This pleasing walk starts from the extensive red sandstone ruins of Furness Abbey in the charming Vale of Nightshade. Footpaths lead to Dalton-in-Furness. Here look for the castle, built in 1330-36, to provide refuge for the monks of the Abbey against Scottish raiders. Close by is the stunning red sandstone church of the St Mary. The walk then takes you over fine, quiet pastures to Newton village and on down to Bow Bridge, over Red Mill Beck, built in the 15th Century, which carried a packhorse route to the nearby Abbey.

Park in the large car park in front of the entrance building to Furness Abbey, grid ref 217719. Access this by taking the narrow, left turn, south-east, just beyond the turn opposite for Furness General Hospital and before the large Abbey Hotel.

1 Walk back a few steps along the narrow road to take a signposted, hedged footpath on the right, part of the Cistercian Way, through the Vale of Nightshade. Curve around with the path to pass under the railway bridge on a cobbled way. Continue on the hedged path, which brings you to the side of a busy road. Cross with great care and take the signposted leafy track opposite. Go past a white house and carry on to pass under another railway bridge. Almost immediately take steps down left. Walk ahead, beside the fence on the right to cross a wet area on a boardwalk. A short way beyond, cross Poaka Beck by a sturdy footbridge. Look right here to spot the spire of Dalton-in-Furness church through a gap in the woodland.

2 Turn right to walk a wide, fenced grassy way, keeping beside the beck on your right to reach a huge, heavy gate. Beyond, walk a muddy path through a copse to go through a kissing gate and then under another railway bridge, still on the unmarked Cistercian Way. Pass through an open gateway and walk on a grassy path. Eventually you reach the edge of Dalton-in-Furness and head on for a short way past a few houses to take a steep turn left up a leafy lane, towards St Mary’s Church, passing the Brown Cow on the left. Wind a little right to reach a gate into the churchyard, opposite a row of houses. The grounds of the church are full of flowers and there are several seats where you might wish to take your first pause. There are some very interesting gravestones along the wall, lower down the slope and a very sad small corner dedicated to 360 plague victims. Look for the low flat memorial stone to George Romney set alone in a grassy area. You might also find time to visit the lovely church.

3 Leave by the gate nearest to the castle. Walk on down the right side of the main street, crossing the road to Barrow with care (traffic from all directions). Carry on passing many shops to reach Tudor Square. Here remain on the right side of the road that leads to the roundabout on the by-pass. At end of the shops and a row of houses, look for a right turn just before the last house clearly signed Weigh House - name plate of the road on the ground. Walk along the surfaced way and wind right at the corner and go on to reach a footpath sign that directs you, left, under the railway once more; look for the bat box high up under the arched bridge. Beyond, a wide track winds around and climbs a slope, the way then goes on ahead along a hedged path. Where the path ends take the stile on your right into a pasture.

4 Climb gently beside the hedge on your left to reach a squeeze stile in the top left corner on to a narrow lane. Cross and, slightly right, take a stile into another large pasture. Go on, bearing steadily up, a quarter right, and then at the ridge look down to see a ‘tricky’ stone squeeze stile in the wall beyond, just to the right of a copse. It is waymarked and you pass through it and turn right. Keep along the fence on your right and when you reach evidence of grassy humps left over from mining days and a very green pool, stay well above it. Then follow the grassy way that winds right, towards the line of the fence. Just ahead you will see a muddy tractor-marked track under trees. Climb up to the right of this and walk the grassy way for a few steps and at a wall, step down the slope to climb a rickety stile.

5 Climb up a bank, left, and then walk, right along a large pasture to reach two metal gates. Just beyond the last building on the left, a waymarked stile gives access to another large pasture, sloping uphill to the left. Beyond, walk right along the hedge and then up beside it to pass through and easier squeeze stile. Keep on the same general direction, slanting up right, pass under the power lines, keeping to the right side of Highfield Farm. Wind around a little left, with the outbuildings to your left, to spot three stiles, on the right that take you across two small pastures and on to a lane. Descend right, until you can and take a wide track, on the left, just before Longland Cottages. If the bull is in the field beyond the double gates and the buildings, continue ahead up a wide track to join the road, just before the cottages and turn left. Half way along, it becomes a narrow grassy path, between hedges, and leads you on ahead to a busy road. Take care here as you step on to it. Cross and turn right, with care, to take a new stile. Walk to the opposite side of narrow pasture to climb a double stile. Keep across the next pasture to the right of a large ash tree in the hedge, and wind around the bend in the hedge to go through a large gap. Turn right and walk up the field to a fairly obvious signpost and climb a gap stile on to a road and walk left.

6 Ignore the short cut across the corner because it is totally overgrown at both ends and walk on. A short way on turn right and walk down the lane, which leads to the pretty village of Newton. But, and it is a big but, if the road is still closed because of subsidence due to mining activities, many years ago, you will need to make an interesting diversion. The road has been closed for many months and the authorities are still pondering on how they are going to repair it, when there are no maps of past activities available.

7 Turn right and walk ahead, past houses, and then farm buildings, to reach a signposted T-junction of tracks. Walk left up the waymarked track, past a house and large stables. Ignore a signposted path on the left and carry on the hedged track. Wind around a large bend and then, just before the next stable building on the left, walk left down a hedged track. Eventually this continues as a narrow path and then as a wider way to join the road just at the start of Newton village. Bear right, go past a fine pub and continue with the road as it veers right to join the busy road from Dalton.

8 Cross and go through a metal kissing gate and climb beside the hedge on the right to the kissing gate on the ridge. Here descend steadily, heading slightly right to a kissing gate in the bottom right corner, hidden by trees, on to a junction of roads and a small triangle of grass. Cross and turn left and walk the pathless road for 200yds, to a signpost directing you through a kissing gate and then ahead right along a little path to Bow Bridge over Mill Beck. Turn right on to the grass, just before the flat bridge, and look back. Have your camera ready to take shots of the lovely four arched bridge, built by the monks.

9 Carry on with the pretty beck to your left, ignore a plank bridge across the water and continue to the far left corner of the water meadow. Follow the path up the slope to a gate to the side of the railway line. Cross the rails with care, go through a similar gate and wind on with the track to join the narrow road to the Abbey car park. On the way you pass, on the left, a little turn left going back on itself to the Abbey Mill Café for a good cuppa. Wind on along the pavement for an extensive view of the Abbey as you continue to the car park.


Distance: 7 miles

Time: 4 hours

Terrain: Some good paths and tracks. Some road walking. A few old waymarks. In spite of this it is a very interesting walk with much to see along the way.

Map: OS Explorer OL6

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.