AN author is hoping to breathe new life into an old corpse road.

The ancient path - once used to carry the dead from Bassenthwaite to Caldbeck - was almost forgotten but is now featured in a new edition of Corpse Roads of Cumbria.

Corpse roads were used in medieval times to take the dead to the 'mother' church. Although village churches have long had their own burial rights, many of Cumbria's corpse roads survive as public footpaths.

The Bassenthwaite corpse road starts at Barkbeth Farm, north-east of Bassenthwaite.

Whitehaven author Alan Cleaver said: "This corpse road was noted on the Bassenthwaite's Millennium Map but otherwise it's history has so far gone unrecorded.

"I hope the corpse road will now become a popular tourist route in the same way as the Grasmere and Shap corpse roads have become."

Farmer Malcolm Ewart of Barkbeth Farm has a special link with the route. It goes through his farm and his grandfather told him how a dilapidated barn beside the path had once been used an an inn where mourners would rest the night before continuing their sad journey to Caldbeck. The barn still exists.

Mr Cleaver, 59, said: "The barn is a remarkable link to a bygone age and it's astonishing how oral tradition has kept the memory of this sacred path alive."

Mr Ewart was told by his grandfather that the path then turned east onto the fells before heading north to Caldbeck. However Mr Cleaver and co-author Lesley Park advise tourists to follow the Cumbrian way.

The linear walk is nine miles long but Mr Cleaver suggests people can walk small stretches of it at a time.

He said: "The walk takes in some beautiful countryside including spectacular views across the county. It would be wonderful if we could woo some of the tourists from the hot-spots of Keswick and Coniston to this beautiful part of the county."

The new edition of Corpse Roads of Cumbria also corrects the route of Loweswater's corpse road.

Mr Cleaver said: "It was wrongly stated in the 1980s by the National Trust that the corpse road ran along the side of the fell at Loweswater but this is an error. Thanks to research by historian Dr Roger Asquith we can now confidently state it goes through Holme Wood on its route to Fangs Brow and St Bees."

Corpse Roads of Cumbria is £10 from bookshops.

Mr Cleaver is talking on the county's corpse roads and other ancient paths on Tuesday, May 14 at 7.30pm at Skiddaw Hotel, Keswick. Tickets are £3 from Bookends, Keswick.