Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria Sunday 25th September 2016

Today’s Walk

Strenuous Leader : Donna Callaghan   Distance : 9.80 miles

Along tracks, fields, marsh, a short walk on road, gates and a few stiles. It could be wet underfoot.
We start with our back to Devil’s Bridge, up past the caravan park, under the disused railway line and then onto Wandales Lane. Next we turn onto Bridleway Fell Road. Then a bit of a stiff climb (walking on road for about 800m). At the top is an enormous cairn, a substantial shelter here for lunch. At the trig point were views of Howegill Head, Barbon High Fell and Casterton Fell. Then back DOWN via Beckside and Castleton golf course.

Moderate Leader: Selwyn Williams   Distance : 8.50 miles

Starting at Devil’s Bridge we head out towards High Casterton and then to Blindloss Farm leading to Fellfoot Road, an old drover’s lane green underfoot between dry stone walls.
If the weather is kind you can look around and see nature’s autumn harvest, blackberries, sloes, hazelnuts and elderberries. Along this way, there are large boulders enclosed on all sides with walls. I am intrigued as to their origins and purpose, and would value an opinion.
When we reach Tuplot Wood, we stroll across meadow via Langthwaite to reach Casterton which we skirt round to go past the impressive Casterton Hall and in my case, fail to find Marigold Well, probably due to a path diversion.
An unfortunate length of road walking brings us back to the coach.
After changing into your comfy shoes, you can stroll into Kirkby Lonsdale and for those of you who can’t get enough of a good thing, cross the bridge and take the riverside path to Radical Steps and Ruskin View to enter the town via the church graveyard. This detour adds less than half a mile to the distance to the town.

Leisurely Leader: Philomena Walker   Distance 6.25 miles

We cross Devil’s Bridge and walk south along the River Lune for about 1½ miles to Coneygarth Lane. We go north along this track, along the path to Home farm at Whittingham, and cross the road to go along Hostickle Lane passing Hagg Wood. We then turn right picking up a track to Sellet Mill and a further track to Wood End and onto the road leading back to Kirkby Lonsdale.

Easy Leader: Adelaide Houghton   Distance : 5.00 miles

This circular walk north of Devil’s Bridge is a compromise as the planned walk along the river had to be abandoned due to land slips.
It starts going north across fields with one short sharp uphill climb, then a good long stretch along quiet country lanes with good views of the surrounding countryside. Once back on fields there is a possible lunch stop. After passing Kerstwick and Underley Home Farm we stroll thru parkland alongside a stream then onto a woodland path above the River Lune which brings us to Ruskin’s View. Finally, we can go into Kirkby Lonsdale for the cafes and pubs and/or continue along the river path back to Devil’s Bridge and the coach.

Notes On The Area

Kirkby Lonsdale is one of several lovely old villages in the Lune Valley. It is on high ground overlooking a bend in the River Lune and is surrounded by beautiful countryside. It was originally a crossing point over the Lune and was mentioned in the Doomsday Book. It is a town of dignified, stone buildings, many 18th century, which spread out from the market square in narrow alleys, some quite steep, and cobbled courtyards, with names like The Horsemarket, Salt Pie Lane, and Jingling Lane. According to local tradition, this lane acquired its name because it ‘jingles’ if someone treads heavily along it. This may be an echoing effect from an old tunnel said to exist beneath the surface.

Market Day is on Thursday, when the square is crammed with stalls. Dotted among the more modest buildings are some on a grander scale. They include the mid-Victorian Market House on the corner of Market Street, and the early 18th century Old Manor House in Mill Brow. There are several Inns, including the 17th century Sun Hotel with three pillars at the front, and the Royal Hotel, named after William IV’s widow Queen Adelaide, who convalesced here in 1840. Alongside Mill Brow many mills grew up using the force of the fast flowing water.

The town has two bridges over the Lune – an ancient beautiful one called Devil’s Bridge, supposedly built by the Devil – and a new one, definitely not beautiful, built by man in 1932. It is said that when the Devil put up his bridge, he claimed the first living thing to cross it – which turned out to be an old dog. Local historians say that the bridge dates from before 1368; there are records to show that repairs were carried out then, and that the vicar of St Mary’s raised the money to pay for it. Modern traffic can now no longer use it and it is Grade 1 listed.

The Lune near Devil’s Bridge is popular with scuba divers as it has some deep pools, and is also popular for the illegal ‘tombstoning’. St Mary’s churchyard has an unusual feature – an elegant eight-sided gazebo, or pavilion. It was probably built in the 18th century to provide a sheltered point from which to enjoy the magnificent views of the Lune valley, which the 19th century art critic John Ruskin called ‘one of the loveliest scenes in England, and therefore the world’. The viewpoint is known as Ruskin’s view. The Norman church is noted for the distinctive diamond patterns on some of its columns on the north side of the nave. St Mary’s was extensively restored in the mid-1880’s when workmen uncovered burn marks in the tower. The marks were probably made in 1314 when the church was set on fire by roving Scots celebrating their victory at Bannockburn.

Many motorbike enthusiasts gather at Kirkby Lonsdale every Sunday.