About Crakeld Holm
Well actually, it should properly be spelt Crak Keld Holmr if we were using the Norse language, the derivation of the present day Cumbrian dialect. The words are descriptive and as a consequence you would automatically realise you were on an island in a river (that’s the holmr bit) by the rocky (crak) freshwater spring (keld).
Of course there is a spring very nearby – but you’ll be pleased to hear you no longer do you have to wander down daily with a bucket and collect your ration. Today the fresh spring water is pumped from a deep private borehole; just feel the decadence of a bath in natural, still mineral water!
Originally, Crakeld Holm was a sandstone bank barn belonging to the Force Mill farm. It dates from the eighteenth century (although carved graffiti by idling farm labourers that you can still see today would give us a date of 1827) and was built in the traditional manner with a loft situated above the animal stalls, which meant that the fodder and bedding stored here was easily dropped down to the beasts below.
The Force Mill farm cottage, also available for holiday lets (www.forcemill.co.uk) is a little further down the farm track and the mill referred in that name is one of the adjacent stone buildings, although now in very poor repair. The old millrace can still be seen, hewn from the rocks at the river’s edge, although much of it has silted up now. The farm site itself is much more ancient and in fact is listed Grade 2 because if its historical interest as a mill location and, probably more importantly, as a previous river crossing.
Bank Barns are a traditional North Country style of barn that apparently originated around the mid-seventeenth century here in Cumbria. The distinguishing feature of this type of barn is that it is built over two levels in a stepped design that ensures that both upper and lower floors can be accessed at ground level. This is achieved by building the barn into a bank or side of a hill and Crakeld Holm is indeed set into a small incline, against a rocky sandstone outcrop. The presence of this sandstone caused no little initial difficulty in the eventual conversion of the barn as the lower level had to be excavated further to ensure satisfactory damp proofing and digging into the solid rock didn’t prove easy.
Until the mid-1960’s the barn was still being fully utilised with the stalls below being used for hand milking as well as cow-houses. The advent of larger farm machinery and alternative farming practices meant that the barn became more and more obsolete and run-down and so it is with a great deal of affection that its renovation to an alternate and worthwhile use has been possible.
The old bank barn at Force Mill is re-born as Crakeld Holm.