Black Beck to Winster Vicarage - distance 1.5 miles

LRO ref DDX 194/45

Route Nos 14, 15 and 16 are unusual and intriguing. All the way from Lake Windermere over the craggy moors to Winster and down the river valley to Grange, a distance of about 16 miles, the measurements were taken over undulating country and not on any roads.

The system of surveying used over three hundred years ago has remained in use until recent times when computerised methods were introduced

A series of straight lines were set out over the route as they went along. The angle tended by these lines as they changed direction was accurately measured. From each datum line objects were located by measuring the distance along its length and the distance from it called offset.

The most irregular route of the Lancashire-Westmorland county boundary from Black Beck at Lake Windermere to Winster was so measured. The datum line on this section needed extra skill to set out it out as it went up one side of the hill, over the rock strewn top and down the other side over equally rough wooded terrain to Winster village. (It did not go to Winster vicarage). The meandering route of the river Winder was set out using the same method. The precise location was determined of such things as houses, bridges, woods, walls and churches.

This sheet starts at 4 miles 1 furlong 0 poles written as 4 : 1 : 0 with a missing record of the previous 2.5 miles on the road along side Lake Windermere. Near here lived Thomas Stenardson and at 4 : 3 : 26 the Lancashire - Westmorland boundary was reached at Black Beck. Across the lake was a wood called Warth Barrow Knabb in Furness. On modern maps this is called Rawlinson Nab.

The field notes taken show the County Boundary to be in almost the identical location to that shown on the Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map 1: 25,000 The English Lakes, South East Sheet. How this boundary came to have such an irregular route over wooded moorland is hard to imagine. One can only surmise that this is an ancient boundary with substantial stone walls-“the fell” or “moor”- dyke, between farmland and waste/common

Saxton’s map of 1577, due to the scale, is unable to show detail of the boundary but does show Winster chapel. The features on this survey show Rosthwaite Farm, a moor boundary stone on the common below Rulbuts Hill, where the wall runs due east/west, Nicholas Robinson’s High House Farm and adjacent woods. As the boundary reached the river Winster it passed through an unusual circular course around the wet land before turning southwards and still does.

Currently this very large secure house, with helicopter pad, is called Birket House, lived in by the landowner Mr Scowcroft. Miles Gurnell lived at Winster House that was accessible over Gurnell Bridge. This house is now enlarged and bears little resemblance to that seen in 1685. The house near the bridge called Old Vicarage (one of two by this name) was not in place at the time of the survey. Bryan House Farm was one furlong further downstream on the Westmorland side of the river. This was the end of sheet number 14.