We recently received an email from a Pennine Way walker who was curious about the flagstones on the section between Cross Fell and Great Dun Fell. We passed the question onto Steve Westwood, the Pennine Way National Trail Officer, who provided an insightful and interesting answer that we thought others may be interested to know…
“The stone used had obviously had a previous life: besides obviously not being of the local geology, there were holes cut in it and remnants of what looked like metal railings. I simply wondered if it is known where the stone came from? Who had done the work to flag the path with it?”
The flagging you saw between Cross Fell and Dun Fell is made from flooring flags from demolished textile mills in Lancashire and Yorkshire. The mills had stone floors to help prevent fires. I believe the flags are mainly gritstone – quarried in Lancashire and Yorkshire. The metal bits are where looms etc were fastened to the floor. Most of the flagging up there has been around for 10 to 15 years or more, however we have had problems on that section with lichen growing on the flags and making them slippery when wet. The flags you noticed as being quite recent may well be ones that have been recently turned over and relayed to give a less slippy walking surface.