Halecat Wood and Yewbarrow.

Start. Derby Arms, Witherslack.

Route. Derby Arms - Catcragg Farm - Holy Well - Halecat Wood - Slate Hill - Bleacrag Road - Church Road - Knot Wood - Lawns Wood - Lawns House - Yewbarrow - Church Road - High Fell End - Latterbarrow - Derby Arms.

Notes. Today's walk was a ramble, a ramble through the fields, lanes and extensive woodland of the Winster Valley, the best I could manage for height was the limestone mound of Yewbarrow, what it lacks in stature it makes up for in views.

I parked at the Derby Arms, my route took me south over the broken tarmac surface of the old A590, on reaching the new road I followed the grass verge for a few yards to reach a filling station. Immediately after the filling station a finger-post invited me to Halecat House, obliging I left the noisy traffic of the A590 behind. Wandering north along green lanes, through woodland, across fields and striding out over the odd stretch of single track road, yellow arrows steered me in the right direction. A multitude of paths met at grid 424 857, at this cross-roads I swung right up a farm lane, leaving it almost immediately when arrows marked the way through yet more fields, I emerged on Church Road at Askew Green. A few hundred yards of road walking (north) followed before a finger-post pointed up the hill to Witherslack Hall.

Striding out over woodland paths I ascended through Hagg Wood then Lawns Wood before passing the delightful Lawns House. Turning my back on the house I ascended the high ground for the day, that is, if you can call 400ft -ish high ground. After visiting Yewbarrow I descended through woods to the south of the summit, soon emerging on Church Road near High Fell End. From High Fell End yet another finger-post pointed the way, Latterbarrow. The path passed between the buildings, mostly converted barns, before descending through a field to enter Latterbarrow Nature Reserve, a short descent through the reserve saw me emerge from the trees back on the old A590 within sight of the Derby Arms.

view route map.


The start and even better the finish for today's little ramble, the Derby Arms built in 1821 on the old Barrow turnpike.

In the fields near Catcragg Farm looking to Halecat Wood.

This pool hidden by dense undergrowth, tucked away in a hollow concealed by limestone cliffs, looking like a perfect place to abandon old farm machinery was once a place of importance, Holy Well one of many scattered throughout the country.

There was obviously some mining went on in the distant past, by the colours staining the limestone there must be still a few ore deposits left.

This stream issues from the base of a cliff a few yards east of Holy Well.

After leaving Holy Well I spent half an hour fighting my way along narrow woodland paths overgrown with brambles and stinging nettles, I've been accosted by several clegs, stung countless times all in the name of pleasure, was I glad to stumble out of the undergrowth into this clearing.

And this is how the main of the woodland paths were for the rest of the walk, the undergrowth's been cut back in the name of conservation.

Looking to Newton Fell from the lane leading to Slate Hill.

After Slate Hill this lane leads between Bleacrag Road and Holme Road, a good short cut....

....with views across the Winster Valley to the plantations guarding the slopes of Gummer's How.

Another lane to follow, the finger-post tells me this is the path to Low Low Wood, "sounds like a lullaby".

West across the Winster Valley.

Another lane, this time along the edge of Hagg Wood en route to Witherslack Hall.

This track looks considerably older than the rest I've walked along today, it takes to the high ground avoiding what would have once been peat bog and sea washed turf, for these two valleys running north from the head of Morecambe Bay. The Winster and Lyth were once marshy extensions to the bay itself, the Enclosure Acts in 1803 and 1838 saw the land re-claimed, drainage ditches dug, walls were built and hedgerows laid.

Another woodland clearing, I mentioned conservation earlier, this rather large patch of woodland and several others, including the path edges have been cleared to help preserve the butterfly population, mainly the High Brown Flitillary, the Pearl Bordered Flitillary and the Duke of Burgundy, and here was me thinking they'd been cleared to make for pleasant walking.

Pleasant rambling through Lawns Wood.

From the summit of Yewbarrow a hazy view across Morecambe Bay.

On a clear day the views from the summit of little Yewbarrow are stunning, today we have a murky view across upper Morecambe Bay to a distant Ingleborough.

To the north the grey hills of Lakeland.

Viewing the limestone plateau of Whitbarrow.

Agaricus bisporus the common mushroom, I could have easily filled a bag today.

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