The Kendal Scars from Oxenholme.

Start. Oxenholme.

Route. Oxenholme - Natland - Crowpark Bridge - Lancaster/Kendal Canal - Castle Bridge - Abbot Hall Park - Captain French Lane - Garth Heads - Castle Howe - Queen's Road - The Tram - Kendal Fell - Cunswick Fell - Scout Scar - Helsington Barrows - Helsington Laithes - Scroggs Wood - River Kent - Hawes Bridge - Hawes Lane - Crowpark Bridge - Natland - Oxenholme.

Notes. Welcome to the Kendal Scars, an up-thrust of Carboniferous Limestone a stones throw to the west of Kendal, eastern slopes dip gently into the Kent valley, western scarps plunge in a maelstrom of chaos and clutter to the flat lands of Lyth. A wander along this limestone ridge gifts the lucky walker with continuous views to a skyline of Lake District giants, the Howgill Fells, the Middleton and Barbon High Fells and ever changing seascapes of Morecambe Bay. But first I have to get there, a short walk through history should get the lungs and legs working.

I left home descending to the village of Natland, from this quiet backwater I wandered passed the school, village green and Post Office (once the village pub) to access Hawes Lane. The dry stone walls of this narrow lane then guided me to Crowpark where I joined the dry Northern Reaches of the Lancaster to Kendal Canal. Opened in 1819 this super highway of its day turned Kendal into a wealthy town, imports of coal from the Durham coal fields forced fuel prices down, exports of slate and limestone from local quarries, wool and other goods became far cheaper to transport, local entrepreneurs reaped the benefits.

North I walked probably at the same speed the canal barges traveled, after crossing Burton Road and Parkside Road I reached Castle Bridge, here I left the canal ascending a well warn flight of steps which deposited me in Parr Street. Probably named after Catherine Parr sixth wife of Henry VIII, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Parr lord of the manor of Kendal and Westmorland, the Parr family residence is just up the hill to the right, visit it but save some energy for the rest of this walk, its a steep pull.

I descended the hill, crossed the river at a fine footbridge to access Abbot Hall Park, after walking through the park I stepped into Captain French Lane, don’t rightly know if it was named after said captain but it guided me to the steep cobbled slopes of Garth Brow. Garth Brow in turn deposited me on Castle Howe, what remains of Kendal's Norman Castle. Rising from the Motte a slender monument, erected to celebrate the 1688 revolution whereby King James II was overthrown by Parliament allowing some guy called William of Orange to sit on the throne.

From Castle Howe a muddy path ushered me into Beast Banks, I crossed the road before following Mount Pleasant onto Serpentine Road where I stepped onto The Tram, a narrow track climbing Kendal Fell. The golf links were dead, the course and club house closed due to Covid restrictions, it was quite safe to traverse the fell, which I did followed by a footbridge over the by-pass, from the large field I’d just stepped into it was a short easy walk to the summit of Cunswick Fell. Views from the large limestone cairn marking the summit were stunning, a myriad of mountains dressed in their winter coats, I drank them in before heading south.

Along the edge of Scar Wood I wandered, crossed Underbarrow Road the only breach in this limestone escarpment, then ascended Scout Scar into more breath-taking views. It was busy it nearly always is, I wandered on hoping to lose the crowds, the trig point presented me with just that opportunity. I left the main trod heading for Helsington Barrows, south-east then south to reach a dry stone wall, I swung left immediately starting my descent. The wall, my friend ushered me through a tortured landscape of shattered limestone and dwarfed vegetation fighting for a root hold in these fragile soils. At the foot of the field a large kissing gate allowed access to Brigsteer Road, directly across the road a narrow stile greeted me, a portal into sheep pastures.

With field paths under foot I descended towards Helsington Laithes, stiles and gates allowed safe crossing of field boundaries, a fine under pass safely conveyed me under the by-pass, I emerged at Helsington Laithes with the A6 to negotiate, safely across I wandered through Scroggs Wood to the banks of the River Kent. The slice of riverside walking that followed was muddy under foot, the frost and ice of earlier had melted leaving a sticky gloop, I slipped and slid my way to Hawes Bridge and the safety of Hawes Lane. Once across the river a short climb deposited me at Crowpark, all that remained, to re-trace my steps of earlier.

view route map.


Seen from the canal at Crowpark the wooded slopes of Ashsteads Fell with the hills above Longsledale running out of shot to the left.

Castle Bridge marks the point I turn my back on the canal.

The River Kent seen from Abbot Hall Footbridge.

Squeezed between the limestone walls of Garth Heads en route to Castle Howe.

Castle Howe, what remains of Kendal's Norman Castle, rising from the Motte a slender monument, erected to celebrate the 1688 revolution whereby King James II was overthrown by Parliament allowing William of Orange to sit on the throne.

From one castle to another, viewing Kendal Castle the Parr family residence.

Ascending The Tram as Google Maps likes to call it, us locals know it as the Tram Heights, an old tramway used to transport limestone from the quarry under Kettlewell Crag.

Enjoying stunning vistas over Kendal and the Kent valley from Kendal Fell.

The summit of Cunswick Fell provides a fine viewpoint as these shots prove, white caps on Lakeland peaks, High Street and it's lieutenants....

....glistening white in the sun Wainwright's herd of sleeping elephants the Howgill Fells....

....white coats on high mountains, a stunning view to Pike of Blisco, Crinkle Crags, Bow Fell and the Langdale Pikes.

Icy conditions along the edge of Scar Wood.

Breathtaking views from Scout Scar.

Timeless views over Lyth Valley, from Coniston Old Man to the Langdale Pikes.

Spectacular sweeping panoramas.

White coats on high mountains, the Coniston massif.

Above the cliffs of Scout Scar stunning views to Arnside Knott and Morecambe Bay.

Above Hodgson's Leap drinking in spectacular views.

At the trig point on Scout Scar viewing the Middleton and Barbon High Fells.

Sunlight catches the snow painted slopes of the Howgill Fells.

Descending into the green pastures of Helsington, looking to The Helm backed by the Barbon High Fells.

The 15th century Helsington Laithes Manor.

The River Kent and the head race that once powered the bobbin mill north of Hawes Bridge.

The River Kent above Hawes Gorge, one of a number of streams entering the river here, it is believed this particular one is fed from water running off the slopes of The Helm.

The Helm above Natland.

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