Duddon Bridge is a tiny hamlet that lies on the border of the Copeland Borough and to the South.
Within this beautiful, most scenic area is the Duddon Iron Works, one of the most impressive charcoal fired blast furnaces in Britain. Now in the care of the Lake District National Park, it is the most complete surviving example of an iron producing site in the UK.
William Wordsworth loved the Lake District but had a particular fondness for the Duddon Valley. As a child he explored all around this spectacular area and later composed a series of 35 sonnets commending the area. He recalls time spent there contemplating the passing of life and the rugged and wooded beauty that surrounds the countryside there. Being off the beaten track it has become a rich rewarding venture for present day hikers and visitors alike.
“Pure flow the verse, pure, vigorous, free and bright
For Duddon, long loved Duddon is my theme”
(1st Duddon Sonnet)
The river Duddon flows through the valley and is a popular place for swimming and fishing being in one of the most beautiful and unspoilt areas of the Lake District. As you take in the spectacular surrounding views, you can rest and reflect on Wordsworth’s timeless lament:-
“For backward Duddon!
As I cast my eyes
I see what was and is
And will abide;
Still glides the stream
And shall forever glide”
Ulpha is a small village which lies within the Duddon Valley. It’s name is thought to have derived from the old Norse words ‘ulf’ meaning ‘wolf’ and ‘urghr’ meaning ‘hill’, becoming known as ‘the hill frequented by wolves’. Ulpha sits within the Lake District National Park and forms part of the Borough of Copeland with only a population of around 128. From here you can take a road that leaves the Duddon Valley and crosses Birker Fell to the valley of Eskdale.
With this village is the Church of St John which dates back to the reign of King Henry 111 and was dedicated to St John the Baptist. William Wordsworth referred to this church in his Sonnets of the Duddon’. He wrote:
“Kirk of Ulpha to the pilgrim’s eye
is as welcome as a star, that doth present
Its shining forehead through the peaceful rent
Of a black cloud diffused o’er half the sky;
How sweet were leisure! could it yield no more
Than mid that wave-washed churchyard to recline,
From pastoral graves extracting thoughts divine
Or there is to pace,and mark the summit’s hear
Of distant moonlit mountains faintly shine,
Sooth’d by the unseen river’s gentle roar”