In 1890 my great grandmother, Hannah Daykin married in St Mary’s Church, Arkengarthdale. For over 150 years Hannah’s family had lived in this tiny remote dale. Some of the family were lead miners, some worked the land, many did both. They lived a difficult, challenging and often short lives in such an exposed place. Many would hardly ever leave the dale until families migrated as the lead mines began to fail.
Today the dale is still remote – no mobile phone signal for at least 8 miles! The unusual names of the tiny hamlets reflect an ancient past – Whaw, Booze, Langthwaite, Eskeleth … The dale is more accessible than formerly yet it is less populated – only about 240 live in the whole dale. The tree-less hills, the barren landscape, the dry stone walls, the sparse population, for me are a wonderful and refreshing contrast to the compactness and busyness of Manchester.
We all have special places – some real, some imaginary, all places we can go to in thought when ‘in vacant or in pensive mood.’ Granny Peacock a former resident of the dale, and a relative of Hannah Daykin, said that when she died she hoped to be in the Arkengarthdale part of heaven. In this special place for me I feel she had a point.