Kendal, Cumbria Sunday 26th February 2012

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Dag Griffiths   Distance: 12 miles

From the K-Village we make our way to the footpath to Helsfell Nab, skirting the golf course and crossing the A591 via a footbridge. On reaching Cunswick Scar we pass through woods heading for Capplerigg en route to picking up the bridle path to Lindreth Brow (lunch stop). Next objective is Tranthwaite Hall before skirting Underbarrow. Now comes the ‘sting in the tail’ – up through woods to Scout Scar, the highest point of today’s walk (229 metres). Kendal is now back in view and we cross the former racecourse to pick up a lane back to the town centre. On the day of the ‘recce’ the ground was frozen and firm under foot. Let’s hope for more of the same, otherwise be prepared for mud!

Moderate Leader: Cynthia & Dave Prescott   Distance: 8 miles, Height Gain 330 metres

This is a pleasant walk from Kendal to the limestone escarpment of Scout Scar and Cunswick Scar, both of which give unimpeded views towards the higher Lakeland fells. We will start at the K-Village/Leisure Centre where the coach parks and walk along the river to the town centre. There is then a climb up towards the old racecourse, open moorland and to the top of the hills to the west of Kendal. There are good views on the way up (especially if you look back down on Kendal) and super views ahead when you reach Scout Scar. We then go along the limestone edge on good paths to a viewpoint and continue to Cunswick Scar. Most of the paths on this walk are stony tracks and there are no very muddy fields. Honest! Kissing gates have now replaced many of the old stiles and where there are stiles they are pretty good. The return takes us on a public path through the golf course and on down through a lovely wood to town.

Easy Leader: Sue Daniels   Distance: 5 miles

After first visiting a cosy and inviting tea shop, we will be doing a very easy stroll along the River Kent. We will hopefully make it as far as Sedgwick and then make our way back. Alternatively, depending on what everyone on the walk would prefer, we could cut the river walk a bit shorter and visit the remains of Kendal Castle. I have not pre-walked this ramble, but did virtually the same one last year.

Notes On The Area

Kendal, the largest town in the defunct county of Westmorland, was formerly an important woollen textile centre, an industry that was founded by John Kemp, a Flemish weaver, in 1331. The town is always bustling, and it remains an important Cumbrian settlement. It is largely built from grey limestone, the local rock.

The main artery is Highgate – part of a devilish one-way system – from which flows a series of wynds or courtyards, now less obvious than of old, but linking Highgate with the River Kent. It has been suggested that these many named and numbered yards and alleyways were part of the town’s defensive system, and characteristic of settlements that were constantly under threat from raiders, but many of them were built long after the Scottish raids ended, and may, therefore, reflect no more than the pattern of development that had evolved by the 18th century, when most of them were built.

The town stands on the banks of the River Kent, crossed by six bridges, and has been a place of strategic importance since the Romans built a fort, of which little is now visible, to the south of the town. The fort was called Alauna, and seems to have been occupied from AD80 to the 4th century, and would have been built to command the roads to Lancaster, Ambleside, Low Borrow Bridge in the Lune valley, and Brougham.

Kendal Castle, a roughly circular earthwork surrounded by a ditch, stands on a hill just outside the town, and probably dates from the 12th century. Additional features date from the 13th and 14th centuries, when it was the home of the Barons of Kendal and their centre of administration and defence. By the late 16th century, the castle was in an advanced state of decay, and has remained so ever since. Even so, most of the castle wall survives along with one of its towers. The manor hall was by far the most important building in the castle, and parts of this also remain. Because several footpaths run through the grounds, the castle is open at all times.

The church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity is Cumbria’s largest parish church, and dates from the 13th century, though it is essentially a Victorian creation, having been significantly altered during restorations that took place between 1850 and 1852. It was built on the site of an earlier church, and has five aisles, two each side of the nave and chancel, and a fine western tower with a peal of 10 bells.

Author Alfred Wainwright was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, but lived in Kendal from 1941 until his death in 1991. He eventually became the town’s borough treasurer, but is renowned for the many books be composed in his unique style about both the Lakeland he loved, and other parts of Britain, especially Scotland and Wales. The tourist information office in Kendal Town Hall used to be Wainright’s office from 1947 to 1967.