Located four kilometres north of Kendal, Skelsmergh occupies an
area bounded on the east by the River Mint, on the west by the River Sprint and on the south by the River Kent.
Scalthwaiterigg is adjacent to Skelsmergh and lies to the south-east on the opposite bank of the Mint.
It rises on the east to the prominent bulk of Benson Knott (317m.) and Hay Fell. The landscape tells a story which
goes back millennia, bearing the unmistakable imprint of the last ice age in the form of the small rounded hills,
‘drumlins’, and in the litter of distinctive pink Shap granite boulders, known as ‘glacial erratics’. These epic
events of the past have left us a countryside which has since been shaped and by the stewardship of generations
of farmers, enclosing the fields with walls and hedges, draining the wet areas and in the process creating the
surroundings which our residents value so highly and which contributes to the distinctiveness of the two parishes
and to their attractiveness as places to live.
The undulating landscape forms a patchwork of neat, grazed fields bounded by hedges and dry stone walls with small
farmsteads nestling comfortably in the folds. The woodlands are generally unmanaged but still provide good and varied
wildlife habitat. Largely consisting of a scatter of farms and small hamlets, the parishes are notable for having no
single centre of population, with concentrations at Mealbank,Garth Row and Oakbank. The church of St John the
Baptist and the adjacent Community Hall stand in isolation above the A6 and form a prominent landmark. In the
nineteenth century there was a significant manufacturing and industrial presence in the area with water powered
mills at Oakbank, Scarfoot, Stocks Mill, Gilthwaiterigg, and three at Mealbank. They produced bobbins, snuff,
dyes, cereal and woollen products. Many of the buildings remain and are still providing employment, but on a
lesser scale than in their heyday.