalegarth station takes you to Stanley Ghyll Force, a 60 foot high waterfall in a dramatic deep and narrow gorge, where rhododendrons on high ledges and precipices give an almost oriental feel to the area. You pass Dalegarth Hall on route, built in 1599 – the ancient manor-house of Awsthwaite – and the place of residence of the family of Stanley. In almost every window of the house, were the arms of different branches of the family, blazoned in painted glass.
Hardknott Roman Fort (known to the Romans as MEDIOBOGDUM) is near the Eskdale end of Hard Knott Pass, and is one of the loneliest outposts of the Roman Empire, built between AD120 and AD138. It is on a spectacular site overlooking the pass which forms part of the Roman road from Ravenglass to Ambleside and Brougham at Penrith.
About half a mile from the village, by the River Esk, is St Catherine’s Church, which dates back to the 12th century when the Priory of St Bees owned a chapel here. The setting is magnificent, with a backdrop of Scafell Pike.
Eskdale is a brilliant area for walks, with one leading from the village, past the mill, to Eel Tarn. Another, past the church leads to Doctor Bridge, returning on the opposite river bank emerging at the King George IV pub at Eskdale Green.
Near Doctor Bridge, is the National Trust owned Penny Hill Farm. Another ‘listed’ farmhouse, owned by the National Trust, is Brotherilkeld, near the foot of Hard Knott pass.
At Eskdale Green is the Gatehouse Estate, now the Outward Bound Centre, which was originally planted in 1901, when James H. Rea and the famous landscape architect, Thomas Mawson, set about the creation of ‘a garden to rival Lord Muncaster’s estate’. Although now in slight decline, there are still superb shrubberies, specimen trees and a lovely series of cascades. You can visit the house and grounds at the annual Eskdale Fete.
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