Bridges Around Keswick
We often take our bridges for granted. That is, until they are out of action, often caused by adverse weather conditions, and then a long diversion may be necessary until the bridge can be repaired or replaced. Around Keswick you'll find bridges both ancient and modern. Whilst walking in the area you will come across numerous packhorse bridges which linked together the packhorse trails. In the 1700's, before improvements to the road networks were made, the trails were used to transport goods of all kinds around the fells and valley. The low sides of the bridges were designed so as not to get in the way of the loads with a single arch to form a simple strong structure capable of carrying huge weights. Many are classified as listed buildings due to their historical or architectural interest. In our latest blog we share with you some of the bridges around Keswick both old and new.
Keswick to Threlkeld Railway Trail
Nowhere was the effects of the weather so clearly demonstrated than along the recently re-opened Keswick to Threlkeld Railway Tail. Two of the original Victorian railway bridges that cross the River Greta were washed away resulting in two new bridges being constructed and a third being extensively repaired. The former board walk has been replaced by a tunnel. There are now regular seats along the route with a picnic area close to the entrance of the tunnel. Panels along the length of the trail display information about local nature and wildlife, the history of the railway and the bobbin mill.
Thanks to David Woodthorpe for this stunning image of the double arched bridge in the village of Grange in Borrowdale. Four miles South of Keswick the bridge, which spans the River Derwent, takes you from the main Borrowdale valley road into the village. The river side here is a popular stopping place for picnics. The bridge dates back to 1675.
Chinese bridge, as it is known locally, so called due to its shallow arch, crosses the River Derwent just before it enters Derwentwater with views towards the Skiddaw range. The wooden bridge it replaced was also known as Chinese bridge due to the style of the bridge. To the South of Chinese bridge the valley narrows into the spectacular 'Jaws of Borrowdale'. You'll cross this bridge as part of the Derwentwater Walk, a 10 mile low level route around the lake. It can also be enjoyed as a shorter walk by taking a bus or catching a launch from one of the landing stages.
This ancient packhorse bridge is located on the Newlands beck. The nearby Goldscope Mine yielded large quantities of lead and copper from 1500-1800, and this bridge likely played its part in the transportation of goods along the Newlands Valley. There are a number of lovely walks in the Newlands Valley area taking in the peaceful valley and surrounding fells.
One of the most photographed bridges in the Lake District, on the road to Watendlath is Ashness Bridge. Its image is often to be seen adorning biscuit tins and tea towels. This fine small packhorse bridge, striding over a fast running beck, is a perfect foreground for the view north over Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite with the mass of Skiddaw rising steeply above Keswick.
A very important footbridge for both visitors and locals alike is that which links Fitz Park with the town centre via Stanger Street. It provides access to the playground, sports clubs and to the car park providing an off road route into town. The current bridge, known as Knightsbridge, was replaced following floods in 2015 reinstating the pedestrian link into the park. Thanks to a generous donation from the Keswick Lions a ramp was incorporated to assist access.
Whilst not strictly a bridge an impressive view down Thirlmere Reservoir can be seen from the 5 metre wide road along the top of Thirlmere Dam. This leads to the quieter road on the Western side where there are parking areas and picnic sites. The dam was created over a hundred years ago from two small lakes and the submerging of two villages at the northern end of the Thirlmere valley. There is a low level 10km walking circuit around the lake.
New Bridge Rosthwaite
New Bridge is located close to the village of Rosthwaite in the heart of the Borrowdale Valley. It is, in spite of its name, a grade 2 listed traditional stone built packhorse bridge which crosses the River Derwent. At drier times of the year the nearby stepping stones are fun to cross. Where the stepping stones are now used to be a ford crossing until this was replaced by New Bridge. A lovely riverside walk takes you past the village of Grange in Borrowdale to Derwentwater or you can climb Wainwright's smallest fell Castle Crag.
The main road from Keswick to Cockermouth used to take you through the village of Portinscale via a two arched stone bridge known as the Long Bridge. There were plans to replace it in 1911 but these plans were opposed and it was not until it was damaged by floods in 1954 that it was replaced initially by a temporary metal structure. When the road was built to bypass the village in the 1960's a new road bridge was built further downstream and the current suspension bridge was built for pedestrians only allowing people to access Portinscale across the fields known as the Howrahs.
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