Families of the Lyth Valley

by Hartley Trotter

An Introduction to the Lyth Valley

When the ice melted 12,000 years ago it formed this wonderful valley between the two limestone ridges of Brigsteer and Whitbarrow. The swampy conditions were ideal for the formation of peat and the growth of timber. Fishing and hunting were an easy food source and settlements developed around the edges of the valley

Peat cutting for fuel became quite an industry in the valley but improvements to the drainage and access were needed. In 1815 a scheme (the Heversham Award) was implemented to improve the drainage and road network in the valley and this was enhanced by William Glyn in the mid 1850s. Quarrying also became more important, to provide stone for the bridges and culverts, and agriculture intensified as the lowland could now be cultivated.

Two world wars and an increased demand for home produced food resulted in further improvements to the drainage that allowed grain and root crops to be grown. Finally a pumping system was installed late 1960s which resulted in even better drainage.

However there is now (2010) the real threat that the pumps will be switched off and the valley will once again become a swamp. This a poor testament to all the hard work of our ancestors that made the Lyth Valley the desirable place it is today.

My family, the Trotters, have been inhabitants of the valley since the 1800s. My great grandfather's parents farmed in Ulpha. My grandfather was born at Low Farm, my father farmed at Howe Lodge and I followed in his footsteps making a living from the land in the Valley.

In my lifetime fourteen farms in the Valley have already been amalgamated with neighbouring ones; many of the older farm houses have been bought by 'off-comers' or as second homes resulting in quite a different mix of inhabitants. This has prompted me to do an historical survey of farms and houses in the Lyth while there are still memories, to draw upon, of farming in the Lyth.

Hartley Trotter 2010.

Click on the links below to find details of birth, deaths and occupants of each of the following farms or hamlets.