South Whitbarrow

A more challenging 4½ hour walk (10 miles) through the woods and round the southern end of Whitbarrow.

Includes a brief steep climb to the summit, Lord's Seat. This walk is best done on a clear day.

Park in the lay-by opposite the Lyth Valley Hotel on the A5074, 2 miles south-east of Crosthwaite (Grid Ref. 453896). Take signed footpath nearly opposite the hotel, uphill. Keep left at the fork. 50 yards after the path widens to a track look over the wall on the right for a recently reconstructed dew pond.

[Dew ponds are rare in this part of the world. They collect rainwater for the benefit of farm stock and wildlife.]

Continue to The Row - a hamlet noted for its damson orchards - the blossom is well worth seeing in the spring and fruit may be bought in September. At the tarmac road bear left. Near the end of the hamlet, take signed footpath right, between a group of houses. This continues as a grassy track between two gates, to a metal gate and stile, then turns sharp right giving good views of The Row. Where the path opens out into a field, bear left to a gateway in the top right hand corner, then bear left again to a stile in a fence and another in a wall, taking you into woodland. Follow this path, keeping straight on for about 3 minutes until it joins another coming from the right. Continue through the wood to a junction with a wider track marked by a post with three yellow arrows and one white. Continue across this track, following a path signed with a badger's pawmark, between two areas of Christmas tree plantations, into hazel woodland then through a small wooden gate which marks the beginning of a nature reserve managed by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

# Continue in the same direction for about ¼ mile, ignoring a path to the left and one to the right, then turn right at a yellow arrow where the main track bends to the left. Follow this path, which widens into a track, for about a mile. (If you find yourself climbing steadily, you have turned right too soon and are heading for the summit, see the walk to "Lord's Seat". If you find yourself dropping down into the valley you have missed the turning right.)

[Tracks of various animals may be seen in the mud if it has rained recently, and butterflies may frequent clearings in the woodland. Look also for signs of squirrels eating the larch cones - both red and grey squirrels can be seen in this area, though the greys are tending to take over.]

The path joins a wider forestry track from the left and passes a charcoal burning oven (but this could have been moved) before going through a gateway and reaching an open, recently (1998) coppiced area. Turn left here (the yellow arrow is not very obvious from this direction).

[Coppicing is a traditional way of managing woodland which was common in this area. The trees are cut about every 15 years in such a way that they sprout again from the base. The timber was used for a variety of products such as tool handles, bobbins for the cotton and woollen industries, fencing hurdles, and the production of charcoal With the increasing popularity of barbecues, charcoal is now in greater demand and coppicing has undergone a revival]

Follow the path downhill and over a stile, through Rawson's farmyard, bearing right along the track to the next farm, Raven's Lodge, and passing the cliff face of the scar on your right.

[Quarrying for limestone was carried on here until the 1960s.]

Continue on the track between the farm buildings at Raven's Lodge, then turn right at wooden bridleway sign. A long straight climb through mature beech and larch woodland leads to views of the Kent estuary. The path joins a track from Whitbarrow Lodge. Continue to bear right on the track enjoying views to Morecambe Bay as you round the end of Whitbarrow. Ignore the first footpath on the right and look for one signed to Beck Head.

[The track bears left down to Mill Side and you may wish to take this 10 minute diversion to see the millpond. The mill buildings have been converted into accommodation but the millstones can be seen, built into a wall.]

The footpath takes you through woodland to a stile. Follow the field wall on your left to a wooden gate and then between the wall and a glasshouse and on to a white gate and a drive emerging on a minor road. Take a 50 yard detour to the left to see Beck Head, where the stream emerges from the base of a low limestone cliff. Retrace your steps, then continue on the road which turns into a bridleway. Wild raspberries and blackberries may refresh you as you follow the blue arrows through a wooden gate.

Continue on this track, turn right where it meets a minor road with views of Witherslack Hall and the steep side of Whitbarrow (yes, you will be climbing back up there!)

[Witherslack Hall was the home of the Stanley family, but is now used as a residential school for children with problems. There is also a riding school here.]

At the entrance to the Hall, turn right down a track, through a gate and bear left. Where the path forks, keep right so that the football pitch is on your left. Go over the stile on your left and along the edge of the playing field, bearing right at the end. Bear left and follow the yellow arrows uphill. The path becomes steep and rocky and requires a bit of care. A stile takes you through a wall into the Nature Reserve where a notice board tells you something about it. Bear left and follow the path in a northerly direction (towards the Lake District fells). Just before the views in this direction are fully revealed, look for a path to the right marked by a line of cairns (piles of stones). Follow this path to the summit - Lord's Seat - where you will have extensive views in every direction - Morecambe Bay in the south, Cartmel Fell in the west, the Lakeland fells in the north and the Pennines in the east. Before you wander about and loose your bearings, identify the path by which you will leave the summit - a 90 degree turn to the left i.e. towards the north.

[The cairn at the summit commemorates Canon Hervey of Great Salkeld, an all round naturalist in the tradition of Rev Gilbert White, and a man with great enthusiasm for life and a vision about conservation before it became fashionable.]

Follow the well-trodden path downhill and alongside some miniature cliffs to another noticeboard. Turn right and go through the wall. In about 200 yards, look for a left turn down a bank and under a yew tree. Continue down this path until you reach a post with yellow arrows, turn left here and continue to the small wooden gate** and the path between the Christmas trees which you passed in the opposite direction a couple of hours ago. Go straight over the next junction (3 yellow arrows, one white). Finding the correct turn off this path to retrace your steps is difficult, so continue on it. A wall should appear on your right - keep alongside this wall after you emerge from the woodland into a field. It curves to the right opposite a lime kiln,

[for information about lime kilns see North Whitbarrow walk]

and a wooden gate leads you back into The Row from the opposite direction. Go into the centre of the hamlet then turn left to retrace your steps past the dew-pond and back down to the hotel.