This walk explores another part of the former boundary between Westmorland and Lancashire before Cumbria was formed 40 years ago. It’s a low level walk going through woodland and over a marshy area with a prospect of seeing rare butterflies. Start at the crossroads (with a mini-roundabout) in Lindale (grid reference SD 418 803).


Distance: 7 miles, total ascent, 300 feet

Time: 4 hours

Terrain: mainly flat countryside, very muddy in parts.

Map: OS Explorer OL7


1 Walk to the right of the Lindale Inn along Back o’ the Fell Road which goes northwards to Cartmel Fell (not to Cartmel) for about half a mile passing under the huge flyover of the A590. Turn right along the lane soon after the overhead power lines and go straight on along the footpath (signed A590) at the edge of Nab wood. The path zig-zags along the line of the power lines and goes past a pond on your right.

2 Just before reaching the A590, turn left onto a bridleway following a hedge on your left and crossing three fields. A house with white window frames (Nicholas Wood Farm) comes into view and the route turns right around the edge of the field to cross the River Winster via a wooden footbridge. The river was a county boundary before 1974 so then you would be crossing from Lancashire into Westmorland. The track goes left along the side of the river and beside Nicholas Wood to the farm.

3 Keep on the track past the farm and through the wood. At the edge of the wood keep straight on where a track joins from the right. The track becomes a smooth tarmacked road going along a wide, peaceful valley with attractive rocky outcrops. Go straight ahead at the junction with another lane coming from the left and go to the edge of a wooded hillside. Pause at the bench here and enjoy the tranquil scene.

4 Turn right along the edge of the wood and after 100 yards turn left onto the footpath ascending through the woods of Halecat. This short stretch of 200 yards is the only significant hill to climb during the whole walk. Where it levels off, turn right. Earlier this year, large swathes of the woodland were cleared of bramble and some trees to help to increase the area of limestone grassland to benefit important butterfly and wildflower species. Halecat is part of Witherslack, a name derived from old Norsk meaning ‘wooded valley.’ At the edge of the wood there is a ruined stone building. Before leaving the woods by the footpath ahead, have a look down the slope on the right. Here you will discover a cave, or rather a tunnel that you can walk through if you bend down low enough. This is Holy Well, also known as Fairy Cave. Holy wells and springs were often renowned for their restorative, magical or healing properties.

5 Go back to the footpath across a field and along a track by the side of a workshop to the edge of the A591. Turn right onto the signed footpath that goes the side of the dual carriageway. After a quarter of a mile you cross this busy road – take great care. The path goes away from the road then turns right parallel with it. Keep to the right side of a ditch, which you cross via a wooden footbridge, then go diagonally over the marshy area to a gate. You are now on the edge of Meathop Moss, where sphagnum, sundew and other unusual plants create a colourful carpet. It is rich in invertebrate life where myriads of butterflies, moths, dragonflies and damselflies might be seen. Meathop Moss and the adjacent Foulney Moss were formerly shingle beaches which turned into raised bog. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) owned by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust and is being restored to a natural domed bog.

6 Go along the side of the field (it can be muddy!) to Kate Farm and turn right onto the road. Continue along this road, which is a national cycleway, for three quarters of a mile then turn right through Low Meathop Farm and follow this track, crossing the River Winster (and back to what was Lancashire) just before Lindale. When you reach the road turn left to the village.

Before leaving Lindale, look at the Wilkinson Monument on the left of the main road. John Wilkinson was an ironmaster who lived at nearby Castle Head, a mansion once housing St Mary’s college. In the 1700s he and his father Isaac, began an iron industry in the village. John built the famous iron bridge over the river Severn in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire.

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.