Garrigill Village Green
|Penrith and The Border|
Garrigill is a small village in Cumberland, situated on the banks and close to the source of the River South Tyne. The village's name should not be confused with the hamlet of Galligill in the Nent valley, within the same parish of Alston Moor.
The village's former name is Garrigill-Gate and it was earlier known as Gerard's Gill, Gill being the Norse word for a steep-sided valley.
At its peak Garrigill was home to 1,000 people, mainly employed in the lead mining industry. Now its population numbers less than 200. Those who live and work in the village are mainly employed in agriculture. Garrigill Post Office is a traditional village store which has not changed substantially since the 1950s and is an attraction to many visitors, although at one time the village had four shops including a Co-op store. Both the Pennine Way, the oldest of the UK's National Trails, and the Sea to Sea Cycle Route (C2C) England's most popular long-distance cycle route, pass through the village.
For many years there has been one pub in the village, the George & Dragon. Before the mid-20th century there was a second pub, The Old Fox, next to the church.
The centre of the village is the green which the post office and George & Dragon overlook with the church and village hall nearby, but at either end of the village proper are the areas of Gatefoot and Gatehead, whilst on the village's outskirts are the settlements of Beldy, Crossgill, Loaning (pronounced Lonnin') Head and Ashgillside. There are two water pumps in the village, one on the green and one (which still works) by the bridge.
At Ashgillside and Beldy there are waterfalls namely Ashgill Force and Thortergill Force. Thortergill Force (formerly known to locals as Lady's Walk) was previously able to be accessed by the public, but access has now been closed by the current landowners.
The closest town is Alston, four miles away to the north.
The parish church of St John was for centuries a chapel of ease to St Augustine's at Alston but was promoted to full parish status in the 1980s. It is served by a team vicar based at Alston who also serves the churches at Nenthead, Knarsdale, Kirkhaugh and Lambley. There used to be several non-conformist chapels at or just outside Garrigill as well. The parishes of Alston, Nenthead and Garrigill are within the Diocese of Newcastle.
At nearby Tynehead, now only a single house but once a thriving mining community, there was until the 1930s a primary school which was the highest school there has ever been in England. Garrigill's own school, located at Gatefoot on the Leadgate road, closed in the 1960s.
Garrigill was the home of Westgarth Forster (1772–1835), geologist and mining engineer. He published A Treatise on a Section of the Strata from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to the Mountain of Cross Fell in Cumberland. Descendants of the Forster family still reside in Garrigill to this day, and there is a memorial to him in the churchyard.
Garrigill is also home to landscape artist Lionel Playford, whose works have been featured in various galleries across the country, and also to artist and illustrator Akasha Raven, known for her surreal and imaginative paintings and drawings. Artist Jules Cadie works from his home and studio close to Ashgill Force at High Ashgill, often using raw natural material from his immediate environment.
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