The Eskdale Mill in the hamlet of Boot takes its water from the beautiful Whillan Beck, which runs down from Burnmoor Tarn, high on the fell below the imposing Scafell. There are plenty of self catering lake district cottages in the area which would make a great base from which to explore the valley further.

A mill at this location dates from the 1200s (although this is just the first written record) and so could date back much further as the mill is built to a Roman design used in the mills on Hadrian’s Wall and with our own Eskdale Fort on Hardknott Pass it is feasible that this could have been a mill to supply the garrison based there.

The current Eskdale mill dates from the 1700’s and the wooden machinery which turns the millstones which grind the grain. The mill operated at a profit supplying flour and animal feed to the valley until the early 1900’s when the Lar’l Ratty (the steam train) started to bring in goods into the Eskdale Valley and the mill couldn’t compete.

The mill had its final days of glory during the First World War when the valley relied on the mill once again to provide the valley and surrounding areas with flour and animal feed once again.

Today, Dave King, the miller, gives tours of the milling process and the 2 waterwheels do still work. The mill is usually open 11.30 to 5.30 from April to September (they may be closed on Mondays and Saturdays so give Dave a ring to check if you are planning a visit).

In 2006 the Eskdale Mill and Heratige Trust (a registered charity) bought the Eskdale Mill and which will hopefully secure the mills future as a historic monument of an industry which has been carried out on this location for at least 1000 years and probably more like 2000!

This wonderful piece of working history can be combined with a trip on the Lar’l Ratty, if you take the train from Ravenglass to Eskdale from the final station at Dalegarth it is a short 10 minute walk into Boot where you can visit the mill then either have a ice cream from the post office (or station) if the weather is nice or a refreshing drink in one of the 2 pubs in Boot, The Boot Inn and the Brook House, both serving great food and a fine selection of ales.

By yanam49

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