It didn’t register much with me at first as I was making for the top of Blaeberry Fell. A cold wind soon brought thick whirling snowflakes. By my return an hour later in the dusk the fallen snow was revealing the pile of stones, which I had hurried past, to be the ruins of a substantial rectangular construction about 30 x 20 feet in size with two dressed sandstone upright door posts. (See photo opposite).
Could this really be a sheepfold – almost invariably circular – as the OS map indicates? Intrigued by its location (Grid Ref: NY 279209) I found an old 1865 OS map, which showed a similar building and description, running on a NW-SE axis.
A visit to the site this last week without snow convinced me I was right – slate tiles with punched holes, part of a broken sink, a glazed roof ridge section and remains of a well rendered NW wall showed this was certainly a bolt hole for humans not sheep!
“Oh yes it was a shepherd’s cottage alright,” said Frank Richardson owner of the Junk and Bric-a-Bac shop on Keswick’s Central Park Road (Open after Easter 10.30 am – 2.00 pm), when I saw him at the weekend. “I used to go laiking about up there when I was a lad 60 years ago. There was more of it standing then.”
And what a position it has! The photo below looking north-east is a spectacular view of Clough Head and the Helvellyn range still covered with snow. Other magnificent views from here of Skiddaw, Eel Crags and Robinson can be found in our Rooftops of the World Photo Gallery.
Built over 150 years ago, Brockle Beck cottage provides fascinating insights into farming life in the 19th century and helps show what living conditions were like for earlier generations in mountain areas.
It would be a great project to determine its layout through excavation and at least partially restore the building as an attraction for visitors. It could also open the way to creating an interesting high level green route for walkers from Keswick to Watendlath, avoiding the Borrowdale traffic.