Kirkby Lonsdale – 24th April 2022

Moderate: Pamela                                       Distance :  8.00 miles

Our walk today starts at Devil’s Bridge with an uphill climb that gets gentler as we get into the ramble, go under the disused railway, over the Roman road and out to Bindloss Farm.  Weather permitting, we will lunch on the ridge before Tuplot Wood.  We then head down into and around Casterton, the Hall and Marigold Well if the path is not diverted.  We will skirt round the golf course and down into Kirkby Lonsdale for a well earned cup of tea and look around the town, or maybe a pint!

Easy Leader :  Jackie                                  Distance : 5.00 miles

After visiting the toilets at the far side of Devil’s Bridge, we return past the coach to follow Chapelhouse Lane, through the small hamlet of Crag House Farm, to reach Wandale Lane, a Roman Road.  We follow this dead straight road northwards for about half a mile before turning up a lane to reach Fellfoot Road, a track, which we follow for about a mile.  All the walk up to now is uphill, steady, but not steep!  which we can take as slowly as necessary, enjoying the views as we go. We are then following tracks and lanes through Casterton, Bees Nest, Casterton Golf Course and back to Devil’s Bridge.  A short walk can be taken into Kirkby Lonsdale itself where there are numerous shops and cafes to while away the rest of the afternoon.

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 at the top of the village 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.

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