The extensive broadleaved woodlands of the Rusland Valley have not always presented the tranquil scene they do today. Less than 100 years ago, these woods were a ‘factory floor' producing prodigious quantities of coppiced wood for bobbins, barrels, tool handles, swill baskets, clogs and, most important of all, charcoal.
The availability of charcoal and copious supplies of running water were the main reasons why the Leven and Crake valleys came to support industries from iron furnaces and gunpowder works to the manufacture of ultramarine washing powders. The two valleys also acted as conduits for the transport of goods and materials and at their confluence is Greenodd. This once busy port flourished on the export of slate, copper, wrought iron, timber, wool, lead and gunpowder but now quietly overlooks the Leven estuary.
The economic needs of the late 18th century fashioned this landscape, leaving a legacy of ancient woodlands and a network of footpaths, bridleways and quiet lanes that provide the ideal way of thoroughly exploring the area's rich heritage on foot, by cycle or on horseback.
Dolly Blue Works, Backbarrow
The Whitewater Hotel now occupies the site of Reckitt's Dolly Blue washing powder factory. The site was originally a corn mill and later adapted to a bobbin mill and paper mill before manufacturing blue dyes as whitening for domestic washing. It is said that the dust from the chimneys stained the surrounding land blue. The hotel retains some of the machinery from the works, along with old photographs and posters.
Do you have a woodland surname?
Barker - removed tree bark for the tanning industry
Tanner - tanned leather using oak bark
Collier - charcoal burner
Bloomer - smelted iron ore
Hooper - made hoops for barrels using coppiced wood
Turner - used a pole lathe to make turned items
Cooper/Cowper - made wooden barrels
Ashburner - produced potash for soap making
Nearest Tourist Information Centres are at Ulverston and Coniston.
Ulverston Tourist Information Centre
Coronation Hall, County Square, Ulverston, LA12 7LZ
Tel: 01229 587120
Open all year, Mon-Sat, 10.00-4.00.
Coniston Tourist Information Centre
Ruskin Avenue, Coniston, LA21 8EH
Tel: 015394 41533