The Kent, the Canal and The Helm.

Start. Oxenholme.

Route. Oxenholme - Natland - Hawes Lane - Hawes Bridge - Wilson Place - Sedgwick - Kendal/Lancaster canal - Larkrigg Spring Wood - Newlands - Helm Lane - The Helm - B6254 - Oxenholme.

Notes. I took a walk through the pages of a black and white picture book today, a short walk through a landscape painted monochrome overnight, with more snow forecast I opted for a short walk from home. Descending into the Kent valley I found river bank paths slippery and soft under foot, through dripping woodland and boot sucking mud I made my return along the Kendal/Lancaster canal, a window in the cloud dared me to climb The Helm, the snow was deep and crisp, wonderful walking across the summit of this smallest of hills.

Under dark skies in heavy snow I left Oxenholme, striding out on a snow covered path running parallel to the West Coast railway line, the path soon swung right passing through fields, the narrowest of stiles allowed progress through field boundaries. I emerged in Natland from where I made my way over the tarmac of Hawes Lane to access the banks of the River Kent. With slippery field paths under foot I headed south above the River Kent, just over a mile of riverside walking saw me step onto tarmac at Wilson Place, onwards I strolled, at the road junction I turned left. Leaving the river behind I ascended the narrow road to Sedgwick, in Sedgwick you're greeted by a fine example of an aqueduct, in essence it's a bridge carrying the Kendal/Lancaster canal over the road, having stood the test of time this is an impressive structure, a steep set of well warn steps ascends to the canal, I climbed these to start my journey back.

Heading north the canal guided me under Horse Park Bridge, through the dripping woodland of Larkrigg Spring Wood, I crossed Larkrigg Bridge before following a bridleway to the outskirts of Natland. Here a finger-post invited me to High House, I obliged wandering through yet more fields to emerge into Helm Lane, the sun was making a pathetic attempt to brake through the murk, this gave me an idea, why not ascend The Helm. Up the lane I walked, under the West Coast main line to emerge on the main road looking up the steep snow covered slopes of my back garden (The Helm). Many paths ascend the hill, I opted for the main route and was soon at the trig point, unfortunately that pin hole of sunlight passed while I was on the ascent, views from the summit were zero. Undaunted I followed the main path north, guided by the summit wall I was soon descending towards the Station Inn to start the short walk home over tarmac.

view route map.


The West Coast main line.

Guided by a re-assuring path.

Striding through snow veneered sheep pastures above Natland.

Kendal Fell appears out of the murk, seen from Hawes Lane.

Across the Kent valley Prizet House.

The River Kent above Hawes Bridge.

Where the river plunges into Natland Gorge.

Above the River Kent, nature doesn't work in straight lines, the wall running parallel to the river is the mill race that once supplied water to power the water wheel of the New Sedgwick Gunpowder Works.

North up the River Kent.

A hazy view of Robin Hoods Wood.

The gothic pile of Sedgwick House, built in 1868 for William Henry Wakefield, owner of a substantial slice of the gunpowder industry up and down the Kent valley.

Sedgwick Aqueduct, any one for a slice of useless information, the original plan was for the canal to follow the route of the present day West Coast railway line, avoiding the expense of tunneling through the hills at Hincaster, the expense was deemed exceptable as the canal would then be able to service the lucrative gunpowder industry on the banks of the River Kent.

Horse Park Bridge backed by Larkrigg Spring Wood.

A haunting picture of Horse Park Bridge.

Larkrigg Spring Wood.

From Larkrigg Bridge misty views over the Kent valley.

The Helm.

Striding out through mixed woodland on the lower slopes of The Helm.

Above the tree line, a chink of blue sky encourages me to head for the summit.

View taken down the steep southern slopes.

Views to the south, usually quite stunning, you'll have to take my word for that.

Looking to the trig point.

A hazy scene, the view over the valley of St Sunday's Beck.

Further along the ridge, Oxenholme appears out of the murk.

Looking north over the Station Inn.

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