A Circuit from Oxenholme including Sizergh and Helsington Barrows.

Start. Oxenholme.

Route. Oxenholme - Natland - Cracalt - Larkrigg - Wilson Place - Nannypie Lane - Sizergh - Chapel Wood - Sizergh Castle - Holeslack Farm - Helsington Church - Brigsteer Road - Helsington Barrows - Warriners Wood - Helsington Laithes - Scroggs Wood - River Kent - Hawes Bridge - Natland - Oxenholme.

Notes. Before we start todays outing I have a question, when do you, or when do you not trust cows? I personally don’t, I won’t let them spoil a good walk usually walking through or passed them, one eye on the route ahead the other on the beasts in question. I know people who bluntly refuse to traverse fields containing these animals, mainly they're just nosy grass eaters but the heard I encountered today were different.

The day started on a high, I got thrown out of the house, the boss told me to get from under her feet, she had jobs to do, I threw some walking gear into my bag and down the road I went. Down the road meant descending Helm Lane to access a field path just after High House, this green trod deposited me at Cracalt on a bridleway that in turn guided me through sheep pastures then along narrow lanes to the footbridge at Wilson Place. After crossing said bridge the tarmac ribbon of Nannypie Lane ushered me out of the Kent valley to Sizergh, behind the Strickland Arms a finger-post points the way, this path I followed passed a row of cottages then into cow pastures. Then we go back to the start of this account, when do you, or when do you not trust cows?

I ascended the field a good path under foot, as I gained height a heard of cows tilted into view, bullocks varying in size, they looked placid enough, twenty or so grazing along the fence boundary. As I ascended towards them two broke from the heard racing down the field at pace straight towards me, I made myself look big, arms out-stretched, no way were these beasts going to stop. I found myself atop a gate four beady eyes and two sets of horns pointing in my direction, a stand-off followed, I won, they trotted of down the field. After climbing from the gate I started up the field again, another this time bigger with bigger horns started it’s charge, back on the gate another stand-off followed, this lasted longer but it to trotted down the field.

Whilst on the gate dangling a leg as bait I noticed the beasts on the far side of the field were breaking from their grazing, rushing down the field, these cows were organised, well drilled, they had a plan and it didn't look good for ramblers. At a guess I’d say other walkers were pinned down lower down the field or it was feeding time, the farmer may be dolling out hay, maybe they thought that’s who I was sitting on my gate. My third and final attempt followed, out of nowhere came another bovine monster, I didn't even see it coming, back on my gate I decided if the cow meant me harm that was the perfect opportunity.

Not wanting to take another chance I climbed from my perch into the woods, there was actually a wide path, it deposited me on the access drive to Sizergh Castle. After walking through the castle car park I stepped onto a good path traversing sheep pastures, this well used trod terminated at Holeslack Farm to be replaced by a concrete drive. A steep pull up said drive followed, once on level ground an easy walk saw me stride into stunning vistas, passed the little church at Helsington then on to Helsington Barrows, a landscape of scrub, shattered limestone and stunted vegetation.

After traversing the first field I left the main trod, keeping to the left of a dry stone wall I wandered through this eerie landscape, day was slowly slipping into night, the temperature starting to drop. At a wall corner I started to descend, another pack of bovine lawnmowers greeted me, no interest what so ever, I wandered passed with confidence to reach a wide gate allowing access to Brigsteer Road. Directly across the road a stile permitted access to sheep pastures, I crossed to join a good path that safely guide me through golden light to Helsington Laithes.

It was a short hop from Helsington Laithes over the main road, through Scroggs to join the banks of the River Kent. With muddy field paths under foot I wandered into early evenings long shadows, the sun was ducking under the horizon as I reached Hawes Bridge, with the tarmac of Hawes Lane under foot I climbed out of the valley to Natland, continuing up Oxenholme Lane to reach home.

view route map.


Nearing Cracalt.

In fields at Larkrigg looking back to Larkrigg Hall Bridge.

Wilson Place Footbridge the point I crossed the waters of the River Kent.

After a short diversion through Chapel Wood this well used path guided me from Sizergh Castle to Holeslack Farm.

Near the little church at Helsington enjoying stunning views over Lyth Valley....

....and to the left Arnside Knott and the shimmering waters of Morecambe Bay.

From Helsington Barrows views to the Middleton and Barbon High Fells.

Dressed in their white coats the High Street massif, High Street, Harter Fell with Kentmere Pike kissed by the sun.

Above Burnbarrow Scar soaking up views over Lyth Valley, to the left Coniston Old Man and it's lieutenants, far right the Langdale massif.

Viewing the limestone cliffs of Scout Scat, I'm afraid this is as close as we get today.

Benson Knott catches the late evening sunlight, across the horizon The Howgill Fells.

The gentle rolling landscape of the Kent valley.

Golden light in sheep pastures above Helsington Laithes.

The River Kent seen from Hawes Bridge.

Viewing Benson Knott from Crowpark, the embankment to the right is the line of the Lancaster/Kendal Canal.

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