Kendal, Cumbria Sunday 24th January 2016

Today’s Walk

Strenuous Leader: Andrew Mayer   Distance: approx. 11.0 miles

We head out of Kendal, towards Oxenholme railway station on the public footpath, heading towards New Hutton. After approx. 1.5 to 2 hours we stop for lunch. We then return to Kendal via fields and public footpaths. Total walk time about 5 hours, distance approx. 11 miles

Moderate/leisurely Leaders: David & Cynthia Prescott   Distance : 7.0 miles

Height gain: 300 metres
This is a pleasant walk with good views all the way from Kendal up to the limestone escarpment of Scout Scar which gives unimpeded views towards the Lakeland Fells. The first part of the walk is rising and climbs fairly steeply up the road out of Kendal from the Town Hall. So we expect to take our time over this stretch. At the top of the hill, at the viewpoint, we find a stone shelter with lots of seating so we hope to use this for lunch. We come downhill on field tracks, across the golf course, through a wood and then down cobbled paths and lanes into town.

Kendal suffered badly in the past view weeks from heavy rain and floods but we were surprised to find when we did the recci on 6th January (after more rain) that the conditions were pretty good and any mud was not deep. Most of the time we could walk a few paces to the side to avoid it. It was certainly better than the conditions we usually find at this time of the year. Limestone drains well.

Good toilet facilities can be found at the entrance to the K Village shopping precinct on the road into town below the Leisure Centre coach park so we shall meet with everyone there to start the walk.

Easy Leader : Derek Lee   Distance : 5.0 miles

This walk is a linear walk and will leave the coach soon after we turn off the M6.

First, there is a short walk (300 yds) to Low Sizergh Barn for coffee and other services. Then we join a pleasant, mostly wooded, riverside footpath as far as Natland, next a footpath following the line of the old canal into Kendal. This is a fairly easy walk which will pass the coach, parked at the Leisure Centre, after 4 miles. But we can continue another mile into Kendal where those who feel deprived of hills can climb the 120 feet up to the castle remains to enjoy the view. The route might have to be changed slightly from that originally planned because of flood damage.

Notes On The Area

Kendal, an affluent town, is the largest in the defunct county of Westmorland, and 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.

These days it makes its money from tourism and can be regarded as the gateway to the Lake District. It is also the home of Kendal Mint Cake, the minty sweet confectionery which has been taken on many expeditions because of its high glucose content. Kendal is also involved in the manufacture of pipe tobacco and snuff.

The town is full of character with lots of interesting buildings, especially Georgian, with many yards and narrow alleyways which reflect the pattern of development that had evolved by the 18th century.

The main artery is Highgate – part of a devilish one-way system – with the wynds and the courtyards linking Highgate with the River Kent.

Kendal, where six bridges cross the river, 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. However, 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 now 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 peel of 10 bells.

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