In the past there were many Inns dotted along the old Pack pony routes, providing the same service to travellers that service stations and Travel Lodges provide today. The Pack Pony Inns would also provide a small field for the ponies and a safe building in which to store their loaded packs. The pack men would be shown to a simple bed on which to lay his weary head, but not before having part-taken of the hospitality of the Inn, ie plenty of food and even more drink! In fact, as far as I know any establishment still trading under the title of an “Inn” is still supposed to offer a stable etc for the use of a traveller’s pony to this day. Some of these Inns still survive, you will know them by their names such as “The Pack Horse” in Keswick and “The Wool Pack” in both Kendal and Keswick. Many of you will be familiar with “The Wool Pack” in the TV soap Emmerdale, however, this pub is situated in the Yorkshire Dales and, at present, our routes don’t venture that far!
As I said there were many Pubs and Inns along the Pack pony routes and the Pack men liked to visit as many as possible throughout their day. The lead pony of the train, usually an older mare, would wear a bell around her neck. Each pony bell would have a different tone, well known to the ear of her pack man. It is said that the pack man would leave his pony train to be lead by the old mare, and head off down the track to the next Inn. Whist dampening the dust in his throat he would keep an ear open for his particular mares bell passing by. When he heard her pass with the rest of the train, between 20 to 30 ponies all travelling in a line nose to tail, he would finish whatever it was he was drinking, mount his riding pony and catch them up, only to repeat this exercise a few more miles along his way.
On our Pack pony trek you won’t be lodging in any Inns, as most have now gone from the original routes and the ones that are left are now in the middle of busy Lakeland towns, and so no longer have facilities for ponies. Anyway ,it’s away from these busy places with their hustle and bustle we need to be, we want you to be able to get away from all that and enjoy a traffic free, stress free slower pace, the slow ,rhythmic pace of the Pack pony.
We will provide accommodation in the “Glamping” style of Camping. Each evening you, as our guests, will arrive at a pre booked campsite in the quiet, scenic fells above the Woodland, Ulpha and Duddon Valley. The campsites being centred around a traditional Lakeland Hill Farm. No traffic, no noise except the sound of the sheep, the birds and your pony munching nearby. Your Bell Tent will already have been erected for you. Having a woodburner, tea light chandelier, air beds, cooking facility and table and chairs. The campsite will have toilets and showers and will provide a paddock for your pony. Each site will be within a short distance of a traditional Lakeland pub offering excellent food and drink or you can cook your own evening meal on site if you wish. Breakfast and lunch hampers are included and will be delivered daily. A menu for these will be provided and so you can choose prior to delivery.
On leaving the campsite the following morning to resume your trek, we will come to dismantle your Bell Tent etc and then re-assemble it at your next evenings stopover. Your food and personal equipment etc will be carried by your pack pony in the saddle panniers. Depending on which route you choose to follow, an average of 6 to 8 miles will be covered each day.