The Vale of Lyvennet

Its Picturesque Peeps and Legendary Lore

By John Salkeld Bland



The Park at Crosby Ravensworth, of which Sir Lancelot Threlkeld boasted as affording him unbounded pleasure, lies to the south of Crosby, and is now known as Crosby Gill. It has originally been enclosed by a wall three yards in height, and of immense thickness; portions of this are still to be seen, the most perfect specimen being on the roadside from Crosby to Gilts. It has certainly been a chase of princely dimensions, containing within its bounds upwards of  700 acres, with a circumference of over six miles. The chase is of a very irregular and romantic character, being cut up into glens and ravines. A stream rising at King’s Well runs the whole length down a beautiful yet wild valley, thickly covered with brushwood. This is joined in its course by three or four tributary streams. The Lyvennet from Black Dub runs down a deep and craggy glen, Raven Gill, down which the stream, after forming a succession of cascades, flows round the base of Raven Cragg, forming a deep pool called Aggy Lum; around which hangs a gloomy horror from the fact that it was once the scene of the last dreary plunge of a frail forsaken mother. Gilts beck, which gathers its waters from the bleak scars around Penhurrock, has also formed its course down a deep ravine. It is crossed, near Gilts, by a very picturesque bridge; the water runs through a cleft in the rock. This has been taken advantage of as an almost natural bridge. Its workmanship is attributed to Michael Scott, or, as some say, the Devil, who, flying over with a load of stones in his apron, the strings accidentally broke, and down fell the stones.  He, unwilling to reload, but still wishful to turn them to some useful purpose, descended and formed the present bridge. On another occasion, however, he has not been so industriously inclined, for an immense heap of boulders near Wood Foot are also attributed to a similar accident; which he left in so careless a manner, as according to the expression of an old farmer, “to spoil a lump of good land.”  A load these stones certainly have been, but more likely that of some antediluvian iceberg than that of his Satanic Majesty.*

The lodge, where probably resided the keepers, &c., is situated on an elevated part of the chase, commanding a view of the whole surrounding woods; it is now used as a farm-house, and has been rebuilt.

Many a time, doubtless, did the knight and his visitors at the Hall enjoy the excitement of the chase as the sound of hound and horn echoed among the dells.

These were jovial days at Crosby; but like their noble originators they are past and forgotten, except to the dreaming poet or the prosing antiquary, who have preserved for us something of the past in that fine old song:- 

Oh those indeed were merry days
The merry days of old.


* It has been remarked that in England anything ancient is attributed to one of four authors – Julius Caesar, King Arthur, the Druids or the Devil.  Julius Caesar did not reach the north, and Michael Scott fills his place.





The Vale of Lyvennet, Its Picturesque Peeps and Legendary Lore, By John Salkeld Bland, 1910.
Originally transcribed by Diane Coppard and Kate Burns, and reproduced here with their permission.

19 June 2015.

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