Corpses and coffins, oh my

Grasmere lake from the old coffin road

We took advantage of a warm sunny morning to head for Grasmere for a coffee and a stroll to White Moss Common. The route took us along part of the old ‘corpse/coffin road’ between Rydal and Grasmere, which has stunning views out across the lake to the surrounding fells, as well as some intriguing historical features.

The coffin road dates back to the days before Rydal had a church of its own. When anyone died in the village, the nearest church for burial was at Grasmere, a couple of miles away, which meant transporting the coffin all that way. Sometimes a horse and cart was used, but often the villagers themselves bore the laden coffin, and used a route that was as level as possible in this hilly terrain.

This time we noticed a series of old, stone-built water cisterns alongside the road; presumably part of the village’s water supply in the days before mains water was piped in. There are also some hidden tarns, now so overgrown you can hardly see them, and some lovely old cottages and farmhouses. And every now and again, odd flat-topped rocks or boulders that have a special significance – but that’s this week’s Monday Mystery, so you’ll have to pop over to my Instagram account to see what it is!

2 Comments

  1. Wow, these sites truly seem like great places to just sit down with a notebook and write at. Lovely tours you’re taking me on. Thanks so much for this, Fiona!

    1. I should probably take a notebook and scribble while I’m there. Peter May used a similar corpse road as a setting for his recent book Coffin Road, which was very atmospheric. 🙂

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