Millennium Map Project. Old Roads in the Parish
Contributor: Chris Irwin
Ravenstonedale, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria
Roads - the old roads seem to have been as follows:
(a) The Roman Road from Brough to join the roman road which went through the Lune Gorge (the Fair Mile Gate, as it is called, between Howgill and Tebay). This seems to have run behind Kirkby Stephen and entered the parish near Tarnmire Hole. It probably followed the line of the lane that crosses Stennerskeugh Bridge, goes right through the middle of the marching camp, passed Street and Street Farm to the cattle grid, where the roads divide at the end of Cote Moor. From there it seems to have gone along the line of the side road by Cold Keld and Street side. The modern road drops down to Rawthey Bridge, but the Roman one probably went to the old ford and then curved road the shoulder at Bluecaster.
There is a good 'aggar' or road foundation/embankment in the field on a direct line between the camp and Street, also under the road leading to Cold Keld.
(b) Medieval Roads. The old road from Orton to Kirkby seems to have come in south of Sunbiggin Tarn and joined High Lane. It then went along the lane past Brownber to Friars Bottom. From there it went alongside the Park Wall to County Bridge (where there used to be an inn) and over Smardale Fell. Parts of it, ie Brownber to Friars Bottom and the hollow-way alongside the Park Wall, survive almost intact.
The north to south road is described by Nichols as crossing the Lune at Sandwath, up Scots Rake and round Green Bell to drop down by Adamthwaite. Raistrick's map in "Green Roads of the Mid-Pennines" shows a drove road coming in to the Dawley Tree, south by Mason Wath and dividing into two on Ravenstonedale Moor. From there, one branch goes through Newbiggin and Ravenstonedale. The other went down to Wath and up Bowderdale. Some evidence of this is shown by the fact there are two gaps in the enclosures on to the old road, one at Rigg End and one about half-a-mile further west. Incidentally, Nichols says there was once an inn at Rigg.
Local Roads. The road between Newbiggin and Ravenstonedale dates from about 1780. Before that, the route was down High Dykes to the ford by The King's Head. It probably went the other side of Coldbeck Farmhouse and joined the existing bridleway leading from the Greenside Road. At the Newbiggin end, it seems to have gone by Beckstones (was this once called Foul Dubbs?) and across a causeway over what is now the Bessybeck Trout Farm to Causeway End, where it joined High Lane. (The westwards continuation of this road can still be seen as a series of tracks passing Weasdale, Scar Sikes, Bowderdale, Flake Bridge, Cotegill, Langdale and down to Gaishill and Tebay.)
The old road to Kirkby Stephen was by Bleaflatt Lane to Ash Fell Farm, up onto Ash Fell at Waitley Scar and down to Lane Head. The bridge near the church probably only dates from when the Newbiggin-Ravenstonedale road was built, or when the old A685 was turnpiked.