Sat May 18th. 2019: Eskdale – Sally Varian
13 and 2 dogs set off from Dalegarth station on a perfect day for a walk. La’al Ratty, mining and quarrying, St.Catherine’s Church and a norse bloomery site excavated in the 1980’s by a team from Minnesota University were amongst the highlights. Ascent of the zig zag peat cutters track was the only controversial issue- Ken’s description of the walk as easy was questioned! However the view from the lunch spot at the peat hut made it worthwhile. Fabulous views of the fells and more than 2000 years of history from Hardknott Fort to the Bronze age circles and cairns above Boot round to Sellafield visible. Descent was via Stanley Ghyll which was still dramatic despite recent dry conditions. Refreshments at the station cafe completed the day.
Thursday 4th April 2019: Finsthwaite Ramble – Sue Lydon
A lovely fine but bitterly cold day, 6 of us were shown round Stott Park Bobbin Mill where children as young as 9 had toiled for 12 hours a day among belts, machines, dust and danger. It was an excellent tour. Then there was a kind of rush up to High Dam to have our lunch and a leisurely walk round the dam and back down to Finsthwaite where Sophia met us and took us to the church to show us several photos of folks from the village with their swill making etc. We finished up with a cuppa at Haverthwaite Railway Station.
Saturday 23 March 2019: Silverdale Circular – Dave Hughes
11 set off from Eaves Wood car park, day was bright and sunny First stop Arnside 15th century Piel Tower. Then the walk in to Silverdale and to the Cove. Then along the shore of Morecambe Bay walking along the coast via the Lots in to Silverdale and out along the road to Lindeth Tower to Lime kiln. Back to the coast via Jack Scouts , Rounding Jenny Browns point and the copper smelting tower. The walk went in land to Quaker’s Stang path. Back in to Silverdale via Scout Wood, The Row and return to the cars. 6. 5 mile long.
21st February 2019: Torver Low Common – Mervyn Cooper
The walk was over Torver Common. Site visits included a 17th century Bloomery on Throng Moss, a prehistoric cairnfield, the Baptist Chapel and baptismal pool at Sunny Bank (dating from 1678 and regarded to be the oldest in the country), a Bronze Age Burnt Mound and ,finally, Emlin Mill. Originally a 13th century corn mill and later a fulling mill for the cleaning of woven woollen cloth (tales of ‘being on tenterhooks’ and of local villagers supplying urine at 1d a pail..!!).
7th February 2019: Secret Barrow – Stephe Cove & Dave Hughes
An interesting day out with a visit to the Town Hall and the cemetery. A group of sixteen were met by Dave, the Chief Steward and given a potted history of the building and its current use. Then, up the Grand Stairs where we visited the Council Chamber, the Ballroom and the Mayor’s Parlour. I was impressed how approachable Bill McEwan, the Mayor, was and how he chatted with everyone and shared his robes, chain and mace with the visitors. Here he is seen from the gallery in the Council Chamber and with the group in the parlour.
After lunching at the Forum it was off to the Crem and the cemetery. We were following The stories behind the stones researched and documented by Rod White. Follow the link to make your plans for visiting. There were graves for town worthies, sportsmen, entertainers, servicemen from here and across the commonwealth as well as from Russia and China, and workers killed in industrial accidents. There was a Barrow holder of the VC from the Zulu wars and an unusual war grave with a serviceman and his newly married wife who killed by a flying bomb on their honeymoon. I was particularly taken by the lighthouse memorial for the last survivor of the Forfashire, wrecked off the Farne Islands when Grace Darling and her father made their famous rescue.
The weather was fine but cold and the bottom sections of the walk were not as wet as when Dave and I made our preliminary explorations.
17th November 2018: Ulverston’s Industrial History – Rob McKeever
A glorious day with clear blue skies helping ensure another excellent turnout, attracting 24 participants to Rob’s walk.
We met at Canal Foot, where Rob related the history of the Canal stating that although it brought increasing commerce to the town, the Canal itself failed to generate much income with the Canal Company being unable to pay a divided for over 40 years. The Canal has the reputation of being the shortest, deepest and widest canal in the country but with shifting channels and the advent of the railway, it had a very short operational life. From the Canal we moved east to have the remains of a lime kiln pointed out. From there it was inland towards Plumpton to see the massive limestone quarries and a deep iron ore mine, with visible remains of the accompanying railway lines.
The Canal footpath was joined and it was a pleasant stroll passing the swing bridge and its pumping tower, one of only two in the Country, and a return to Canal Foot for lunch.
Thereafter it was a short drive to Sandhall. where, after crossing Carter Pool, the site of the last ship to be built in Ulverston, the vast slag heaps of the iron works that once stood on the now Glaxo site came into view. Evidence of the former railway branch line to Bardsea could still be seen. We continued on, making our way to where once stood a wire factory, the only visible remains being the magnificent chimney left standing to direct pilots entering the channel to Ulverston and beyond. A few hundred yards to the north, were the Dubs; now private fishing ponds, from where clay was extracted to supply the adjacent brickworks, no signs of which now survive. It was then but a short walk across fields back to our cars.
Throughout the walk, Rob was able to give detailed descriptions of the long lost, and not so long lost, industries of South Ulverston. A most enjoyable day.
8th November 2018: Burial Cist Cairns of the Dunnerdale Fells – Gail Batten
We met at Kiln Bank Cross, firstly looking at two sites just off the road one a ring cairn the other we could not decide what it was. As there were Home Guard exercises in the area during WW11 the site may have been linked to this.
Heading off to the Parkhead Road, which is an ancient road, we looked at another ring cairn before setting off in the direction of Seathwaite, before turning off towards Longmire Beck, here at the col the area is littered with stone piles and ring cairns thought to be in excess of 100, we then took the track under Caw to look at a Cist cairn which still has some of the stone lining in. Here where we stopped for coffee.
Retracing our steps to the main track we could see the large bolder on the skyline which marks the next cist cairn this one is an excellent example of a cist cairn.
On to our third and best example, getting a little confused on the way, however once found everyone agreed it was a stunning example.
We then headed to Stainton Ground Quarry for lunch, as soon as we stopped it started to rain, after lunch we headed back to the cars and decided it was home time.
27th October 2018 – Heysham Head – Lindsay Harrison
The Spirit of Heysham sculpture by Michael Edwards on the wall of Heysham’s Jubilee Institute depicts many of the historical buildings and artifacts to be seen in this ancient space and led us to the small but interesting Heritage Centre where 17 members of the History Group learnt about the area and indulged in a small bit of retail therapy before moving onto one of those buildings on the sculpture, St Peter’s Church, a sturdy squat building whose churchyard slopes down to the sea and the buildings rear windows look out over the expanse of Morecambe Bay. The core of the church is Anglo Saxon (mid 8th Century or before) and the door with a wooden bar and niches speaks across the centuries of times when refuge was taken from those with ill intent coming from the sea or land. Over the centuries the interior has been expanded from its Anglo-Saxon origin and altered with each era, Norman to Victorian. One of the church’s great treasures is the Hogback Stone, a Viking grave cover, and the story it contains of the Legends of Sigmund and Sigurd the Dragon Slayer are told and can be seen here . Our church guide Richard Martin had a wealth of knowledge of the church and its history and has a handy guide available in the church for self tours. After lunch in the church we explored the churchyard to see an 11th century Christian Viking grave marker and a later one depicting a harp in addition to a cross and sword. Near the churchyard entrance is the base of a 9th century cross shaft. Gravestones from as early as the 17th century commemorate the antecedents of families still living in the village today.
A Saxon doorway leads to St Patrick’s Chapel, a place of retreat on top of the headland. It would have been a great place for contemplation with its views over Morecambe Bay and the hills of the Lake District. Another of Heysham’s treasures are the six rock-cut graves. Nobody knows their origin but they are certainly unique and could be tranquil places to end ones days under ever changing skies. Perhaps there were sky burials here although the less romantic archaeological explanation is that they were probably reliquaries for bones and other materials as they were not big enough for bodies but, as demonstrated below, they appear to be big enough for female bodies. The holes at the head were for crosses. An excavation on the land below the rock graves in 1993 revealed many artefacts from some 12,000 years ago and as the land was thought to be an important Mesolithic site it was back-filled to preserve it for future research.
We took our leave of the Anglo-Saxon chapel and returned to the churchyard to see another stone coffin which at one time contained the body of a past rector of the church (the crumbled remains of his chalice can be seen in the church) and then headed away to the nearby St Peter’s cafe, a converted stables, which was a nice warming retreat to take the chill off the biting wind of the day.
Many thanks to Lindsay for some fine research and for providing us with a grand day out.
11th October 2018 – The Hill to Millom Castle – Ken Lindley
Another good turnout today with 23 walkers and the car park at School Ellis full to overflowing. We walked down through the woods past the usual mysterious structures. Past the quarry and out through the woods on to the road at Lowscales.
We met up with our guide, Tom McCafferty, on the hill overlooking the castle and the old church where Cromwell’s army placed their cannons to blow the Royalist stronghold to bits as a reprisal after the battle at Lindal in 1643 where many of the Royalist men were drowned while crossing the Duddon sands as they tried to escape to Millom.
We lunched in the old Church, dating back to the C12th or even older, where Churchwarden Margaret Edmondson, dating back to the C20th, told us about the history and made us coffee and biscuits. Then we went next door to the castle.
The castle’s history stretches back to 1134 and was held by the Huddlestons until 1748 when it was sold to the Lowthers. The Great Tower (C16th) is obvious from the road but it is harder to see the remains of older buildings. Tom had permission from the Park family to take us through the ruins of the Great Hall, Kitchens and Gateway, an opportunity that doesn’t come up very often.
Secret views inside the old castle’s curtain wall
From there we crossed the fields and climbed up to Waterblean Farm. There we saw old limekilns and the quarries where the lime was extracted. More unusual was its history in the late C19th as a an iron ore mine and colour works. Robert Falconer, the present owner, showed us maps, samples and a copy of sales brochure when the works closed in 1899. The sale included the machinery for crushing the ore and milling powder for paint, blocks of smit for marking sheep and the pigment for colouring linoleum.
Our last walk back to the carpark was rather spoiled by heavy rain but we had had such splendid weather to that point that we could hardly complain.
29th September 2018 – An Ulpha Circuit – Ken Day
A record 25 people took part, numbers boosted by having the event publicised on Facebook.
The weather was bright and cool; ideal for a 5.5 mile walk in the Duddon Valley.
Meeting at the lay- byes at Ulpha Bridge, the start was a gentle climb on a tarmac track, and forest path, until the open fell was reached. The Quaker burial ground was the first point of call, The first burial was recorded as being in 1662 with last being in 1775. The burial ground had subsequently been used as an unsuccessful apple orchard and had then been planted with trees. All around are flag-stones let into the walls for seating.
On then to meet the Kiln Bank road where we pondered if ancient peoples from the higher up Bronze Age sites had once walked. Time then for a quick refreshment break before descending the beautifully constructed zig-zag path down to the Valley bottom and on to Hall Dunnerdale Bridge. There on the parapet was the engraved outline of a monster salmon caught in 1936.
Back along the road, over a dodgy stile into Low Wood and the steep unforgiving track to the lowest of the dressing platforms of Commonwood Slate Quarries. Time then for lunch and with energy levels back, it was up to the higher workings of the quarries where tales of the quarrymen were related. For a fearless few there was the chance to see the ‘big hole’ from where he slate was extracted. Still uphill on well defined paths, the summit was soon attained.
It was then just a meander down to where the ghostly but majestic remains of Grimecragg House were viewed. By now the line of walkers ha stretched to several hundred yards. Crossing open meadow, the track to Hazel Head farm was reached, passing Grimecragg Bridge on the way. Walking through the farm buildings, the tail enders were soon out of sight and it took some while for them to catch up. Then it was a stroll across a field, home to Herdwick rams, and on to the Birker Fell Road, before the descent, using the way marked path to Ulpha. Here many enjoyed the delights of Wendy’s Post Office store. Next stop was St John’s Church to inspect the headstone of Thomas Williams, a welsh slate worker and one-time lessee of the Quarries who had died 1880 after tripping and drowning in a quarry pool. Inside the Church, which dates to around 1570, the remains of classical murals could be seen, including one bearing the Arms of Queen Anne (1665-1714) who provided a benefice for the pay of a priest. All that then remained was the short walk back to the starting point.