Start. Natland.

Route. Natland - Hawes Lane - Hawes Wood - Low Park - Force Gorge - Back Lane - Sedgwick - Kendal/Lancaster Canal - Larkrigg Spring Wood - Cracalt - Natland.

Notes. I walked out of Natland through default, that's where I abandoned the car after three attempts to drive up the main road, a few inches of snow fell onto an already icy surface forcing us early morning commuters to use foot power to get home. The Kent valley rarely gets snow, the Lake District mountains protect it in the north, the vast spine of the Pennines stands guard in the east, the brunt of snow falls on high ground leaving us wet and miserable skulking around in Wellington boots cowering under umbrellas. As far as the rest of the country was concerned the so called Beast from the East brought deep snow and chaos, the few inches it saved for us proved equally chaotic, it's pathetic really.

What the cold snap from Siberia did bring was freezing conditions, and being local I know the limestone gorges to the west of Natland and Sedgwick always prove a little special under these conditions. Snow takes the rough edges from the land, walls of ice make for stunning scenery, that's what I was hunting out on this short walk through the Kent valley.

Head down against spin drift blowing off the fields I made my way down Hawes Lane, once at Hawes Bridge I joined the west bank of the River Kent, this is the side to walk for the best possible views. Through Hawes Wood I wandered, hard ground made for fast progress, the view across the river kept stopping me in my tracks, massive blades of ice hung from low cliffs kissing the dark deep waters of the river, the limestone shelves I stood on although icy made for a perfect viewing platform, care was needed.

Along river side paths I walked, through sheep pastures before passing more spectacular walls of ice. Through the haunting remains of the New Sedgwick Gunpowder Works I wandered to access yet another equally spectacular limestone gorge. This was Force Gorge, after the usual photo opportunities I turned my back on the river wandering through fields on a path signed canal tow path, on reaching a narrow tarmac lane (Back Lane) I turned left, wandered into Sedgwick then accessed the canal via a set of limestone steps at Sedgwick Aqueduct.

Walking back along the canal turned out to be an experience in itself, the wind was strong ripping snow from the surrounding fields, thrusting it in my face, up my nose, into my eyes, invisible hands shoving me from the path, at least that's how it felt. Larkrigg Spring Wood provided shelter, easy walking for a short while before the next onslaught as I fought my way along the narrow lane leading to Cracalt. From the farm buildings at Cracalt it was a short walk into Natland and the shelter of the parked car.

view route map.


An icy view to Kendal Fell from Hawes Lane.

Views to the frozen fields of Helsington across the Kent valley.

Hawes Bridge has spanned this water filled ravine since the 18th century.

The east bank of the River Kent decorated by a tapering mass of ice.

Spikes of ice kiss the dark waters of the river.

What a wonderful sight, proving nature under the right conditions can make a far better job than man of sculpturing the landscape.

This feeder stream falling over iced up debris, once supplied water to power the grinding wheels of the New Sedgwick Gunpowder Works, a stones throw down stream.

The River Kent at Low Park.

The head race that once carried water to power the gunpowder industry.

Force Gorge and another super display of ice crystals.

One of the reasons winter is so special south of Kendal.

By the time you read this they'll have probably melted , so next time we get a cold snap take a stroll down the River Kent south of Kendal.

Force Gorge a spectacular place any time of year.

Arctic conditions on Wellheads Hill, yes I know most parts of the country are under considerably more snow, but this is arctic for us.

Back Lane leading into Sedgwick.

Sedgwick Aqueduct my access point to the canal.

Near Horse Park Bridge looking back to Sedgwick.

Heading for the shelter of Larkrigg Spring Wood, at this point the spin drift was horizontal, I was finding it difficult to walk in a straight line.

Larkrigg Hall Bridge, I'm wandering in the canal out of the wind, once passed the bridge I had to climb out and face the weather once more.

A winter wonderland in the lane to Cracalt.

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