Edale Vaccaries

Upper Booth in the Vale of Edale, a medieval Vaccarie

Running from east to west along the Vale of Edale is a network of medieval settlements known as Vaccaries. Today they all carry the name Booth within their title starting at the eastern end with Nether Booth, then moving west along the valley, Ollerbrook, Grindsbrook, Barber and finally Upper Booth.

They were formed when the area was part of the Royal Forest and used for the intensive production of cattle, Vacca is Latin for Cow. The Vaccarie held a small isolated dwelling used to house workers and materials the herds being held out on the moors surrounding the Vaccarie. Disease was the prominent killer at that time in herds, Wolves in that period would have been a nuisance.

After the Black Death the Vaccaries fell in to disuse and were eventually rented out by the landowner to locally farmers, who developed the area into small settlements over time.

The buildings today date from the 16th century, after the establishment of the settlements. It was in this period that enclosure took place further up the valley sides with pasture being developed for sheep rearing, which produced better returns, by adding dry stone walls and hedges to make the patchwork of fields seen today. Lower down by the Vaccaries enclosure had been carried out much earlier.

This long linear valley is quite isolated, surrounded as it is be high moorland, which possibly led to it being named Edale, which mean Island Valley. Travel along its length would have meant passing through the individual Vaccarie, leaving the final one Upper Booth to ascend the packhorse route up Jacobs Ladder over to Hayfield and beyond.

Nether Booth used to be known as Lady Booth and sits by Lady Booth Brook, Lady Booth Farm sited close by. All of the Vaccaries were situated by sources of running water. The first documented evidence of their existence is in the mid 1300’s when Grindsbrook Booth was mentioned. The Booths were divided by hedge, wall or brook from each other, the divisions more clearly seen today on the upper northern side from the bottom of the Vale.

Further away from the Booths the valley was developed in the 17th and 18th century and remains much the same today. Further farms were added as land ownership and requirements changed. Boundaries were moved as farms grew or diminished. In the 19th century roads and rail arrived and the Vale ceased to be an island.