The Benson Knott, the Mint and the Kent.

Start. Oxenholme.

Route. Oxenholme - Hayclose Lane - Paddy Lane - Appleby Road - Benson Knott - Appleby Road - Mealbank Wood - Laverock Bridge - Mealbank Road - Mint Bridge - Sandy Bottoms - Kendal - Busher Walk - Water Side - Romney Bridge - Natland Road - Millbeck Lane - Lancaster Canal - Crowpark Bridge - Hawes Lane - Natland - Oxenholme.

Notes. To be honest I didn't know what to expect from this walk, sore feet through too much road walking for a start, what I got blew me away, the views from Benson Knott are jaw-dropping, worth every mile of tarmac. If you don't fancy the long walk in Hayfell Bridge makes a good starting point, start at the small parking space (room for two or three cars) for a short two mile loop taking in the summit and views, of corse you'll miss the Rivers Mint and Kent, why not save them for another day, another walk. Come along there's something for everyone on this stroll through the sunlight of childhood memories. As a kid I grew up on a council estate overlooked by Benson Knott, come the school holidays a bunch of us would head up the hill after breakfast, not returning until tea time, paths we ignored, walls we climbed, quad bikes had yet to be invented, tractors were the farmers choice of transport, we were unstoppable. Today I stuck to the access rules, I'm to old to outrun enraged red faced farmers on quad bikes.

I left Oxenholme as I have so many times during this pandemic, followed the road to the Station Inn but then turned left onto Hayclose Lane, this lane gets quite busy I took care. Half way along a footpath cuts through a number of farms avoiding the traffic, as it was early, eight o clock ish I stuck to the road not wanting to intrude. I soon reached Paddy Lane the single ribbon of tarmac that was to guide me through some stunning views, passed Greyhound Farm then on to Hayfell Bridge then Appleby Road.

I turned right onto Appleby Road, a few yards up the road a finger-post invited me to Hay Fell, I obliged. The ascent started immediately, first over a stoney track then through rough pastures containing nosey cows and sheep, gates and stiles aided my crossing of field boundaries, the cows dictated the speed I walked, I soon found myself ascending to the twin summits of Benson Knott. The views from this lesser walked hill are stunning, from Morecambe Bay in the south to a massive arch of Lakeland Fells reaching from Coniston Old Man through Langdale ending at High Street including the Sleddale Fells, Shap Fells and the Howgill Fells, views so dizzy I had to sit down, brew up and drink them in.

Brew over I descended to the stile that had allowed access to the summit, to avoid the bovine types in the other field I descended along the edge of a dry stone wall. After crossing an old boundary wall I turned left, no path on the ground but a green line of small dashes on the map promised it was a right of way. I soon reached a stile, crossed to be met by another group of nosey cows, I wandered through them their beady eyes never leaving me, safely across the field a metal gate allowed access to the stoney track that guided me in earlier.

Back on Appleby Road I turned towards Kendal, wandered as far as Mealbank Road, this narrow tarmac lane descended through Mealbank Wood depositing me at a fine single arched bridge spanning the River Mint, this was Laverock Bridge. I scrambled down to the waters edge, feeling the need for another brew I picnicked on the river bank.

Once I'd dragged myself away Mealbank Road ushered me towards Kendal, when the River Mint swung to reach the road a finger-post invited me to Mint Bridge. Riverside rambling followed, over 3 ½ miles of it, spectacular and untamed at first, then after Mint Bridge, industrial, the waters tempered by concrete banking's and large boulders. At Sandy Bottoms (not named on the OS map) the Mint met the Kent, the Kent in turn guided me through Kendal, my hometown, familiar paths and familiar people.

Down Busher Walk I wandered, along Water Side passed Abbot Hall Art Gallery and the Parish Church. Once on Natland Road I wandered on to Millbeck Lane, climbed the lane to access the Lancaster Canal, which in turn guided me to Crowpark Bridge and the tarmac surface of Hawes Lane. We've wandered over Hawes Lane many times lately, again it guided me to Natland, again I joined Oxenholme Lane for the final climb to Burton Road, across the road and railway line The Helm dominated the horizon, three miles to the north clearly visible the twin summits of Benson Knott, but more to the point there was Oxenholme and home, tired legs dragged me the final few hundred yards.

view route map.


The Helm as seen from Hayclose Lane.

A stunning early morning view to Arnside, it's knott and the vast expanse of Morecambe Bay.

Kendal backed by Kendal Fell and a saw tooth skyline of Lakeland favourites.

From Paddy Lane views to Hampsfell, the cliffs of Whitbarrow with Sizergh Fell in the middle distance to the left,

Looking down on High Jenkincrag Farm with the Kent valley beyond.

Wonderful light on the upper slopes of Benson Knott.

Ascending Benson Knott with this staggering view behind me.

The rolling summits of the Whinfell Ridge, Ashstead Fell, Castle Fell and Whinfell with the masts of the Repeater Station to the far right.

Height gained and the conurbation of Kendal tilts into view backed by, Scout Scar and Kendal Fell.

Walking through the sunlight of childhood memories, can't remember the scene ever being this good, stunning views to the Langdale skyline, including Scafell Pike peering through the coll at Three Tarns.

The valley of Longsleddale viewed over the pastoral lands of South Lakeland.

The Howgill Fells seen over Dockergarths Wood.

Views towards Morecambe Bay from the summit of Benson Knott.

The trig point with a stunning view to the Coniston massif.

Laverock Bridge over the River Mint, this steep single arched bridge has spanned the river since at least 1692, originally a narrow pack horse bridge, the south section was added (date not recorded) to allow wider vehicles to pass over.

Thirlmere Aqueduct over the River Mint.

The River Mint below Thirlmere Aqueduct.

The River Mint drains into the River Kent here at Sandy Bottoms on the edge of Mintsfeet Industrial Estate.

Benson Knott seen from near Sandy Bottoms.

Bridges over the River Kent, the footbridge guided me onto Busher Walk, the other carries the South Lakes Railway Line to Windermere.

The three arches of Miller Bridge, built in 1818 to replace a wooden structure that got washed away in a flood, originally called Kent Bridge, John Wood's 1833 map of the town christened it Miller Bridge, the name stuck.

Nether Bridge, Nether meaning last, so this was always the last bridge on the river. Originally the main route south crossed this bridge heading to Lancaster then on to London, the underside shows the original packhorse bridge on the down stream side, the middle section being added in 1772 when the new turnpike road was built, later in 1908 the upstream section was built leaving us what we see today.

Lit by the sun Watercrook Farm with Scout Scar reaching across the skyline.

Seen from the Lancaster Canal the twin summits of Benson Knott.

Also seen from the canal The Helm.

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