LANCASTER CANAL, PRIEST HUTTON, BORWICK & CAPERNWRAY
from TEWITFIELD

 


Summary

Date - 21st January 2010 Distance - 6.25 miles
Map - OL7 Start point - Tewitfield Marina (SD 519737)

 

Preface

"Well finally all the snow and ice has gone, thank goodness", remarked Allen.

"Yes, and the good news is that Uncle Eric and Dad have arranged to do that walk that had to be put off last week", replied Shaun.

"That's just great", piped up Tetley. "We have not been able to have Uncle Eric's company since the middle of December, when we did the Wasdale Horseshoe from Shap summit."

"Ooh I remember that", said Grizzly. "The forecast had been for drizzle, but instead we had driving rain in the strong wind. At least though it cleared up after a couple of hours so the second part of the walk was more pleasant."

"Roll on tomorrow, that's what I say", interjected Little Eric.

"Amen to that ", replied Allen.

The Walk

It was a dry day with some sunshine, but with a cold wind at times, when we met Uncle Eric at the Tewitfield Marina by the Longlands Hotel. From home Dad drove north, through Carnforth, then at the third roundabout, along the road towards Burton in Kendal. The Longlands Hotel is just beyond the motorway bridge. Here a new development of holiday homes and berths for canal barges has been built. This marks the northern limit of the navigable section of the Lancaster Canal. Beyond are the disused Northern Reaches, that once stretched to Kendal. There has been a desire to restore this section but this has yet to come to fruition. When the M6 was built the canal was cut three times by the road adding further complications to the restoration.

The walk commenced north along the disused section of the canal, climbing gently to pass the 8 locks, standing forlorn without their gates and paddles. They raised the canal by 75 feet in half a mile, and were the only ones on the 57 miles of the canal between Preston and Kendal, being in use from 1819 to 1942. We should add for the sake of accuracy, that south of Lancaster, on the branch to Glasson Dock, there are six locks taking the canal down to sea level.

By the eighth lock stand an old pair of gates, that were once in place at the top of that lock.

Just a short way on we reached Saltermire Bridge, where we could see just beyond the first place where it is culverted and cut by the M6 motorway. We crossed the bridge, then strolled along the lane to come to the Burton in Kendal road again.

"Boy, wasn't it noisy walking by the motorway" said Shaun.

"Yes, but at least now we have walked away from it we do not have to shout anymore", replied Allen.

"Hey", called out Tetley. "Uncle Brian would agree, that the way someone has altered that sign, is very appropriate to Dad, as he cannot shut him up when he returns from a walk."

Just for the record the last word should read 'matters'.

Carefully crossing the road, it was along the lane opposite, coming on the left to a house. In the garden the White Beck, which starts just a short distance above, has been nicely incorporated into the landscaping.

Opposite the house we climbed the stile on the right, to walk diagonally across the field to a stile in the left corner. Then left to another stile, to then cross diagonally again, a second field to a stile in its left corner. Then over the ladderstile that gave access to an old hedged walled path to a lane, where we went right to the quiet village of Priest Hutton. At the village green it was left along the road signed to Borwick, passing after a while St Mary's Church.

The church was built in 1895/96 at the expense of William Sharp in memory of his wife Clara. According to the information on the Internet, the architects designed a simple building that was well-suited to the size of the community. It contains fine oak pews and excellent stained glass windows by Shrigley and Hunt, who had workshops in Lancaster. For much more information follow this link - St Mary's Church

Continuing along the lane we soon came to the pretty village of Borwick, where there are some very old houses.

"What's that big building behind the high wall", asked Allen.

"Borwick Hall", replied Dad. "The doors on the gatehouse, which was built in 1650, are open, so we will be able to walk just into the entrance and see it.

The hall is Elizabethan, the Manor house being purchased in 1590 by the Kendal clothier, Robert Bindloss, who with his descendants developed the hall as it stands today, adding the gate house and barns - Borwick Hall history. Currently it is operated by Lancashire County Council, offering activity holidays, educational and team building courses and the like, for young people and adults.

In just a short walk we came to Borwick Hall Bridge, where we joined the canal, walking south along the towpath towards Capernwray.

"Look Dad, there is a seat just a few yards ahead, which would be a good place for us to pose for our picture", piped up Grizzly.

"Is is it all right if we stop to do this?, Allen asked Uncle Eric.

"Of course Lads", he replied.

Strolling along the delightful stretch of towpath, we, after a while rounded a bend, and Little Eric asked, "where does that branch over there go?"

"That is the Capernwray Arm. It was used to load boats with stone from the quarry in the woods, that is now a caravan park", replied Allen, showing off his knowledge.

Tetley then added, "there was also a tramway to bring the stone in wagons to a wharf, just a little further along, and although from this side you cannot see it, there is amongst those bushes what remains of the loading crane."

"We saw that when we did a variation of this walk in February 2006, and Dad took a picture", added Shaun.

Passing under the railway bridge, we soon walked over the Keer Aqueduct that is a single span 43 feet long, carrying the canal 35 feet above the River Keer. The Engineer was John Rennie, and it was first used in 1797.

At the next bridge, we left the canal towpath, and walked ahead to then take a track right towards the impressive Keer Viaduct, that carries the Carnforth to Skipton railway line across a small valley and the River Keer. This was another chance for Dad to get a decent picture of this, so a detour was made over a stile into the adjacent field to get the right angle for the shot. Uncle Eric is a railway enthusiast so is very experienced in photographing such structures, so advised Dad to walk past it and take an angled shot. Good advice too. We have been unable to find out any detailed information about the viaduct, except to say that it has ten arches, the seventh one from the left spanning the River Keer.

Returning to the track we headed down towards the viaduct. This was completely new ground for us all, and along the lane we reached the River Keer that is crossed by a superb medieval packhorse bridge. It is a quite magical place with the tall arches of the viaduct overshadowing both the bridge and the river. If ever a location cried out to be photographed!

We include this second shot that dwells solely on the bridge and shows how graceful the span is.

Our path lay over the bridge, and we could only wonder how many people over the centuries must have walked over it. Continuing on the good track, we eventually went right at a junction to come in a circle to Borwick Hall Bridge, once again. The canal towpath was joined here and followed north to Tewitfield. Continuing on the bridge theme, we liked this shot that Dad took of bridge number 136, framing bridge number 137.

We can only thank Uncle Eric and Dad, yet again, for taking us on a most fascinating walk of discovery. By now Dad and Uncle Eric were hungry so they went to the nearby Greenlands Farm Village, to lunch at the Wellies Cafe. They each had a delicious sandwich and Dad had soup too. Dad had been before, but it was Uncle Eric's first visit. He was impressed and said he will certainly be back! It is a place that can be thoroughly recommended. Lunch was followed by a visit to the farmshop where Uncle Eric bought some produce,. Time for home now and saying our goodbyes, we went our separate ways.

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