During the strange Spring of 2020 when most residents of Crosthwaite rarely left the parish many of us rediscovered the old cart tracks, bridleways and footpaths that our forebears knew well. They would mostly have used them in their day to day lives to visit family, church or go about their work. For most of us, this dry Spring of glorious weather it was exercise that made us leave our homes. We met neighbours along the way and chatted at a distance. For many of us it made us appreciate afresh the beautiful valleys we have the privilege to live in as we followed Spring. First it drained our sodden land, then blossomed and finally turned to Summer’s glory. We heard bird song more loudly, watched lambs turn from babies to playful youngsters and the colour of Spring turn from yellow, to blue and to the crimson of Summer.
These walks are too good to keep for ourselves and so I hope by recording them to encourage others to explore our parish and beyond. I will add to them gradually as time permits and welcome any corrections to the narrative along the way. Perhaps others might want to add their favourite walks to these.
The format will be to indicate a route map to be used in conjunction with your own ordinance survey map. I have found it easy to find my way around using the OS app on my phone, but an old fashioned paper map might be just as good for some. I will describe the route of the walk, but this will only be a guide not a set of comprehensive directions so please don’t blame me if you go wrong!
There are plenty of viewpoints and points of interest and so I will try and draw these out and illustrate some with a snap.
Our fells here in Crosthwaite and Lyth are not so mountainous but they are hills. The area is characterised by gentle slopes and hillocks, but the Norse derived name Lyth means ‘ hilly’ and so most walks involve enough hill walking to get you out of breath at times.
Mostly the walks will avoid roads unless necessary, but our roads are quiet and some lovely walks can be enjoyed down them. Mostly the walks will follow ancient footpaths, cart tracks and pack pony trails that abound in this area. The two main rivers and valleys have old bridges crossing them and rise to uplands that frequently give outstanding views of the high fells of lakeland and the Kent estuary on Morecambe Bay.
In the higher parts of the parish there are extensive areas of open land where you have the right to roam, although not all of these have a permissive path to access them. Unless you plan to visit these by helicopter or parachute then you may feel you need the landowners permission to use a private track or path.
Our parish is beautiful and often overlooked in the rush to the fells, but it is still a working environment and our farming families have busy lives. Please help them by following the country code and particularly by leaving gates as you find them and keeping dogs under control, particularly when stock are out at grass.
I won’t give advice about clothing or footwear. Weather forecasts are pretty accurate these days and these walks are not in extreme environments, but dress sensibly for the time of year and take a drink with you if you’re going to be out more than a couple of hours. It’s not sensible to drink out of the becks in our relatively lowland valleys.
I’ll put an approximate time as guidance on each walk, but clearly these will depend on how you spend your time! Personally I walk these hills around 2.5 miles each hour but frequently get distracted and take longer.
All walks start from the crossroads at Crosthwaite Green, because that’s where I live. A word of caution on parking though. Safe parking around the green is quite restricted and visitors with cars might like to use the lay by on the A5074 at the top of Totter Bank (SD432911), or there is space for a couple of cars at the pull-off just beyond Hardriggs (SD436919). Give me a wave if you are setting off from here! I’ll record the walks in order of approximate duration.
Martin Douglas, June 2020.