This is a quiet walk with good views all the way of the delightful rolling countryside to the west of the A6 just outside Kendal. It passes three old mills reminding one of how much use was made of the River Sprint’s exuberance.
Park in the layby (part of the old road) at Otter Bank, grid ref 532974. This lies on the west side of the A6, just north of Kendal.
1 Keep on the same side of the layby and walk on, north, for a few steps on the grassy verge, then cross with care to turn left into the signposted lane to Garth Row. A short way down, at the bend, take a signposted track on the left. Walk ahead through a little valley. When you can spot a barn ahead, turn left before a fence to reach a stile in the corner of a hedge (very easy to miss). Beyond take the sunken grassy trod, hedge to the right, which leads up to a gate onto the A6. Walk right past a garage and the old Stocks Mill and turn right along a track immediately beyond.
2 Descend the pleasing way to wind left. Remain on the main track as it begins to climb gently, right, with lovely views ahead. Stop where the track winds sharply left, down to Bowbank. Here leave the wide way and continue over grass to a wooden gate. Beyond stroll the delightful grassy way, under trees with fenced conifer woodland to your right. At the end of the wood, and before the wall ahead, wind left across the pasture to pass Coppice farm.
3 Beyond walk on to a T-junction of tracks, Garth Row Lane on the map. Turn left and a short way along take the signposted way. A few steps along, look for a waymarked little metal gate which gives access through the hedge into the field on the left. Follow the path beyond, which takes you near to the River Sprint. Climb the stile at the end of the path, wind left to take a footbridge over an old leat that once controlled the water supply to the next mill. Turn left to walk beside the river on your right.
4 As you go look left ahead to see Oak Bank Mill and watch out for the signposted gate that leads to a fenced path above the river. This brings you eventually to a padlocked bridge under which pass great pipes carrying water from afar. There is no access here but just beyond climb the throughs, which are quite difficult to spot in the shade of trees. Then take a little path that drops quite steeply, right, to a more solid path soon winding right to a gate. Beyond walk ahead, still with the Sprint to the right to climb steps on to Sprint Bridge. Cross with great care and turn into the signposted fine track on the right. This takes you towards Sprint Mill. Keep ahead, go through a gate with a very heavy ‘clasp.’ In a couple of steps, bear left to follow a good track through woodland high above the river.
5 When you reach the old leat climb a path that leads up to a stile and then continue ahead through an open gate. Carry on with a wall to your right to go through a gate/stile, and head across the pasture to a stone step stile. Beyond stroll across the next pasture to join a lane by a gate. Turn right to descend to cross Gurnal Bridge then leave the lane and follow the signposted track ahead as it climbs gently through woodland. Once out of the track keep ahead at the waymark to descend a little to a rather unstable step stone in the wall.
6 Here cut across the pasture to take a gate and then go uphill to another to reach Garth Row Lane and turn left. (This deviates from the map because we could not find a way through the hedge/fence onto the lane lower down.) Walk up the pleasing lane and wind around with it, right, as it passes scattered houses. Carry round the bend and stride up a little way to join the A6, which you cross to return to the parking area.
Distance: 4.5 miles
Time: 3 hours
Terrain: Lots of good paths and tracks. Some may be muddy if the snow/ice/frost has thawed.
Map: OS Explorer OL 7, essential – mark the route up on your map before you set off.
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.