Hawkshead, Lake District Sunday 27th May 2012

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Rowland Nock & Andrew Mayer   Disance: 10 miles

We will leave the picturesque village of Hawkshead via the church, heading towards Hawkshead Hill and on to Tarn Hows. Here we will have a brunch stop to enjoy the scene.
We then head off to Skelwith stopping again at Hollin Bank to take in the views. Wending our way round via Low Arnside, we will strike up to the trig point on the summit of Black Crag (322m) to enjoy the magnificent panoramic views of the area. This only involves a steady height gain of about 160 metres.
Descending in a southerly direction we return to Hawkshead via Iron Keld and Knipe Fold, hopefully in time for our usual tea and tiffin.

Moderate Leader: Jackie Gudgeon   Distance: 8 miles

From Hawkshead we follow paths on to Scar House Lane to Crofts Head, from where we commence a steady climb into the forested area of Claife Heights. This is a good track, uphill for about one mile, then increasingly steeply down hill to reach the shores of Windermere at Belle Grange. We then have a delightful walk along the shore to reach Wray Castle (National Trust, with cafe and toilets). From Wray Castle we have a short road walk before turning off to pass Blelham Tarn, then High Tock How, followed by field paths back to Hawkshead. We can detour from High Tock How, down a quiet lane, to climb Latterbarrow if time, weather and inclination allow.
A pleasant walk with wonderful views, particular from the Wray Castle area.

Leisurely Leader: Hazel Anderton & Ruth Melling   Distance: 7 miles

From Hawkshead there is a gentle climb along fields and forestry to Tarn Hows. We arrive near a main car park where there are toilets and an ice cream seller. Next we do a circuit, down one side and up the other of Glen Mary, a pretty little wooded valley with a gorge and waterfalls. On the return to Tarn Hows we skirt the south east of the tarn and then take an elevated footpath which is reputed to have the best view of the tarn. This footpath starts the journey back down to Hawkshead.
Generally we found the walk fairly good underfoot apart from Glen Mary where we need to take care. There were very few stiles if any. On route, up and down, we pass through the hamlet of Hawkshead Hill where an old lady sells pots of homemade jam in her porch, complete with an honesty box.

Easy Leader: Margaret Black & Cynthia Prescott   Distance: 4 miles

Soon after leaving the village a wooded footpath takes us uphill onto the edge of Grizedale Forest. This is quite a steep climb which we shall take steadily, giving time to admire the surrounding hills. Following this, the pathway through the forest is pleasantly level and leads to a possible lunch stop at a picnic area – alternatively there is also a pleasant streamside spot shortly afterwards in open pastureland. After lunch it is a gradual downhill walk partly across open fqrnland and along good footpaths with a distinct lack of stiles! There is a very short roadway stretch before returning to the footpath leading through the hamlet of Roger’s Ground and back into Hawkshead.

Notes On The Area

Hawkshead is an ancient market town situated at the head of Esthwaite Water. It derives its name from an original Norse settlement called ‘Hawkr’s saeter’ established about 900 AD. The clearance of the surrounding woodland to provide pasture for animals was encouraged by the monks of Furness Abbey, who introduced sheep to the fells in the 13th century. Hawkshead received its market charter in 1608 and for the next 200 years it served as the chief centre in Furness for the trade in woollen yarns. These yarns were spun from the fleece as a household industry within the town, and the long well-lit spinning gallery was a common feature of the townscape. The trade in locally produced cloth proved extremely profitable for a number of Hawkshead farmers, especially those who acquired their own land after the dissolution of Furness Abbey in 1537. These yeoman farmers were known locally as ‘statesmen’ and their wealth made Hawkshead famous for its ‘hiring fairs’ when servants could be hired by the local masters. By the 19th century, the domestic industry of Hawkshead had been eclipsed by the mechanised woollen mills of Kendal. Nevertheless the town survived as a centre for rural crafts like saddlery, tanning, basket-making and blacksmiths.

In Hawkshead there are no less than 38 buildings of special architectural or historic interest, many of them dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Grammar School was founded in 1585 by Edwin Sandys, the local born Archbishop of York. The school’s most famous pupil was the poet William Wordsworth, whose desk survives to this day. The present building dates from 1675. Over the entrance there is a memorial to Archbishop Sandys together with a sundial.

The 15th century church dominates the town from its position high upon Church Hill. Inside are a number of monuments and historical artefacts, together with a series of superb painted murals dating from 1680. In the churchyard is a copper sundial of 1693. the wooden lych gate of 1912, and the war memorial in the form of a Viking runic cross.

The early 18th century buildings on Church Hill are amongst the most attractive in Hawkshead. Pillar Cottage derives its name from the column which supports the outward jutting first floor, the entrance to which is approached by a flight of stone steps. Nearby is the only remaining spinning gallery. The length of the gallery was essential as it gave spinners the space to draw the thread to make yarn.

The market square is enclosed by 17th and 18th century shops and cottages. All are built in the traditional style of whitewashed roughcast with slate roofs. The Square would have been packed with traders’ stalls on Monday market days, and a number of the buildings have had their corners removed to allow access by horse-drawn carriages.