The Beck Bookended By Bridges

The Beck Bookended By Bridges – Cumbria – July 2021

The July 2021 issue of Cumbria Magazine includes my piece titled The Beck Bookended By Bridges.

It was while I was on holiday in the Lake District in 2020 (soon after Lockdown 1 restrictions had been lifted) that I spent a couple of days exploring Cunsey Beck, a short, two-mile watercourse linking Esthwaite Water with Windermere.

I realised that bridges spanned this beck at both its source/inflow and outflow. For some reason, this appealed to me. I couldn’t think of many watercourses that could make this claim to fame (although I’m sure there are some).

I also found the contrast intriguing – a wide, car-carrying stone bridge spans the start of Cunsey Beck, whereas the outflow, where it meets the vast body of water that is Windermere, it spanned by a narrow wooden footbridge.

Ees Bridge – at the start of Cunsey Beck’s journey.

When the idea of following the watercourse from ‘source to sea’, or rather, ‘Water to Lake’ occurred, I had visions of following a stream-side path. Checking out the Ordnance Survey map soon dispelled that idea. Even so, I worked out a route that followed its watery journey as closely as possible.

Cunsey Beck

A lot of the route involved following minor lanes around the area, but for some sections it was possible to walk on footpaths alongside the stream. Some of the most fascinating sections were where Cunsey Forge once stood.

Cunsey Forge information panel.

Here, the stream was in full flow. (Note to self: this should have been a sign of what was to come!)

Cunsey Beck in full flow!

I knew as I drew closer to Windermere that I needed a diversion, entailing heading south briefly, to pick up the Windermere Shoreline Path around Rawlinson’s Nab. What I hadn’t considered was the excessive rainfall the Lake District had experienced in the previous two weeks. So much rain, in fact, that Windermere’s water level was high – high enough to cover the shoreline path. I had to abandon the walk at that point.

Still, not to be outdone, a few days later I made another attempt, and luckily the water levels had dropped enough to make the shoreline path passable.

It’s a narrow wooden bridge that crosses Cunsey Beck, where it flows out into Windermere – and relatively new. A modern bridge, you could say, compared to Ees Bridge at the start of Cunsey Beck. And it’s the perfect place from which to stand and stare and gaze across the lake.

Windermere swallows and drowns the water that flows along Cunsey Beck. And while it’s the end of the journey for Cunsey Beck, the water that flows through it still has a long way to go.

Arriving at Windermere
The footbridge where the Cunsey beck meets Windermere.