There are so many good walks that start from the pleasing village of Staveley. This one takes you up through the magnificent deciduous woodland of Craggy Plantation. It continues over the fine grassy ridge above and then on until you can start your descent through Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s three splendid small woods, known as Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood. Bluebells are abundant in the spring and at this time of year the nature reserve is rich in mosses.
Park in Mill Yard, Staveley, grid ref 471983. If approaching from Kendal, leave the bypass and drive through the village to turn sharp right beyond the Spar shop. If using the TransPennine line, turn left after descending the steps and walk into the village. Then right along the main street to St Margaret’s Tower.
1 Return to the main road and turn left. A short way along you reach the Tower, once a 4th century chapel, built by William de Thweng who obtained a market charter for Staveley. Just before it, turn left and walk beside the cemetery and then continue along a walled track to reach the high-level footbridge over the surging River Kent. Beyond, go right along the riverside and then follow the track, left, to pass through an ancient iron kissing gate on the left side of a collection of buildings. Cross a track and go ahead through a signed gate to walk up a path beside a grassy hillock, topped with a seat. Carry on to go through a kissing gate onto a minor road.
2 Stroll right along the quiet hedged way to take an even narrower lane going off left. Carry on until you can enter Craggy Plantation by a gate on your left, with a board welcoming walkers into the wood. It certainly is craggy but has no sense of a plantation about it – it is a vast wonderland of fine deciduous trees. Follow the path leading off right, climbing steadily uphill, much of which has been stepped. As you go look up to see several of the huge crags that give the wood its name. The path then begins to wind left and comes close to another seat close to the top boundary. From here you can look up into Kentmere, snow-covered at the time of writing. Carry on where the path becomes a little indistinct and passes below and then above various crags. Keep ahead at this point and look for the narrow wooden edging on the left side of the path to keep you on your way. Pass under a huge tree obviously used as a meeting place for adventurous youngsters.
3 The path brings you to a step stile by which you emerge from the woodland. Turn right and go through a farm gate and continue parallel with the wall on your left as you climb the pleasing pasture. Go through the next two pastures by ladderstiles. Then begin a steady descent to the next ladderstile and on towards Littlewood farm, keeping by the boundary on your right as asked. Just before the farm and its beautiful holly tree, go through the waymarked gate on your right. Take the next gate just along on your right and stroll the fine pastures with high slopes away to your left. Carry on to join a farm track and walk left to the fell road and a signpost.
4 Turn right and stroll the glorious winding way over the peaceful slopes until you can pass through a gate across the road. Beyond, turn left immediately to walk a walled bridleway, rather muddy after all the wet weather. Follow it until you reach a tall, solid wooden gate, on the right, that gives entrance to a planting of young ash. A narrow path, excellently arrowed, leads you through the trees of High Wood gently descending until you reach a wall gap through which you pass. Beyond, a winding path, arrowed on the trees, drops down through mature woodland of Grubbing Spring. At the foot of the path, turn left and continue parallel with a tumbling beck. The path eventually brings you to another tall wooden gate, the entrance to Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood.
5 Beyond, follow the path for a few steps and leave it, right, to come close to the beck rushing through its deep narrow gill. Go on down the stepped way, past a plummeting waterfall and on down until you can cross the beck by a plank footbridge. Go through the gate. And press on along a track (muddy) at the side of a pasture, which winds right, away from Beddard Wood, and comes to a step stile and a gate to a narrow road. Walk right soon to pass the turn to Craggy Wood taken earlier and then, a short way along, take the kissing gate beside the farm gate on the left. Descend the path and walk ahead to go through the ancient iron kissing gate. At the riverside, turn right to cross the footbridge and then stride the walled way. Turn right to walk the little high street to return to Mill Yard, or go on to turn left for the station.
Information Map: OS Explorer OL 7 Distance: 4 miles Time: 2-3 hours Terrain: long steady climb through Craggy Plantation and then on up the ridge. Pleasing path across pastures and fairly easy descent through the reserve. At the present time all the woodland paths are covered with fallen leaves, so go carefully to avoid slipping.
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.