Wath Bridge straddles the River Ehen at Low Wath in West Cumbria, with two sandstone arches. This stretch of the river is known as Hen Beck by the locals, and is one of the places I used to play as a youngster. I still visit the quaint bridge to this day, as do many others with their picnics.
During summer months, as the crystal clear water trickles by, and birds sing their heartening songs, all tensions fade away into oblivion. It’s the perfect place for quiet contemplation. Hen Beck offers up tranquility for those wanting to get away from it all.
- The word ‘beck’ is Northern English. It is used as the common term for a brook with a stony bed or following a rugged course.
- Wath is from Old Norse, meaning ford. It is related to wade.
The River Ehen flows from Ennerdale Water, and out to the Irish Sea on the north west coast. The river supports the largest freshwater pearl mussel population in England.
Exceptionally high densities of mussel are found at some locations along the length of the river, with population estimates exceeding 100,000. The conservation importance of the site is further enhanced by the presence of juvenile pearl mussels.
The freshwater pearl mussel is one of the longest-lived invertebrates known, and individuals can survive up to 250 years. Imagine living through all that history. Wow!