A Circuit from Oxenholme including the River Kent, Levens Park and Stainton Aqueduct.

Start. Oxenholme.

Route. Oxenholme - Natland - Hawes Lane - Hawes Gorge - Wilson Place - Force Gorge - Park Head - Beech Wood - Levens Park - Levens Bridge - High Barns - Hincaster Hall - Tunnel Hill - Lancaster Canal - Stainton Aqueduct - Stainton - Crosscrake - Low Barrows Green - Barrows Green - Oxenholme.

Notes. Welcome to a grey South Cumbria, this was a should I go or should I stay walk, it was raining when I crawled from my bed so it was stay, an hour later the rain stopped, the green light I needed. By the time I got my boots on the rain had returned but I went any way.

Dressed in gortex, a wide brimmed hat to keep the rain off my specs I left Oxenholme, as I have so many times during this pandemic I descended Oxenholme Lane, strolled through Natland to access Hawes Lane, Hawes Lane in turn guided me to the banks of the River Kent. It was wet under foot, I was making this route up as I went along so opted to wander along the east bank of the river, the path on the other side is far more interesting but some what muddier.

The River Kent is short, only 20 miles from it’s source in the hills above Kentmere to Morecambe Bay, but it powered many mills. The upper river drove corn mills, bobbin mills and wood turning mills, between Staveley and Burneside the paper industry thrived, in Kendal woolen mills and snuff production prospered, below Kendal three gunpowder works produced black powder, (the latter I passed on my trek down stream).

South I wandered, the rain persisted, I continued to the footbridge at Wilson Place, after crossing said bridge a tarmac lane guided me to Force Gorge. Maintaining progress south I passed the remains of black powder mills, under the A590 the main road into the Lake District, then into fields at the tiny hamlet of Park Head. Field walking continued along the edge of Beech Wood until a fine stile allowed access to Levens Park.

Through Levens Park I wandered a good path under foot, on reaching the twin arches of Levens Bridge I left the park, crossed the bridge, ignored the footpath running up the opposite bank of the river, a finger-post a few yards further on promised passage to High Barns and Hincaster, this I followed. The concrete access track to High Barns guided me through a large field, the three story farm house grew larger with every step, once at the farm a stile next to the 18th century building allowed access to the next field, I crossed climbed the hill then exited the field via a small gate onto a narrow track, this in turn guided me to Hincaster Hall. After passing the hall I descended the narrow tarmac lane to Hincaster.

Hincaster a fortification haunted by wild hens,"henn-ceaster", which usually donates to Roman fortification or villa, I thought I’d just mention that as I climbed the horse path over Tunnel Hill, looking back to make sure I wasn’t being pursued by wild hens. The horse path deposited me on the canal which I followed to Stainton, through rain spattered spectacles I could seen the heavy machinery used in the restoration of Stainton Aqueduct had vanished, a short detour was required, it was time to find out what £2.2 million had been spent on. I strolled to the aqueduct, the work got the thumbs up, the price the thumbs down.

A cobble stone path runs through the tunnel, I followed this under the canal, passed some small cottages onto Stainton Lane, after walking up the lane a few yards two finger-posts welcomed me, one bridleway, destination unknown, the other a path, destination again unknown. I had a rough idea where the path ended, so followed it, after a small cops and a couple of fields I emerged onto a tarmac lane on the edge of Stainton. I turned left away from the village, the lane climbed to join another lane. Hemmed in by dry stone walls and hedge rows this lane guided me north, through Crosscrake then Low Barrows Green I wandered before turning right to access Barrows Green and the A65. This road gets busy, it’s edged with a pavement, parapet, sidewalk, whatever you choose to call it it's a god send, it safely ushered me home through the noise and spray of traffic and the rain that was still falling.

view route map.


Across a rain washed Kent valley, Scout Scar and Helsington Barrows seen from Oxenholme Lane.

The Lancaster/Kendal Canal as seen from Crowpark Bridge.

Views down the River Kent from Hawes Bridge.

The way ahead, coppice woodland tells a story of past industry, across the river at this point lies the remains of the New Sedgwick Gunpowder Works.

Force Gorge directly west of Sedgwick.

Another view of Force Gorge this time from Force Bridge.

Field paths guide me along the edge of Beech Wood.

En route through Levens Park.

I didn't need this, it's raining, it's a long drive to the three story farm house of High Barns and the farmers been muck spreading, it stinks, you can almost taste it and, it's the kind of smell that sticks to you, maybe it's a good job it's raining.

Grey through the murk Whitbarrow.

Above High Barns looking to rain washing the tree tops of Levens Park.

Next on the bill a fine old building Hincaster Hall dates back to the 16th century.

The Horse Path over Tunnel Hill..

The Lancaster/Kendal Canal at Stainton.

The waters of St Sunday's Beck pass under the canal at Stainton Aqueduct.

With the canal above me, St Sundays Beck next to me at least I'm out of the rain.

Sizergh Fell seen from near Low Barrows Green.

A distant Kendal Fell seen over Low Barrows Green.

Drab today, grey against a colourless sky, Whitbarrow.

Near Barrows Green viewing Kendal backed by Kendal Fell.

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