A River Kent Ramble

Start. Oxenholme.

Route. Oxenholme - Burton Road - Oxenholme Lane - Natland - Hawes Lane - Hawes Bridge - Hawes Wood - Low Park - Nannypie Lane - Wilson Place - Hawes Bridge - Hawes Lane - Natland - Helm Lane - The Helm - Station Inn - Oxenholme.

Notes. Nineteen hours of heavy rain, my home-town's on flood alert, only two years after the last devastating floods we still haven't fully recovered from. It's my day off I'm stuck at home staring out the window through torrents of water pooling down the glass. Around two in the afternoon I decided to tog up and brave the elements. With roads in and out of South Lakeland under water it would have to be a walk from home. If you witnessed the amount of gortex I was cocooned in it was obvious I didn't expect any improvement any time soon.

I picked my way to Natland over the surface of roads and lanes resembling rivers, from Natland I accessed Hawes Lane, my guide to the banks of a swollen River Kent. I'd no plan, that would be dictated by the depth of flood water encountered, which turned out to be deep in Hawes Lane, after plunging head long into a number of flooded sections I was amassed to emerge with dry feet. I continued to Hawes Bridge, marveled at the height and speed of the river before committing myself to a route down stream.

In the event I walked and paddled my way through Hawes Wood, the path was wet, the mud deep, I soldiered on, what lay further down stream made the discomfort worth while. Through cow pastures I squelched , there'd be a lot of squelching today. When the path descended to the banks of the river I joined a narrow trod traversing between the river and the head race that once supplied water to power the water wheels of the Sedgwick Gunpowder Company. Today this path was quite intimidating, the head race to one side and the noise and boiling waters of the swollen River Kent the other, at one point I was looking up at the water, wet leaves made the path slippery, one wrong step could be fatal, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Adrenalin buzz over I wandered on to the foot-bridge allowing access to Wilson Place, enough bravado for one day, I crossed said bridge then headed up the opposite bank. As I traversed a large damp field the rain stopped, the sun cut through a large rent in the cloud., I squinted into the sudden brightness, eyes taking time to adjust. By the time I reached Hawes Lane I was down to a tea-shirt wishing I'd put shorts on. Unfortunately I was heading home so formulated a plan that would keep me out in this fabulous weather window a little longer.

My plan, to climb The Helm, the little pimple behind my house, a pimple that gifts many locals, mainly dog walkers with absolutely fabulous views. This is a wonderful little hill, don't take my word for it, it was good enough for Iron Age man, he built a fort on the summit, later to be adopted by the Romans and is still visible today.

From Natland I ascended Helm Lane, this terminated at the main road, I crossed to access The Helm. The steep slopes gifted me with views that halted me in my tracks many times, once at the summit I caught my breath and drank them in. With a dry stone wall and ridge line to guide me I strolled north into more breath-tacking views. The path soon descended depositing me on a B road next to the Station Inn. All that remained, the short walk over tarmac back home, as I wandered through the village the rain returned, a damp end to what turned out to be a somewhat unexpected rewarding afternoon.

view route map.


Hawes Lane looking towards Natland with The Helm melting into the horizon.

The Swollen River Kent at Hawes Bridge.

The River Kent below Hawes Bridge, to the right Hawes Wood.

Stepping onto the wall dividing the head race from the waters of the River Kent.

The River Kent at Low Park.

Looking back along the path I've just traversed, the picture doesn't do it justice.

Another view up the head race, normally just a trickle, normally I don't mind standing on this rickety bridge, but that's around 4ft deep and fast flowing.

On safer ground approaching the buildings of the Sedgwick Gunpowder Company.

The river as I exit Low Park.

The foot-bridge at Wilson Place.

Looking to the tree cover that guards Low Park caravan site.

Is this a promise of things to come.

This came next, more bog hopping.

Approaching Hawes Lane with Kendal Fell just visible above the tree line.

In Hawes Lane looking to Prizet House.

The Helm on view from Hawes Lane.

Ascending The Helm looking to Kendal town backed by Kendal Fell.

Potter Fell under a dark cloud.

Another view to Kendal Fell with Scout Scar running out of shot to the left.

Looking down on Natland with the limestone escarpment of Scout Scar stretched out across the horizon.

The summit The Helm, with a stunning view over Kendal.

To the south across the valley cut by Peasey Beck, Farleton Fell.

The summit, the low mounds and a number of other embellishments under the summit are all that remain of Castlesteads Fort, built around the sixth century BC and occupied until the mid first century AD, generally regarded as a settlement of high status, inhabited on a permanent basis.

Sunburst over Sizergh Fell.

Through a curtain of hazy light views to Arnside Knott and Morecambe Bay, capturing the sun the mouth of Lyth Valley.

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