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A walk from Hawkshead
I have taken the route below from a delightful pamphlet, one of three, produced by the Dry Stone Walling Association, Cumbria Branch. Parts of the route will be known by many walkers; all of it is charming but muddy in parts so be prepared. The leaflets are on sale in most bookshops and are priced very reasonably. They contain the route and also a wealth of detail, illustrated as well, of the wonderful stone work to be enjoyed in this part of the county. I have not added a lot of the detail they give in my walk because the leaflets tell it all. All the examples of the stone work are a joy to look at and finding them is fun.
Park in Hawkshead’s main car park GR353981(£5 for 4 hours).
1 From the car park below the church turn left, and then right, to walk Hawkshead’s Main Street. If you are enticed by the village’s charm to drift off left, eventually return to Main Street to continue. Just before the Red Lion inn, turn right to linger through the delightful Red Lion Yard. At its end, cross with great care to take the access lane opposite. Very soon follow the lane as it bears right and continue to cross the bridge over Black Beck. Go left, beside the hurrying water on a good reinforced path and then right across a field to pass through a kissing gate. Cross the next pasture, which is generally boggy and sometimes very boggy, picking the best way to reach a signposted gate onto Scar House Lane, a track, where you turn right.
2 At its end, wind left to pass between some dwellings. Look in the wall of the first on the right to see the huge piece of slate that probably walled up an old entrance. Wind around right for a few steps to cross a small stream and then move right for a step to look over the wall to see three stone steps down to the stream. Continue left and climb between houses. Ignore a turn on the right and continue up the hill, winding a little left. Just past the barn on your right, stop and look back to see the pigeon roosts high on the barn wall. Beyond, turn left into a lane and walk the quiet way past two dwellings. Stroll on up the lane that soon becomes a footpath through delightful woodland. Sit on one of the moss-covered trunks of the fallen trees for your first break.
3 Continue ahead and then into pastures, keeping straight ahead until you reach Loanthwaite Lane. Walk left to pass between the farmhouse and its interesting barns and go through the signed gate on the right just beyond. After a few steps, take the signed stile, on the left, into a pasture, towards Outgate. Stroll on through more pleasing woodland, very muddy at the time of writing. Leave the trees by a stile and walk half right towards the waymark and continue to kissing gates leading to a track beside the Outgate Inn. At the main road, cross and take a kissing gate on to a permissive path, leading left, towards Hawkshead.
4 This narrow way is deep in leaves and needs care. It leads to a layby and then continues on pleasingly until it rejoins the road at a junction. Turn right here and stroll the hedged way, signed Knipe Fold. Ignore two right turns very close to each other and climb the lane to a signed track, just beyond a cottage, Ben Fold, on the left. With the next house to your right, take the kissing gate on the left of the track and walk ahead over a delightful pasture, with superb views all around. Pass through a gate and continue down the field to an idyllic corner where you cross a large slab of slate over the pretty beck. Then wind right and continue on and up to a gate on to Skinner How Lane. Walk left to the main road.
5 Descend left and wind around, with care, in front of the old mill, with an interesting millstone at its door. Walk on and then pause to look left to see the fascinating old gatehouse to Hawkshead Hall. Turn right and a short way along take the right turn signed Keen Ground. The narrow lane climbs gently to a ‘private’ sign. Here go through the gate on the left and continue ascending in line with the track. Then curve a little left to a gate. Beyond, wind left over the glorious turf to a stile in a fence and walk on to join a track. Bear left and then immediately right to walk a delightful lane. Go through a gate and take the path leading to the church, lined with an excellent display of Brathay Flags. Descend past the fine church and then the Grammar School. Cross the road to continue to the car park.
Distance: 4.5 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Terrain: Some good paths and tracks but even some of these have huge puddles after this winter’s rain. Quiet lanes. Superb views. Almost level walk.
Map: OS Explorer OL 7
NB: Restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.