Looks a bit deep to me
River Eamont (part 31)
Yesterday was a bit of floor with a lot of history; today is a bit of river with a lot of history.
As I have been following the River Eamont, one thing I have focused on has been the ways in which man has crossed the river. So we have seen bridges of all kinds, built for different reasons, but all with the same purpose of allowing the river to be crossed. Just how important these crossings have been, and still are, has been shown by the chaos, inconvenience and upset that has been caused by bridges being closed after flood damage. What relief there is now that Eamont Bridge has been repaired and is back in use and a temporary bridge at Pooley Bridge has been opened.
And here is another very important crossing - at Udford. This is (or was) a ford across the River Eamont and a very old one it is too; it is marked as a ford on some of the oldest maps of the area. We can safely presume that the Romans used it, as they had a fort and a major road close by, but it really came into its own at the time of cattle droving. In his book Cattle Droving through Cumbria 1600-1900, Peter Roebuck describes how many routes used by drovers, for example from Carlisle, Hawick or Castleton, came to this point and how it was one of the few places that the Eamont could safely be crossed. One must try to imagine huge herds of cattle being driven down this grassy track, having crossed the river from a similar track on the other side. The river looks a bit deep at the moment, but the ford is shown on the map as going at an angle, presumably following a shallow way across the gravel floor of the river. I am not sure whether it is still possible to cross the river here and I am certainly not going to try it out any time soon.
There are records from Edenhall, which was a big estate on the opposite side of the river, that show the family there making a lot of money from providing stances, or overnight accommodation, for drovers and their cattle. The stances would have places where cattle could graze and be kept securely overnight. The estate bordered onto the river, so cattle could be watered after their day's trek and then in the morning the ford faciliated the onward southern passage. In the heyday of droving, in the 17th/18th/19th century, this quiet spot must have been very busy, with huge herds of cattle being driven across here on their way from Scotland to the industrial towns of southern England.
We are nearly at the end of our journey and if you look at the location map, you will see why.