To explore the routes through the Westmorland Dales which people and animals have used for thousands of years, the physical and cultural marks they have left and share the story with the wider public.

Project lead: Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

The Westmorland Dales is bounded on all sides by major through routes - the Lune gap; the Eden valley and east to west through Ravenstonedale to Kirkby Stephen, along with more minor routes through its centre. For thousands of years people and their animals have passed along these routes and they have unsurprisingly left their mark both physically and culturally on the landscape around them. 

This is a community interpretation project that will gather together research on an important aspect of the history of the Westmorland Dales and then share this story with a wide audience through imaginative interpretation. 

A great deal is already known historically and through archaeological field work about the various users of the through routes, from Roman soldiers with their fort at Low Borrowbridge to the cattle drovers of the seventeenth century to the builders of the first railway lines into the area. The Westmorland Dales also had important turnpike roads and coaching routes. The strategic location of the Westmorland Dales means that it is the focus of both north-south and east-west routes as they find their way through the weak points of the surrounding hills. Much of this historical information is presented quite dryly however and there is also a lot of detail yet to be uncovered or joined up to create a more interesting story. 

Purpose

  • To work with volunteers from the local community and already formed local history groups to unearth the areas rich history. Identifying the surviving evidence on the ground left by these journeys and the stories they reveal; from the pubs where the drovers drank to the stances where cattle were rested and grazed each day. From the coaching inns and toll houses to the small clues in the built environment which create interest and are easily missed.
  • To enhance the content on the National Park’s Out of Oblivion archaeology website to reflect the new geographical area’s historic and archaeological resource. Thematic essays on topics such as Roads and Trackways; Routemarkers and Railways would benefit from having examples from the Westmorland Dales adding as a result of this project.
  • To share the stories through a wide range of imaginative interpretive mediums.