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A DEAD GOOD DAY OUT

PETE SCULLION CONTINUES HIS SEARCH OF THE LAND FOR THE ANCIENT ROUTES THE DEAD WOULD TAKE ON THEIR FINAL JOURNEY. THIS TIME HIS QUEST TAKES HIM TO THE CORPSE ROADS OF THE LAKE DISTRICT.

At first glance, the prospect of lugging a coffin through the terrain of the central Lake District is not a pleasant one. The ancient ways set as routes to ‘mother’ churches in medieval times were often remote and hazardous. However, those dwelling in Rydal who needed to transport a casket to St Oswald’s in Grasmere had one of the best routes going. It’s doubtful there would have been a competition for the best route, but the parishioners of Rydal certainly had it relatively easy – they chose one of the more sedate paths above Rydal and Grasmere Water, sheltered by large beech and oak trees with mostly Lakeland slate underfoot.

Preparing for the funeral run.

Here, where even the less prominent hills sport sheer tops that plummet to the shore of Grasmere and Rydal Waters, those 12th century folk opted to make life easy for themselves. This route, while short, has some of the best relics of this bygone tradition on show. From St Mary’s Chapel in Rydal, parishioners would need to make the 4km journey above Rydal Water’s eastern flank to the ancient church of St Oswald’s in Grasmere. Other corpse roads exist in the area, mostly making their way to the same church but from the south-west from Great and Little Langdale, as well as Skelwith Bridge. It wouldn’t be until 1821 when St Mary’s was consecrated that Grasmere was no longer the nearest option. Only the Rydal to Grasmere route has become a bridleway, however, so it’s the only ‘proper’ route that can be tackled by bike.

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About Singletrack

UK Adventure: A Dead Good Day Out Pete Scullion follows one of the Lake District’s coffin trails, from graveyard to pub. UK Adventure: Down The Sandstone Way Oli Townsend checks out England’s newest long distance trail. International Adventure: Rumble in the Jungle Jason Miles races across Sri Lanka, fuelled by tea, coffee, and a fear of elephants. Trail Hunter: Through the Bogs of Time Tom Fenton revisits the remote, and rather wet, Doethie Valley. Is it as good as he remembers? Singletrack Room 101 Resident Grumpy Mark presides over your submissions to Room 101. Classic Ride: Avebury, Wiltshire Tom Hutton explores the rolling hills and standing stones, while testing Murphy’s First Law of Mountain Biking. Grouptest: Waterproof Shorts We’ve ground our gussets, soaked our seams, and wet our waistbands in search of shorts to keep our derrières dry. Bike Test: Living the Ti-Life Jason Miles stops stroking and staring at three polished 29er lovelies from J Guillem, Kona and Stanton and takes them out to see whether they ride as well as the look. Through the Grinder An array of goods sprinkled with summer rain, ground in summer mud, and very occasionally exposed to actual direct sunlight. Grinder Bike: Scott Scale 710+ Scott’s plus size hardtail put through mile after mile of testing. International Adventure: Murky Morzine Our Rob heads off on his summer holidays, which prove somewhat damp, but nonetheless fun. International Adventure: Blackburn Rangers Chipps goes riding in the wilderness with the varied characters who will be promoting the Blackburn brand this year.
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