A River Bank Ramble.

Start. Oxenholme.

Route. Oxenholme - Natland - Hawes Lane - Hawes Bridge - Low Park - Nannypie Lane - Force Bridge - Kendal/Lancaster Canal - Sedgwick - Larkrigg Spring Wood - Larkrigg Hall Bridge - Sedgwick Road - Barrows Green - The Helm - Oxenholme.

Notes. More of the wet stuff fell yesterday, more floods, more staring out the window at grey emulsion and driving rain, today an unnerving orange glow greeted me, a strange ball of light announced the arrival of better weather, the boffin's at the Met Office predicted it would only last a day, music to my ears. With most roads leading out of town under water in places the problem was where to go? a walk from home. Follow the swollen waters of the River Kent down stream, there's a spectacular foot-path running along the retaining wall of what was once the head race of the New Sedgwick Gunpowder Works, that would be part of my route, a thrilling stretch of path, almost a ridge walk with the river on one side and the head race the other.

My day started wandering over muddy field paths to access Natland, I passed the village green and post office to joine Hawes Lane, a barrier barred traffic from this narrow ribbon of tarmac, a sign read “closed due to storm damage”, as I didn't consider myself traffic I followed said lane to Hawes Bridge. Part of the bridge parapet had collapsed, I crossed to join the west bank of the River Kent. I was about to step onto private land, I've been wandering this path since my teenage years but have yet to been challenged, many walkers come this way. With muddy paths under foot I squelched my way through Hawes Wood before a stile allowed access to sheep pastures, after a short ramble through the field I descended through a gorse thicket to gain access to a gate, I passed through said gate to find my way bard, “unsafe due to storm damage” the notice informed me. Disappointed I headed to the right of the head race, I was soon wandering through the remains of the New Sedgwick Gunpowder Works, an interesting slice of industrial history.

It was while I was exploring I met a very wet rambler, soaked to the waist, boots full of water, I sarcastically enquired “if he'd been for a swim”, the answer was “yes”. It turned out the path to Levens Park was under five foot of water at one point, he'd under estimated it's depth, a cue to change my route.

The tarmac surface of Nannypie Lane then guided me to the foot-bridge allowing access to Wilson Place and the opposite bank of the river, that was closed due to storm damage also. On I wandered to Force Bridge, I crossed to be greeted by a finger-post inviting me to the canal, after crossing a stile field paths ushered me to the Kendal/Lancaster Canal, my guide back to Natland. With the tow path under foot I wandered north, over the impressive Sedgwick aqueduct I walked, through fields and woodland, on reaching Lankrigg Hall Bridge I changed my route. I let the access lane to the farm guide me to the Sedgwick Road where I turned right to find the road closed due to flood damage, it mattered not a jot my route followed the cycle way up a lane to the left then on to Barrows Green. The Punchbowl Inn greeted me, a splendid hostelry known to serve good food at a reasonable price, I had a swift half before crossing the main road to join another lane leading behind The Helm, said lane guided me to a bridleway.

As you know I'm proud to boast The Helm as being my back garden, I was about to ascend into some of the best views in South Cumbria. The south ridge guided me to the summit which just happens to bare the scars of an iron age fort, they always build iron age forts in good spots. I stood chatting to some dog walkers, soaked up the views, until I'd got sick of a bloody Schnauzer trying to eat the hem of my trousers, which the owner seemed to think was perfectly ok, I bid my farewells then headed north following the line of the ridge, on running out of ridge I descended to the Station Inn, turned left to let the road guide me back home.

view route map.


Prizet House and Helsington Barrows as seen from Hawes Lane.

The River Kent below Hawes Bridge.

This would normally be the start of a spectacular stretch of path, with the River in flood to one side and the head race on the other, a bit like a ridge walk, except if you fall off you'll drown.

The River Kent and the path I wish I was wandering.

Normally a trickle, this feeder stream runs into the head race, it's the one in the shot above.

The long head race, over 700 yards with a total drop of 20ft powered a 37ft water wheel generating 90hp.

Low Park Wood caravan site lies on the West banks of the River Kent, shrouded in trees and very private, a walk around the site reveals the remains of buildings, mill races, leats and curious earthworks, gunpowder production took place here from 1857 until 1935.

One of two wheel pits found on this site.

Swathed in ivy one of the supporting walls for the water wheel at Mill No3.

There used to be interpretation boards scattered around the site, they told the history of the site, also the resulting explosions and deaths that followed, alas they've been removed so I can't tell you what this feature was.

Time for another re-think, the foot-bridge at Wilson Place.

Flooded fields off Nannypie Lane.

The River Kent above Force Bridge.

The gothic pile of Sedgwick House with Kendal Fell rising above the roof tops.

Seen from Sedgwick Hall Bridge the White Scar face of Whitbarrow.

Reflections Lankrigg Hall Bridge.

Wonderful views from The Helm, Arnside Knott and the Kent Estuary.

The white washed buildings of Natland, the Kent valley and stretched across the skyline Scout Scar, another fine view from the summit of The Helm.

Again from the summit of The Helm, the prospect east, the Middleton Fells with the Barbon High Fells to the right.

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