: Breast High in Bretherdale
(and other roads less
17th December 2008
can you live in a place for 39 years and have never
heard of a road, only 7 miles away, called Breasthigh?
forecast said stay low and finish early or you could
get caught by some nasty wintry weather so I had scoured
the map for something local that presented a fresh opportunity. And
there I saw Breasthigh Road, rising out of Borrowdale
(the Westmorland one) and crossing over to Bretherdale.
an unusual name must have an interesting story of origin,
or so I thought.
Josie have known? Probably not; in her case
"low" was the more apt word!
maybe Benny Hill? Do you remember Ernie and his
lady love, Sue, who lived all alone in Linley Lane at
number twenty two?
said she'd like to bathe in milk; he said “Alright,
And when he finished work one night
he loaded up the cart
He said “You want it pasteurised
‘coz pasteurised is best”
She said “Ernie, I'll
be happy If it comes up to my breast!”
that tickled old Don but was not a very likely explanation.
I turned to the internet but all I could find
was related to it being variously used by 4x4s, mountain
bikes and the occasional walker.
was one interesting historical note. Breasthigh
Road was probably the common and ancient highway leading
from the town of Selside to the market town of Orton
on which, in 1754, a wall had been erected whereby the
king's highway was totally obstructed so that the King's
liege subjects could not go, return, pass, ride and
labour as they ought. Thomas Wilson of Selside with
force and arms unlawfully and obstinately did uphold
and maintain the same. On 11th October 1754, Thomas
Wilson pleaded guilty and produced a certificate to
show that the obstruction was now removed and that the
king's highway was now open unobstructed and free for
all His Majesty's liege subjects.
the wiser as to the etymology, we parked in the layby above Hucks Bridge.
I was all for heading back up the A6 to where
the still open Breasthigh Road emerges but Bryan pointed
out that to do so would involve having to ford a rather
full Borrow Beck (but no, not breast high!) An easier route was to cross
over Hucks Bridge and go down Borrowdale to the north
side of the ford. Heavy wagons thundered by us
whilst Tony reminisced about the farm by the bridge
where, at the age of 12, he had ridden his first motorbike.
Hucks Bridge, A6
day was fine, the sun had not yet got over the hill
and it was colder than I had expected as we climbed
up Breasthigh Road. At the top, we took a detour
to the radio mast on Dennison Hill. Whoever owns
this mast has made a poor job of removing the debris
of its predecessor, something that would become a bit
of a theme of the walk.
There were, however, good views
across Borrowdale to Whinfell Common.
with Whinfell Common behind
with the idea of carrying on to Whinash but it was too
cold so we decided to return to Breasthigh Road and
head down towards Bretherdale. The OS large scale
map actually shows a place called Breast High. All
we found was an abandoned barn- another theme of the
Breasthigh Road descends to Bretherdale
this Breast High?
descent by a thinly wooded stream was very pleasant.
I was particularly excited by one tree that seemed
to be full of birds’ nests but on closer examination,
they proved to be natural twig formations. But
why only the one tree like that?
The nestless tree
the bottom of the path we came across a well rusted
and rotted old van. We couldn’t determine
what make it had been but it ought not have been left
Head is a sad place. Clearly still farmed but
the buildings are in poor repair and there are two derelict
houses. One a lovely old Westmorland long house,
long abandoned, and one more recent, probably Victorian,
with the remains of lace curtains fluttering in the
broken windows. However, unlike Monty’s country
this shown no signs of having been used for other purposes!
The "new" house .....
and its range
The "old" house
slippery footbridge at Bretherdale Head
crossed the beck by a slippery footbridge and climbed
up a path that was in reality more like a ghyll, from
which there was a fine view back over Bretherdale Head
to Breast High.
Head in the foreground with the Breasthigh Road behind
then skirted round North Side on an ancient lane before
reaching a newly tarmacadamed road heading north to
Eskew Beck House and Ewelock Bank. The dwellings
here showed much more sign of life and, evidenced it,
with ample supplies of abandoned vehicles.
(and Tony is excluded form this comment) we don’t like
to eat until we have completed the bulk of the climbing
but today was an exception. Our route lay along
the bridle path that crosses over Birkbeck Fells Common
where shelter might be hard to find. So we dropped
into a gully just below Ewelock Bank for lunch and team
Team photo in the gully
Fordson- click for different view
the abandoned vehicles were a semi-restored old Fordson
tractor, three fell ponies and three Shetland ponies.
Another abandoned barn
it happens, there was shelter to be found on the hill-
yet more abandoned barns.
We passed over Nan Hill
and Crag Hill then dropped down past the inevitably
rusting and rotting grouse butts to a brand new small
building under the line of the pylons.
padlocked and seemingly air conditioned, we thought
it was connected to a microwave radio dish on a pylon
but just why we could not tell.
here onwards the road was very obvious, probably the
line of the original one over to Shap, but the view,
other than to Shap Granite Quarry,
was compromised by the abundance of pylons.
reaching the A6, Tony would have preferred to head down
the main road but Bryan and I insisted on crossing over
along the bridle path and probable original road. Only
it had sunken under bog. Eventually we came to
a gate and Stan, in his rather blunt and direct way,
said “We have been on many attractive paths today but
this isn’t one of them”. Tony, on the other hand,
in his gentler, more subtle manner, said “What the XXXX
are we doing here?”
ground improved as we dropped down to Hause Foot but
the weather did not. The wintry rain threatened
to appear. However, it wasn’t too bad. In
fact, the view was quite pleasant as we approached Hucks
Bridge Farm and Tony again relived his old glories.
Approaching Hucks Bridge
concluded what is probably our last pre-Christmas walk.
In finishing its report, I will
repeat, in an updated context, what an old friend once told me. He
two types of fool in this world.
Those who write blogs
and those who read them.
So from one fool to another,
17th December 2008
you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow
our route in detail by downloading BB0840.
For the latest totals
of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.
If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let
me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!
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This page describes an adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature
years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as
often as possible!
As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that
our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.
As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an
item of footwear but is in memory of Big
Josie, the erstwhile landlady of
the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day
1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!
If you want to contact us, click on
If you want to join
let us know and
of new BOOTboys reports.
- BB0801 :
Avoiding the Graupel;
- BB0802 :
Lyth in the Old Dogs;
Tuesday 22 January
Sunday 27 January
Tony's Memory Lane;
Wednesday 30th January
Thank You Mells
The Langdale Skyline
and a Fell Race!
An Outbreak of Common Sense;
Thursday 21st February
Askham Fell and
the Lowther Estate;
Thanks to the MWIS
Wednesday 19th March
High Street and Kidsty Pike
but no Fairy
Prelude to Spring
Wednesday 2nd April
Spring in Lakeland
Wet, Wet Sleddale to Mosedale Cottage
What's It All About, Tony?
The Hidden Mountain
The Bowland CROW
High Cup Nick:
The Gurt La'al Canyon
The Northern Tip
The Bannisdale Horseshoe
Black, White or Grey Combe?
Thunder on the 555
We'll Give It Five
Thursday 10th July
Shelters from the Storm
The Big Wind-Up
Third (and wettest) Alfie
A Visit to Mud Hall
- BB0828 :
The Tale of Randy Gill
: Mosedale Cottage Revisited
: Mist Over Pendle
: Luncheon Chez Monty
Thursday 2nd October
: Escape from the Madness
: Only on a Thursday
: Reflections on Thirlmere
: Reet Grand Randonnées
- 19th November
: Back to Real8ty
: Ladies Invitation Day
: Why Mungrisedale Common?
: Breast High in Bretherdale
: Helm, direttissimo
: Cunswick Fell and back in the dark!
- BskiB08 : Bootski Boys in the Sella Ronda
23rd February - 1st March
Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large
download a log of which Wainwrights have
been done by which BOOTboy
in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent
click on Wainwrights.
anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know
and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!