CROOKLANDS & GATEBECK

 


Summary

Date - 4th November 2012 & (4th February 2015 with Uncle Eric) Distance - 8.5 miles
Ascent - 630ft
Map - OL7 Start point - Lay by on A65 at Millness

 

Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk

 

Preface

Having had a nice soup and sandwich for lunch, Allen, Tetley and Grizzly, were sitting quietly reading.

"I'll have the Cumbria magazine, after you have finished with it Allen", said Grizzly looking up from his Lake District magazine..

"OK pal", he replied. "What are you reading Tetley?"

"The Dalesman. I like to keep up with what is happening in Yorkshire, even though we do not get to walk there as often now."

It was then that Shaun and Little Eric trotted in. "We have brought tea to round off lunch", said Little Eric brightly.

"Ooh great!", cried Allen, I'm....

"Gasping", interjected Grizzly, rolling around in fits of laughter.

"We know what an absolute tea belly you are, just like Dad", added Tetley.

"I know that Dad and Uncle Brian are going to the concert in Kendal that they are part sponsoring on Saturday night, but he has said that we can walk on Sunday. That of course will be dependant on the weather", said Shaun, between mouthfuls of tea.

"I'll check now", replied Allen, draining his mug and grabbing the iPad. Just a few taps later, a smile lit up his face, as he said, "it's going to be dry and sunny but rather cold."

"Super", exclaimed Little Eric. "So where are we going?"

"I suggest we look at the walks Dad saved from the newspapers and see what we can come up with", said Shaun, lifting the binder down with Tetley's help.

Pawing through the pages, Grizzly suddenly said, "this one looks a possibility. Dad gave it a good comment when he did it in 1989, which was also long before any of us were adopted."

After reading it through, Allen said, "well it gets my vote."

"Yes", agreed Shaun and Tetley.

"Right", replied Allen, grabbing the page, "I'll go and see what Dad has to say."

"Can I come too", called out Little Eric.

"Sure pal. Come on."

"Fill his mug up, Shaun", said Tetley. "He's bound to want more tea."

In just a few minutes they were back, and accepting the steaming mug with thanks, Allen said, "it's on. Being so long ago Dad says he has little recollection, other than it was a wet day by the end of the walk."


February 2015

Dad suggested doing this walk to Uncle Eric, who readily agreed.

"That's great", said Tetley, "we have wanted to repeat it so we can investigate the Quaker Burial Ground near Summerlands."

"It will mean we can include some extra pictures of this and also about the big house at Summerlands, if Dad can get a good shot", added Allen.

What we did not realise was that thanks to Uncle Eric's extensive knowledge of the industrial past in this area, we would learn about gunpowder.

 

The Walk

The start is on the A65 near Crooklands, just before the motorway bridge, where there is a large layby on the left. So a quick run up the M6 to junction 36, and going right then left at the next island, we were there. Soon ready and us settled in Dad's rucksack, off we went walking under the motorway to then join the towpath of the Lancaster Canal.

The canal ran along the back of the parking area, but we could not join it there, as it is cut in two by the M6 at this point. A new bridge will have to be built, if the project to reopen the northern reaches, ever comes to fruition. Immediately beyond the basin is Millness Bridge, making a lovely reflection, on this still sunny cold morning. A perfect day for walking.

Dad slid about as we walked on along the very muddy towpath. Two runners were coming in the opposite direction, and bizarrely it was Jacqui & Brian, who Dad had seen only last night at the Northern Sinfonia concert in Kendal. Prior to this Dad had not seen Jacqui since he retired from AXA in 2001, and in those last days at Lytham she had sat just behind him! What an amazing coincidence that he should see them again this morning. Stopping to chat, they told him that they had thoroughly enjoyed the concert, so it is probable that Dad will see them at others in the future.

Looking at the map, Shaun instructed, "we walk along beside the canal to the third bridge, called Old Hall Bridge."

"Right", replied Dad, setting striding on carefully.

In a little while we came to the next bridge. "This is Crooklands Bridge", remarked Shaun.

"Another wonderful reflection", added Allen. "Must be worth a picture Dad."

Note too, the stone structure on the left side just before the bridge. In 2012 we had not given this a second thought, but it took on greater significance when on the day with Uncle Eric, he said, "that was one of the abutments for a girder bridge that crossed the canal.

This carried the horse tramway from W.H. Wakefield's Gatebeck Gunpowder Works to Milnthorpe. The 3ft 6in-4ft gauge tramway ran for three and a half miles down the Peasey Beck and the beside the Milnthorpe road to Milnthorpe station. There were intermediate branches to coal and timber wharves on the Lancaster Canal, and indeed just beyond the bridge was the site of Wakefield's Wharf, where the towpath widened out for a short section.

Gatebeck Gunpowder Works opened in 1852 and was one of the most important in England. It provided gunpowder for many of the mines and quarries of Northern England and Wales and exported to West African colonies and India. The output was about 20 tons per week and at least one hundred people were employed.

John Wakefield started producing gunpowder at Sedgwick in 1764 and other mills followed, before they moved their main factory to Gatebeck. The total area of land developed was about 70 acres, and the first sites used are now occupied by the Gatebeck Caravan Park and Millbrook Caravan Park. Several mills were built on both sides of the beck with an extensive internal tramway network. The mills used water power from Peasey Beck that also supplied water for the steam engines.

The gunpowder was packed into wooden barrels containing a maximum of 100lbs. The barrels were made at Gatebeck Cooperage. From 1874 it was moved in closed horsedrawn wagons via the tramway along the Peasey Beck, past Challon Hall Farm to the A65 at Crooklands Garage and so to Milnthorpe station. The horses wore brass shoes to avoid the risk of sparks. The Gatebeck factory was the last gunpowder works in Westmorland closing in 1937.

We acknowledge that this information is taken from a page donated by Colin Redmayne contained in the book 'A journey through Endmoor in times gone by'.

Strolling on Grizzly, called out, "look there's a family of swans. The cygnets are still at the 'ugly duckling' stage."

As Dad snapped this picture, the male swam towards him, in a protective manner.

It was not too long now before we arrived at Old Hall Bridge, where we left the canal. We paused as we crossed the bridge, for Dad to take the view on along the canal.

The route led up a field, which was very very soft as in fact were all the fields after the wet wet summer. This made for harder going on what was really an easy walk, as Dad's feet were constantly sinking into the ground. Reaching the buildings of Carter House and Old Hall the path became walled. Here we came upon a sheep dog, who brought a stick then lay down waiting for Dad to throw it.

Grizzly called out, "if you do it you will not get rid of him."

"I know, but just a little way along the road, we cross a step stile, and so he may well turn back to there", replied Dad.

Well here is the stone step stile, which the dog just leapt over, so blowing Dad's theory out of the water!

So onwards up this next field the game continued. Dad hurling the stick as far as he could, to be retrieved by the dog who placed it on the ground, then lay down in anticipation of the next throw. As Dad picked the stick up, the dog leapt up watching, eager to run off in pursuit. This scenario happened a number of times. Here is Dad's playmate!!

At the next gate the dog slid underneath, and then stopped waiting for Dad to come through. However he stopped to have a drink and take off his coat, so the dog appeared to lose interest, and actually disappeared altogether at the next group of buildings, Stubbs Farm, which is perhaps where he lives.

"Do you know, I reckon you are not the first walker, that dog has done that to", said Tetley.

"I think you are probably right", replied Dad with a laugh.

A walled path led through the farm, and on the day with Uncle Eric, we saw the farmers and they had a chat to them. On saying that the route went to Summerlands the farmer commented about the cottage by the drive to the big house.

He said, "it is known as Ivy Cottage, as in the summer the wall and even the windows are completely covered in ivy!"

"That is not good for the building", replied Uncle Eric.

"No", he agreed.

Then we walked on to pass the farmhouse where there was this double sided clock hanging over the door.

"What a clever clock, showing different times on either side", remarked Grizzly.

"Neither of which are right", went on Little Eric.

"I wonder if we are crossing a time zone here", mused Allen.

At the end of the yard, Shaun said, "our route is to Row End, via the stile in the wall by the signpost."

As we climbed over, Tetley said, "I like that sign on the other side of the track."

Keeping by the wall to the left the large field was crossed. Straight at first the boundary wall then turned right and then left to a cross wall, where Dad had to squeeze through the narrow stile near the building of Lorrimer Yeat.

Beyond we crossed the access track, and then over another stile into a field and on to a gate on to a walled path, along which was a seat donated by Mace Taxis in 2006, as the attached plaque attested, and had the words 'Enjoy The View' in addition.

"Right", said Shaun, "let's do that!"

Dad snapped our picture, and repeating the walk in 2015 we again sat to enjoy the view and have our picture taken. This is the one included below for our pal Southey's sake.

And here's the view. From the left Walna Scar, Dow Crag, Coniston Old Man, Brim Fell, Swirl How with Grey Friar tucked behind to its right, Wetherlam, Crinkle Crags & Bowfell.

And round further to the right, this of Red Screes, Stony Cove Pike and the Kentmere Fells.

"Where now?", asked Little Eric.

"We follow this path to the road at Row End, then go left for a few yards to go on ahead between a house and garage, then across a field to Summerlands, where it is right to the main A65", instructed Shaun.

"Thanks Lad", replied Dad.

There was no problem with this part of the walk, apart from the fact that the field to Summerlands was exceedingly soggy. Boot sucking at times!

As we crossed we could see ahead a large house, and Tetley said, "I wonder what the history of that is?"

Well, thanks to Uncle Eric and feedback received from David Macauley of Maidenhead we can tell you. The large Victorian mansion of Summerlands House was built in 1846 as a private home for the Harrison family. With the house was about 8 acres of gardens, a lodge, coach house, stables, kennels etc., and about 40 acres of parkland. In the late 19th century it was extended under the ownership of the Radcliffe family. At the start of World War 2 it was bought by The Liverpool Seamen's Welfare Council and used as a rest centre for sick seamen of the Merchant and Fishing Fleets. Later the outbuildings were developed into a rehabilitation centre and subsequently into a modern furniture factory, giving employment to disabled seamen and local people. The village was built between 1946 and 1952 providing accommodation for the ex-seamen and their families and other workshop personnel. It is now owned by the District Council and private owners. David Macauley tells us that he grew up in Summerlands where his father was in the 1950's the General Manager at the large house. The rest centre closed in July 1977 and Summerlands House was sold to a property developer and converted into three separate private dwellings. The furniture factory went into liquidation in 1981, but the site is now an industrial estate with a number of businesses.

At the A65 we turned left, and Shaun said, "we next need to look for a path off right, which should be signed to Low Park Lane."

The bridleway, a wide path led through pretty woodland, leaf strewn at this time of year.

"We need to look for a stile in the wall on the left to get on to the pasture", said Shaun.

We kept our eyes peeled, and then Allen called out, "there it is."

Over this, we kept beside the wall and skirted left round an area enclosed by a stone wall, that according to the map was a burial ground, although peering over we could not see any sign of graves.

Once again thanks to David Macaulay, we are now able to shed more light on this. He tells us that as a boy he regularly walked along this path and over the stile past the burial ground with his black labrador. The burial ground was a Quaker graveyard, and when he took the walks the gravestones were quite clear. Also that they were very old. He suggests if we repeat the walk, scratching the ground to reveal them again. Well, we will certainly bear this in mind, should we do.

On the day with Uncle Eric, when the shot above was taken, we went to explore the burial ground. All the graves are covered by grass, with the exception of this one. It marks the burial place of Anne Garnett and although not entirely clear is looks like she died in the 1790s. Next to it was half of another gravestone with two dates from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Now with the wall to the right we continued to pass through a gate into a track that led finally to Birkrigg Park, where we walked through the stables to the road.

"We go left here, and then soon right on a path that will be signed Homescales", instructed Shaun.

This was a clear path, with away to the right a small tarn, the bright sunlight reflecting off the water.

At the end we came to a gate and then went on over a field, to cross the footbridge over the Peasey Beck, and then another field to a road.

"It's right here", said Shaun.

The road went round a wide 'S' bend, crossing Fallbeck Bridge, and then on to come to the entrance to Low Bracken Hall, where Shaun said, "we go left along the access track."

Beyond the buildings the route was clearly waymarked through a gate, and then the path curved right over the beck and on up left. So very very muddy here, that Dad burst out laughing at trying to make progress on the rough soft ground. The way seemed to be on up, but we were met with a substantial stone wall with no apparent way over.

"Oh bother!, exclaimed Little Eric, "whatever are we going to do."

"We need to get to the narrow road on the other side of these buildings ahead", said Shaun, consulting the map.

Looking right Dad said, "there seems to be a way out through that paddock, so we will give it a try."

He scrambled over the intervening wall that was partly broken down, then through the paddock, a ladderstile on the far side led into a yard behind a building and so out to the road.

A lady was washing her car and Dad asked here about this part of the route.

She replied, "it is not very clear at all, and many walkers have problems here."

It was clear now that we needed to go left uphill towards High Bracken Hall. As we got to the entrance Shaun said, "we have gone too far Dad."

Turning round he walked back, and we spotted the signpost on the right now, where we should have come out to the road.

On the day with Uncle Eric the mystery of this part of the route was solved. By after crossing the beck then keeping by the wall on the right the path went between two walls to a gate with beyond waymarks. Going right it was through gap in an electric fence with a string across and then immediately left to a stile over a wall into woodland, the path winding through this and coming out onto the road by the signpost.

Just a little way right we reached the house called Mount Pleasant. Here walked through the yard and then over the clearly waymarked stile into the field beyond. Crossed this to the gate at the top, where it was right along by the wall, drifting slightly left to take stile in the cross wall and so down to climb a ladderstile and on to reach a road.

"Right here, and soon then left", called out Shaun.

This latter path was grassy and soft and muddy, and led over a beck, and then swung right to exit on to another road.

"It's left here on the road to the building of Ivy Garth, where we take the path opposite", advised Shaun.

At the far end of the field we crossed the stream, went through a gate then walked left over more fields to Challon Hall and then through the buildings to the road.

"I thought you would have had a good dry path along to Challon Hall, but no such luck", remarked Allen.

"Well I commented that it was a wet and muddy walk, when I did it in 1989, and this year we have had so much rain, so I must not complain", replied Dad wryly.

It was now right over the bridge, to then take the track left that follows the course of the Peasey Beck to Crooklands, the route inevitably being soft and muddy.

As we walked through one of the fields on the day with Uncle Eric he pointed, saying, "that low embankment running past the prominent tree looks like it may well have carried part of the tramway."

Whist we cannot be certain, we do think he is probably right.

Now on the A65 again, we turned left, to walk past the Crooklands Hotel and on towards the start. On the opposite side of the road is the coal yard. On reading the information board at the site of Wakefield's Wharf, we had learnt that a small section of the tramway rail was still visible at the entrance to the coal yard.

High on the hill to the left stands the pretty Preston Patrick Church.

While a little further on the right was the Memorial Hall. We include this picture, only for the fact that long ago this was one of the venues where Dad gave his Teddy Talk.

Soon now we passed under the motorway bridge once again, and reached the lay-by and the car.

"Thanks for a nice walk, Dad", said Tetley on behalf of us all.

"You're welcome my Lads. Time for some refreshment now. I am going to Sheila's Cafe in Bob Parratt's at Milnthorpe again."

Here Dad had a pot of tea and delicious lemon meringue pie, and suitably refreshed, he drive us home.

We also want to say a big thank you to Uncle Eric, first for his company as always, and secondly for the fascinating information he was able to give us about the industrial past in this area.

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