Category Archives: Lancaster Canal

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY – A KENDAL INTERLUDE.

A Kendal snapshot.

Nick Burton’s book Wainright’s Way is far more than a walking guide as he incorporates so much well researched biographical detail of AW. Already I’ve have covered his early life in Blackburn which included a look at the town where he lived from 1907 – 1941.

Now having reached Kendal, where AW lived from 1941 until his death in 1991, Nick takes a short tour of the town pointing out places AW was associated with and I found much of interest on my stroll around. Kendal Civic Society has placed green information plaques everywhere marking historic buildings, far too many for me to mention here, all I can say is that Kendal is worth a days visit.  It was not a town I was particularly well acquainted with, in the past queuing through the main street on the way to and from the Lakes, now it is thankfully by-passed.  Visits to the climbing wall in an old milk processing mill on the outskirts gave no time for exploring the town and anyhow the traffic is awful and parking difficult.

Today I start above Kendal Green, a lovely open space, at the end of a culdesac where AW had a house built in 1949. He lived here with his first wife, Ruth, and then with his second, Betty until his death. Being elevated he had good views to the Kentmere Fells. What a contrast to Audley Range in Blackburn.

AW would walk down past Kendal Green on his way to work, this is a large open space with mature trees. Halfway down is a plaque commemorating an oak planted in 1864 to celebrate Shakespeare’s 300th birthday. I wasn’t sure that oak was still standing but there is a further plaque for one planted in 1964, 400 years since his death. The link is explained in the first plaque.

At the lower end, you arrive at Windermere Road where AW caught buses to the Lakes on a Sunday. Here also is the corner shop where he stocked up on pipe tobacco.

The long straight road into the town is  Stricklandgate leading to the distinctive Town Hall where AW worked from 1941 to 1967, becoming Borough Treasurer in 1948.

To get here I passed the  Library, Stricklandgate House, and ‘Wainwright’s Yard’ The latter a newly developed shopping arcade made more memorable by the present-day premises of Westmorland Gazette who published most of AW’s books.

The ‘yard’ is one of the dozens off the main street that at one time hosted small industries and shops, most have been altered over the years but all are numbered and can be located with a leaflet from the tourist information. One nearby is named Webster Yard after the architect who designed much of 19th-century Kendals’ prominent housing. Another is C17th Sandes Hospital built with wool money, it now encloses rebuilt almshouses designed by Webster’s firm. Apparently many of the properties AW would have known were demolished in the 1970s.

 

Sandes Hospital

I wandered into the back yard/garden of The Brewery, formerly a Vaux brewery and now an arts centre and Yough Hostel, and was delighted to see the Leyland clock which I’ve discussed in a previous post about the A6 over Shap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further on are some ornate gates that lead to Holy Trinity Church. Built when Kendal was prosperous from the wool trade it is one of the widest churches in the country with five aisles. What an amazing church.

There is the Old Grammar School and Abbot Hall and I’m on the banks of the Kent for a riverside walk. A small park had a plaque referring to K Shoes, once one of Kendal’s largest industries. Howard Somervell of Everest fame, 1920, belonged to the family running K Shoes and naturally wore Kendal-made boots on the mountain. Nearby is a record of historic flood levels.

MIller Bridge, Webster designed, was built in 1818 as part of a complex of warehouses serving the terminal basin of the Lancaster Canal. Aynam Mills were originally for the wool trade but in AW’s time were the premises of a well-known tobacco and snuff manufacturer, Illingworth’s. I became a little lost in the maze of lanes amongst all these warehouses, many being put to good use.

My route took me along an elegant Georgian terrace the home of the all-encompassing Kendal architect George Webster. A little further was another terraced area with an open space where the residents dry their clothes to this day.

I passed another church and then Castle Dairy one of the oldest occupied houses in Kendal. Apparently, the Elizabethan interior is worth viewing as part of a meal in the restaurant now in the building.

 

 

 

 

Round the corner is the town’s Museum where AW was heavily involved for the time he was in Kendal. It was closed today so I was not able to view a collection of Wainwright memorabilia.

Over the busy Victoria Bridge with associated sympathetic warehouse accommodations alongside the Kent. Ahead back on Stricklandgate was the third of Kendal’s parish churches. On the next corner are the premises of Titus Wilson, printers since 1860, AW’s first publisher.

It was now a short walk back up the side of Kendal Green.

Kendal is certainly worthy of further exploration.  I can appreciate it would be a good place to live and did I mention Kendal Mintcake?

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 7. HAWES BRIDGE TO MITCHELLAND, B5284.

Sir Hugh and I are progressing on our Wainwright Way journey, over halfway now. We’ve been able to do at least one trip a week between other commitments and weather windows. Today we pass through Kendal, AW’s hometown from 1941 to his death in 1991, featured prominently in his Westmorland Heritage book, 1974. Then we climb Scout Scar one of AW’s The Outlying Fells, 1974, “ a pictorial guide to lesser fells .. of Lakeland written primarily for old age pensioners…”  We were hoping for good views from this fell into Lakeland and in particular the Kentmere fells leading to High Street our objective in a couple of day’s time.

The day starts well with a gentle stroll along the River Kent into Kendal, we chose a riverside option over the suggested canal route which we have both very familiar with. Perfect, sunny and clear, boding well for the day ahead. The filled-in Lancaster Canal was joined on the edge of town as it headed for defunct wharves and warehouses at the heart of a previously industrial Kendal, the coming of the canal improved the supply of coal from Lancashire to those industries. However today we were diverted up past an enormous cemetery to visit what remains of Kendal Castle on its elevated hill. AW, when he first moved here lived in a council house just to the north-west of here.

Castle Grove AW’s first house in Kendal.

Many of Kendal’s dog walkers were up here this morning enjoying the weather and views, Scout Scar was prominent to the west whilst looking north to the Lakes there were some ominous clouds on the summits. The castle has guarded over Kendal since the C12th and has apparently strong links with Katherine Parr, the 6th wife of Henry VIII.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Heading down we walked through neat Victorian terraces, crossed the River Kent on a footbridge and joined the crowds on Kendals high street. The town hall where AW was Borough Treasurer stands proud at the top of the street.  When I explored Kendal recently I was unable to find Collin Croft one of the sites sketched by  AW in his Westmorland Heritage, I tried a little harder today and we found our way into a hidden maze of alleys typical of the town.

We then walked up leafy streets heading out of town. A sign above a gateway alluded to links with a previous Presbyterian Chapel. An obelisk appeared without any information. Over the Kendal bypass, interesting milepost,  we entered fields that are marked as an old racecourse and also the start of the Lake District National Park. The sky was clouding over despite the optimistic forecast. Scout Scar, or more correctly Underbarrow Scar, is a limestone escarpment popular with the people of Kendal and today walkers and joggers appeared from all directions.  We arrived onto the ridge near a large cairn with the trig point to the north. It was then that the heavy rain hit us, views disappeared and we walked on grimly towards the ‘mushroom’  shelter. Any semi-shelter was already taken and it was too cold to hang about so we just carried on to the end of the fell, a slight anticlimax to what should have been a memorable situation. The shelter was erected in 1912 in recognition of George V’s coronation. It has a 360-degree indicator which I had been interested in viewing but all that was lost in our haste to get off the fell.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Calmer sunnier conditions returned as we walked off nearby Cunswick Scar on Gamblesmire Lane, a bridleway we followed down into a different landscape. Undulating green fields, stone walls, sheep, whitewashed squat farms all make up the Cumbrian landscape, of course in AW’s time it was Westmorland. Gamblesmire Lane, almost Quagmire Lane in parts continued through this landscape. In sections it was a unique, hedge defined rollercoaster.

We eventually found somewhere to sit and eat and then it was field after field heading towards an isolated tower. A farmer was sorting out his sheep for market and seemed keen to chat, he must lead an isolated life up here. Eventually, we reached the restored bell tower of the C17th St. Catherine’s Church, the rest of the church was demolished and a new one built a short distance away, seen in the picture below.

A Wainwright. 1975.

 

More idyllic fields were traversed and we were soon back at the car and a drive home in lovely low sun.

*****

WAINWRGHTS WAY. 6. HOLME TO HAWES BRIDGE [NATLAND]

 

 

This walk gets better and better. We are lucky today with the weather, sun and heavy showers. We only had a few of the latter, whenever Sir Hugh put his waterproofs on the sun came out. The walk out of Holme was easy along a couple of quiet lanes which brought us to Holme Mills the linen mill I mentioned in my last post. A delightful spot with its mill pond but we had taken the wrong way and were well off course. Rewind back into Holme and we started again, this time picking up the path alongside Holme Beck with a series of squeeze stiles. These iconic stones become a feature of the day linking fields together.

We then had a few flooded fields to negotiate to reach the A6.

Safely across the floods with Farleton in the background.                                         

Now little lanes, between occasional characterful cottages, ran parallel to the A6 but in a different time zone. This is limestone country.

 

We passed the fortified farmstead of Beetham Hall, built to defend the locals from marauding Scots.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Next, we were in Beetham, a little hamlet with a long history from the Doomsday Book. I didn’t know about the village stocks until today but I’ve spent many hours in the village pub, the C17th Wheatsheaf Inn. What made Beetham prosperous was the corn mill dating from the C12th and we passed it on the River Bela.

What followed was a promenade through the parkland of Dallam Tower with its Fallow Deer wandering freely. We exited by a bridge over the River Bela before it slides into the Kent Estuary.

Milnthorpe was bypassed on an enclosed path climbing a little ridge with superb views of the Kent Estuary and the Lakeland fells ahead. Across the way was St. Anthony’s Tower a ‘folly’ erected in 1832 as a memorial to the passing of the Great Reform Act, they did things like that in those days. A folly to remember ‘Brexit’  would be very appropriate – but where would you erect it?

A Wainwright. 1975.

We popped out onto the A6 and walked down the pavement until a lane going right. Paths were followed into Heversham, crossing at one point the disused Furness rail line linking Arnside to the main west coast line at Hindcaster. We passed Dallam school, a well-respected establishment. Lunch was taken on a seat in the churchyard of St. Peter’s. There was an ancient cross [?C8th] in the porch but the inside of the church was uninspiring Victorian, having been ‘restored’ by the Lancaster firm of architects Sharpe, Paley and Austin. They were responsible for a large amount of work on churches and country houses in the north-west.

Avoiding the A6 surprisingly steep paths over little hills gave good views down the Kent Estuary, ahead to Scout Scar above Kendal and distant Kentmere with the HIgh Street range we have to tackle. Eventually, we dropped down to Levens Hall, its topiary hedges hidden behind high walls. I was looking forward to the walk alongside the River Kent in Levens Park as I have passed it so many times without venturing away from the car. It didn’t disappoint. It was a delight. Competing with Dallam Park the path climbed above the winding river through mature trees, Bagot Goats walked past us and Black Fallow Deer sprinted by.

Don’t get in my way.

 

Leaving the park we had a short stretch on the line of the Lancaster Canal with its incongruous field bridges. We left the canal at the aqueduct and skew bridge in Sedgwick visited on another occasion.

Today we walked down past Sedgwick Hall, the previous home of the Wakefield family, of gunpowder fame, to rejoin the River Kent.

A Wainwright. 1975.

A lane brought us onto its banks at a suspension bridge. The original bridge here was built in 1858 to take workers across the river to the gunpowder works on the west bank [now a caravan site] it was washed away and replaced by the current bridge,1875.

The river could be heard roaring ahead and soon we were above a gorge with great views down to the rushing waters.  The river then had a short peaceful passage before rushing once again under Hawes Bridge, all very exciting and a fitting end to today’s walk.

 

 

 

A Wainwright. 1975          

For videos of the river in spate have a look at Sir Hugh’s http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/2019/10/wainwrights-way-holme-to-crowpark-bridge.html

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 5. HORNBY TO HOLME.

The good weather had to end – it had been raining all night and I was half expecting a ring from Sir Hugh to call off today’s walk. No, not really, he is far more resolute than that. And anyhow it would be drier by late morning, I do miss Dianne Oxberry giving us the NW forecast but there are some interesting successors.

The River Wenning in Hornby was probably running a good two feet higher than when I finished my last walk.

Hornby was short-lived and we were on a lane passing the motte and bailey of  Castle Stede, C10th, somewhat obscured by trees and rain. Down below was our first view of the River Lune which we crossed on the graceful Loyn Bridge. Wainwright sketched thsese in his Lune edition. It was here we left Bowland which has provided some excellent walking in a thankfully relatively unknown backwater.

A Wainwright. 1980.

We splashed our way through soggy fields, struggled over slippy awkward stiles, jumped or waded through little temporary rivers; all the time the rain came steadily down. Everywhere was drowning.  After the Gothic style Storrs Hall a tarmacked lane gave some respite although it was more like a river in parts [damp heading photo]. It climbed over pleasant hills but the views were minimal, vaguely ahead was Hutton Roof an area of limestone outcrops which we regularly climbed on. My camera was safely stashed most of the time.

Unhelpful.

Storrs Hall.

I’d never heard of the River Keer before although I must have crossed it many times by road, rail and canal as it winds its short way onwards through Carnforth to Morecambe Bay. Today it was a raging stream barring our progress but hidden in the trees was a small bridge. Unfortunately, a sign stated it was closed as it had been partially washed away in floods, we had no option but to trust it as we couldn’t have waded the fast-flowing water.  I sent Sir Hugh across first.

Pleased with ourselves for overcoming that problem we were nearly run down by a train whilst crossing the Morecambe to Leeds line.

Oh! and it was still raining into the early afternoon. More importantly, we had just left Lancashire and entered Cumbria, formerly Westmorland. Westmorland was a county of the Lake District until in 1974 it along with Cumberland and bits of Lancashire became Cumbria. Wainwright must have had a soft spot for Westmorland because he brought out an academic book on its history and villages – Westmorland Heritage, 1975, now out of print and expensive second hand.

More ups and downs followed on paths that receive very little usage. Eventually, there was a glimmer of blue sky as we reached a better path on a ridge, it was nearly two before we found somewhere dry to sit and eat a spot of lunch.  Here our topic of conversation turned from Brexit to Sir Hugh’s flask which he was convinced was not his, maybe the top was but certainly not the body. It seemed to pray on his mind as he was still debating it as we started on our way.

My camera had not been used much in the wet weather but now as things cleared we had views of Morecambe Bay, Arnside Knott and the southern Lakes. When I use the term ‘Lakes’ I am really referring to the Lake District and particularly its hills, odd that we use such a  contraction.

The distant ‘Lakes’.

Arriving at a familiar road leading out of Burton up to Hutton Roof, we are less than a mile from the former but WW climbed a wall and took us on a circular tour of the land around Dalton Hall [which we never glimpsed]. There didn’t seem to any logic for this but I suspect Nick Burton is taking us on a voyage of discovery based on AW’s Westmorland book. No complaints, except the extra mile, as the estate was quintessential English parkland of a certain era. A wonderful selection of trees planted way back when.

Dalton Old Hall Farm.

A pair of ‘kissing trees’.

We eventually arrived in Burton-in-Kendal, to give it its full name. People drive, too quickly, through its narrow main street, I’ve probably been guilty of that, but on foot you realise the wealth of architectural buildings in the village. At one time Burton was an important stopping off point on the Lancaster to Kendal carriageway. It became an important corn market in the C17-18 and its wealth is reflected in its houses. The canal and then the railway took all its trade to Kendal and it has not really improved since then. I was sorry to see the Royal Hotel, in the centre next to the market cross, looking closed and derelict, we used to drink a pint or two here after a climbing evening on Hutton Roof or Farlerton.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Our next objective was to join the Lancaster Canal for a mile or so into Holme. We followed a lane signed from when Burton had a station, the mainline trains just fly through now……as does the motorway with Farleton Crag above.

We took to the more sedate towpath of the Lancaster Canal for our final mile into Holme. I have walked this stretch before and the towpath was just as muddy. No boats use this northern section which has been cut off from the rest of the system by the motorway. Below us at one point is Holme Mill with its lake, at one time a flourishing C19 linen mill with flax grown locally. On the other side of the canal are some well-preserved coke ovens.

At bridge 149 we climbed out into Holme which we will have more time to explore on our next stage of WW. Apart from some dampness of my socks I had coped with the day’s rain and floods which had given us an extra perspective to a simple walk.

*****

 

THE WAY OF THE CROW. Sixth day, The Lune to Carnforth.

                                                       We’ve had a lot of rain.

It was going to be difficult today to stay within the kilometre of our self-imposed straight line from my house in Longridge to Sir Hugh’s in Arnside. To get this far, as the crow flies, we had employed dubious means and been lucky with the positioning of important bridges. Another footpathless zone faced us this morning. Simple, said Sir Hugh just ask the farmer if we can tramp across his fields and walls, I wasn’t convinced.  In the mist we ghosted through the farmyard, not a dog barked or a cow stirred but there ahead was our adversary.  A burly farmer, I pushed Sir High forward with his simple proposition. Please sir… ” Yes just go down that field , through a gate and onwards.  But why didn’t you just follow the road?”  Our explanation seem to baffle him, as I thought it would. Rejoicing we ploughed on, the magic straight line was becoming our mantra.

Onwards.

The day had started back at Halton station, a few dog walkers were gathering. The bridge across the Lune was strange, it looked like a railway bridge but carried a single lane highway. The history here explains all…

 

Safely across we wandered through Halton, a mixture of old and new housing. As soon as we could field paths were followed on surprisingly undulating terrain, Both of us, recovering from chesty coughs, wheezed up hill. The forecast was wrong and we found ourselves in that miserable and annoyingly wetting mizzle. Before long the track to Stub Hall Farm was reached and our fate for the day in the farmer’s hands. A big thank you.

Once on the public footpath we relaxed into Nether Kellet and were soon going out on the wrong lane, a short cut was spotted across the recreational ground. Here was a war memorial to the Second World War from some distant benefactor.

Our next barrier, the M6, was easily crossed and some interesting paths taken through fields, woods and quarries.

Sacrilege to affix onto ancient stones.

We were intrigued by this standing water pipe curiosity.

The Lancaster Canal was reached and the adjacent A6 highway, a convenient seat for lunch next to a bus stop had locals peering at us through the condensed bus windows. I felt quite tramp like under their gaze. Although this was officially Carnforth we walked out through Crag Bank which seemed to have lots of old stone cottages, origins unknown. We were now in the drained marshlands of Morecambe Bay, today a little eerie with the mist.  Getting off the road proved difficult, a gate fell apart in my hands and we encountered impenetrable stiles in the march. Nobody uses the paths past Galley Hall. Another fortuitous bridge took us across the muddy River Keer and we were in the outskirts of Warton, the gloom preventing any views of the limestone crags above us. Hopefully the weather will be better for our last stretch into Arnside.

 

*****

MY ANNUAL SERVICE AND MOT.

“Your car will be ready about 4pm, we’ll phone you”

I’m in one of the outlets on the vast ‘motor village’ out by the docks in Preston where one can buy just about any make of vehicle. It was just after 9am in the garage reception area, more like a lawyers office than a garage but the mechanics must be hiding somewhere. Last year I took the opportunity to cycle round the Preston Guild Wheel but I’m limited to easy walking at the moment. The day was perfect, blue skies and winter sun.  I had to make the most of it so I planned on walking a 7 mile stretch of the Guild Wheel, its NW segment. But first a free coffee and a read of the paper – I had a lot of time to fill.

I knew from past experience that I wouldn’t enjoy the first noisy mile alongside the main road but as soon as this was crossed and left behind peace and tranquility returned. One’s mind becomes clearer and the rural calm helps with those nagging problems. The sun always helps.

I found myself on the Ribble Link which gives access at long last from the Lancaster Canal to the rest of the network once across The River Ribble. On a whim I decided to follow it towards the river but after a short distance and a couple of locks the the ‘path’ was too boggy for my trainers. As it is a new structure, 2002, there was no need for a traditional towpath. This link is basically Savick Brook which has been widened and equipped with locks to make it navigable. At a nearby bridge I watched some regular dredging going on and was able to chat about the Link with the Canal Trust workers. I have never seen a boat on this length before and wondered about its usefulness but they assured me 300 boats passed through last year.

Through the UCLAN sports grounds and  alongside housing at Cottam on maturing paths, dog walkers, pram-pushers, runners and cyclists all sharing and happy in the sunshine.

Soon one wanders into new developments appearing everywhere in north Preston like the pox. Their names are fanciful. They never come up with Muddy Meadows, Crowded Copse, Restricted View, Non-environmental Nook, Flooding Fields, Ruined Manor…

Broughton village however has recovered its relative tranquility since the long awaited by-pass has opened. The road is barely recognisable. Where’s the traffic queue? Probably somewhere else but they deserve a bit of peace for awhile.In a slower mode I noticed for the first time a stone ‘pinfold’ [where stray animals were held until collected] by the path and also a war memorial.

I walked on crossing the new road, named in honour of a local man awarded the Victoria Cross in the WW1. I was eager to see what has become of the cycle route along Durton Lane since the road works, again it is a changed world. There is no longer any through traffic but engulfing housing will eventually destroy its character.

A couple of snippets from this area …

The sign says No fly tipping.

Wouldn’t like to learn to swim here,

I let my phone guide me through the residential streets near the hospital and then on familiar ground down Plungington Road to enjoy a late lunch in my favourite south Indian cafe, RK Sweets. Vegetable thali for £5.

Rather than catch a bus just yet I wanted to put more miles into the lovely day so on I walked through the University area and past the international cafes of Friargate. What an opportunity to look at the newly refurbished market hall which though not yet fully running could give some life back into Preston city centre. I don’t come into town very often and I ended up in Wilkinson’s Camera shop spending money on an impulsive purchase of a replacement compact. Nearby was the bus station which is also being refurbished as part of Preston’s improvements.  The crowded bus dropped me a mile short of the garage so in the end I’d walked about 13 miles by the allotted 4pm

“Everything is OK and you’ve passed the MOT”     So all’s well.

 

LANCASTER CANAL 8. Sedgwick to Kendal.

For our last day the sky was blue, the ground hard with frost and the surroundings covered in snow – magic. Of course this was all planned.

We were soon back up to the line of the canal and making good progress through the fields on the edge of Sedgwick which seemed to have some pleasant housing tucked away from modern hectic life. The village first enlarged due to the nearby gunpowder works on the River Kent, subsequently residential properties have been built in what was probably the estate of Sedgwick Hall mentioned in my last post. The canal crosses a road on a skewed aqueduct in the middle of the village, these were built for strength.

Lovely countryside was traversed with drumlins to our right, isolated bridges and then woodland giving variety.

Looking to the east above St. Marks Church in Natland was an attractive Fell I didn’t recognise, looking on the map it is named The Helm and has an Iron Age Fort [Castlesteads] at its southern end. Yet another place to explore on a return visit.

Onwards under more isolated bridges with the lower Kentmere fells  in the background. This area is well walked being just a stroll out of town.One can see why Kendal is a popular place to live – a lively historic town in beautiful surroundings.

And then we were into the streets and parks of Kendal, the line of the canal still walk-able with frequent signs. A walking cycling corridor out of town. Passing behind the leisure centre the site of old coal wharves has been utilised by local schools to provide environmental studies. 

 

One renovated bridge had iron work alluding to the history of rope-making  hereabouts.

A crossover bridge is encountered and duly crossed, there have only been three on the whole of the canal. Obvious old mills are passed, the castle is up to the right somewhere. More filled in wharves at Lound, with informative interpretation boards,  and then the main terminal basin is reached, now only identified by warehouses. These are now used for other purposes though some have links back to the past. A small building is signed as being the original ticket office for the packet passenger boats. In the last warehouse, now modernised, is the head quarters of Gilkes manufacturing turbines on this site since 1856. Apparently inside are some original features of the basin.One can only imagine the industry and flow of goods right in the centre of Kendal in the 19th century. A return visit is needed to explore this industrial heritage further.

Below is an old aerial shot of the terminal basin [Stricklandgate House Trust]

 

Our way across Gooseholme Bridge was closed due to flood damage, so we braved the traffic on a road bridge to reach Baba Ganoush for a welcome bowl of delicious soup. This was followed by the three of us ‘running’ to catch the 555 bus, thanks to the driver for waiting for us.

So my journey up the canal from Preston is completed. It has been a very pleasant stroll helping my hip ligament rehabilitation but more than that has been full of interest and kindled my desire to explore this area further.