Staveley, Cumbria Sunday 29th September 2013

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Jimmy Need & Carole Rankin     Distance: approx. 10 miles

From Staveley we make our way through the woods of the Craggy Plantation, turn NE and go cross country to Side House via Littlewood Farm and Frost Hole. We then climb up to Potter Tarn and make our way across Potter Fell to Gurnal Dubs. At Birk Rigg we head south and eventually join the Dales Way by Sprint Mill. Then onto the woods at Beckmickle Ing and back to Staveley via Staveley Park, hopefully in time for a drink.

A varied, undulating walk with great views.

Moderate Leader: Peter Denton     Distance: 8 miles

This is a hill walk, our aim if you choose to accept it is to have our lunch up at Potter Tarn. However I have not yet managed to reach this Tarn, which seems to be my nemesis. This will be my third attempt. The weather has stopped me every time. The rain was so heavy on the day of the recce I had to abandon the recce so parts of this walk will be new to us all. I hope this day will see us conquer this non event. Where upon a great day of rambling WILL be enjoyed by one and all. Together, victory is Tea and a scone.

Leisurely Leader: Derek Lee     Distance: 7 miles

The first mile and a half past Staveley Park is quite level, but will probably be muddy in places. In the next mile we climb 500 feet to Potter Tarn – the last 100 feet are quite steep. With luck we can stop for lunch either by the side of this attractive, remote reservoir or in the shelter of the dam. Then downhill for a mile and a half to the river at Bowston from where we make our way back on the riverside Dales Way.

Easy Leader: Cynthia Prescott & Hazel Anderton     Distance: 5 miles

It is quite a pleasant varied walk along grass fields, little country lanes and through woods alongside the main valley, and then up a tributary stream to a little waterfall at Side House.  We could turn back from here but would recommend an extra bit going up to Frost Hole as it is pleasant, and we could lunch here away from trees and mozzies.

We then make our way back to Staveley along the River Kent on the Dales Way.  There are some uphill bits but nothing too strenuous, some spots are muddy especially in the woods and there are only a few stiles, although some are tall ladder stiles along the river.

Notes On The Area

Staveley is a large, mainly residential village, now bypassed, of grey slate cottages and houses, sandwiched between the River Gowan and the River Kent, at the southern end of the valley of Kentmere. The area around Staveley has been inhabited since about 4000BC, at a time when trees grew extensively on the fellsides. The first permanent settlers were Celtic speaking British farmers, and they were followed in AD90 by the Romans, who had a road to the south of the village linking Kendal and Ambleside.

During the Dark Ages and later medieval times, the village and its neighbours grew, developed and were plundered in much the same way as many other villages throughout Cumbria. But by the time of the Industrial Revolution, the village was quick to expand as transport improved. So it was that Staveley became the bobbin-turning capital of Westmorland, so much so that by 1851 there were more families working at the manufacture of bobbins than there were engaged in farming. By the 20th century, the bobbin industry had ended and new manufacturing industries developed – diatomite, motor cycles and photographic paper – and Staveley is still a small industrial village.

Staveley was granted a market charter in the 13th century, and also held a three-day fair each year. In 1338 the lord of the manor, Sir William Thweng, agreed to build a chapel in honour of St Margaret. St Margaret’s Church, of which only the tower now remains, was founded in 1388. A plaque on the tower commemorates Staveley men of the F Company, Second V B Border Regiment, who served in the South Africa Campaign 1900-01 under Major John Thompson. In 1864 it was decided to build a new church, and this was dedicated to St James. This later church has some beautiful stained glass designed by Burne-Jones and made by William Morris’s company.

The vale of Kentmere contains the source of the River Kent, a river that gave its name to Kendal. At the head of the dale, the village of Kentmere gathers around its church. There used to be a lake or ‘mere’ just to the south of the church, where now there is nothing more than a swelling in the river, but the lake was only a shallow affair and was drained in about 1840 to provide land for agriculture. In 1955, dredging along the river to gather diatomite for a processing plant at nearby Waterfoot uncovered what were believed to be two 10th century wooden canoe-like boats, the best of which was later presented to the National Maritime Museum. These finds give a clear indication that the valley was inhabited from early times, and may well have been when the Romans were here, building their great highway across High Street.