|Old map showing Mill Hill, High Cross and Stockbridge.|
|The entry in the Loweswater Parish Burial Register,|
'Jane and Isabella Daughters of Thomas Clarke of Mill Hill Labourer they were Drowned in Stock Beck on the 25th November and Buried 27th
|Rose Cottage, the former Rose Bank school the Clarke sisters attended.|
The link above is the reference to this article and these journals are very informative on the Lorton and Derwent Fells history.
Stock Bridge is itself on private land, as is Mill Hill. This Mill I understand to be a ruin or is now just one barn following a fire and I was told locally that the stone was used to build further on High Cross.
I managed to view what I believe is the Stock Bridge; if I am correct then it is a substantial structure, though it appears to have no sides. If this was the bridge at the time then the water must have been at some height and according to John Head, historically and within his personal experience, it was known to have been higher. Certainly the bridge I viewed was on the track to Mill Hill, though perhaps it was raised after the tragedy?
We were not there so do not know the full detail of the terrible chain of events that led to the tragedy but with the evidence of only one pair of clogs and one pair of stockings being found by the bridge it seems reasonable to speculate that one daughter, most likely the younger Isabella, got into difficulty and was taken by the current. Jane being the older would feel that sense of duty to her younger sister and remove her clogs and stockings (no doubt valuable commodities to a labouring family) and try and get Isabella to safety, but she herself would also be taken by the current and cold November flood waters. Perhaps it was the other way around, but there appears little doubt one tried to rescue the other but failed, with a double tragedy for the Clarke family.
Walk the tranquil valley, go up onto Melbreak, Hen Comb, Carling Knott or Low Fell and cast an eye down to the tranquil valley below, Crabtree Beck and Stock Bridge show it wasn't always so.