Pathways > The Pathways book > The corpse road

The corpse road

Corpse roadCorpse roads can be found in many remote parts of Britain. They may be marked on the map using a variety of names - corpse way, coffin road, bier way, lyke or lych way being just a few. They often pass through bleak and desolate places, partly because landowners feared the routes might become standard passages for trade and travel. The difficulties encountered by the funeral procession as it waded through the mire were often therefore deliberate - no-one would take the route unless they had to.

Corpse roads reflected the desire of the church to keep the people of their parish within the fold, even within death. Not surprisingly the paths became steeped in folklore; tales of ghostly happenings are commonplace and rituals were often performed, particularly at river crossings and crossroads, to help prevent the spirits of the dead returning.

The Mardale corpse road walk, featured in the book, is free to download once you have joined as a member of Walkingworld.

There is a special thread in the Pathways forum on corpse and coffin routes, should you wish to join in the discussion.

Below is a list of other corpse and coffin roads:

Bedfordshire

There is free parking at start and beautiful views of Aylesbury Vale and the Bedfordshire countryside. Part of the walk takes you down Coffin Lane - a corpse road - which is said to be haunted by a headless woman and a black dog with one eye. After... More info

ID:
2748
Length:
6.8 Miles
Grade:
Moderate Walk

Cumbria

A somewhat neglected circuit from Haweswater which, rather than climbing to the tops, explores a very remote valley and returns via the Old Corpse Road. Walk featured in the 'Pathways' book.... More info

ID:
280
Length:
8.7 Miles
Grade:
Moderate Walk

The walk is in the lovely area of Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is fairly level walking and takes a step back to medieval England. Along the way you'll find a corpse road, a mill, an 'erratic', some fairy steps, a... More info

ID:
5620
Length:
5 Miles
Grade:
Easy Walk

The summits of Selside, Branstree, Tarn Crag and Grey Crag are traversed before returning to Swindale via the remote Mosedale. The walk uses the Old Corpse Road from Mardale to Shap before we turn off to walk the little-used footpaths and open access... More info

ID:
5622
Length:
13.1 Miles
Grade:
Mountain Challenge

Highland

Beginning ten miles south-west of Inverness at the Clansman Hotel, on the west shore of Loch Ness, this circular walk on good paths takes you up through hazel and birch woods to several viewpoints overlooking the loch. It's a good stop to have... More info

ID:
3563
Length:
2.5 Miles
Grade:
Moderate Walk

Outer Hebrides

The joy of this walk is in its contrasts. Starting among the rocky moonscape rocks on the east coast of Harris, the route of the Bealach Eorabhat – The Coffin or Corpse Road – leads you gently upwards, through a dark and peaty wilderness, to be... More info

ID:
4485
Length:
8.7 Miles
Grade:
Moderate Walk