Date - 15th December 2013 Distance - 6.75 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL7 Start point - Force Bridge (SD 5071 8686)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
The Helm 600 185 SD 5307 8873



Little Eric was tapping a way at the iPad, Allen asking, "what are you looking at pal?"

"The list of walks, this year and in particular those over the last month. They have been very varied. The climb to Souther Fell, the Colwith and Skelwith area of Lakeland, and the lovely walk from Ingleton to Masongill and Kingsdale, only yesterday."

Tetley strolled in then, and said, "the next one will be this weekend, Dad has told me, so we had better get our thinking caps on about where to go."

"I'll check the weather to see which day will be best", replied Little Eric. Then after a few moments, "hmm, it will have to be Sunday, as Saturday is going to be another of those very stormy and wet days."

"I need tea, to get my brain going!", exclaimed Allen.

"Your wish is our command", called out Shaun, as he and Grizzly arrived with the flasks and cakes.

"There are sultana scones, and some mincemeat slice that Little Eric has made", Grizzly explained.

"Mmm delicious", cried Allen, dashing off to get the mugs and plates.

Soon we were all settled with steaming mugs in paw, and our thoughts turned to deciding on the weekend walk.

"Perhaps it would be nice to stay a bit local, and save Dad having to drive too far?" suggested Tetley.

"Good idea", agreed Shaun. "We should find some inspiration amongst the walks in the binders on the shelf. Give me a hand Allen, to lift them down."

"OK pal."

Finding the index, we started scanning down. After a few pages, Grizzly, pointed saying, "what about this one from Force Bridge near Sedgwick."

The sheet was soon found, Allen saying, "Dad has done it but that was 1990, long before any of us were even adopted, never mind accompanying Dad on the walks. So it will be completely new to us, and after all this time I feel sure that Dad will be happy to repeat it. Just let me finish my tea and I will go and ask. By the way the scones and cake were absolutely scrumptious, thanks pals."

Looking more closely, Shaun said, "whilst as you say none of us have done this particular walk, the latter parts along past the suspension bridge, we have walked in the opposite direction, and on a different walk Tetley and I have summited The Helm."

Taking the sheet, Allen went off to see what Dad thought. Not many minutes later Allen returned a smile wreathing his face, so it was plain that Dad had agreed. "I told Dad about the weather and it will indeed be Sunday when we walk. After all the years, he said that he can remember little of the walk apart from the section up to and over the Helm."

"Great", cheered Little Eric. "Roll on Sunday."


The Walk

A predicted Saturday was indeed very wet and stormy, but today we awoke up to find it dry if a little cool and breezy. The start at Force Bridge, is just a little way along the road to Sedgwick, where there was plenty of space to park at the road side.

Looking about, Shaun said, "we have come along the road ahead which is a dead end, the footpath continuing under the bridge that carries the link road from the M6."

Force Bridge spans the River Kent. It is a short river, running for about 20 miles, originating in the hills above the Kentmere Valley and flowing through Kendal and past Arnside into Morecambe Bay. At the point near Force Bridge it passes through a rocky gorge which produces a number of low waterfalls. This section is popular with kayakers, and indeed we saw some considering this today. However they drove off, because the river was flowing too strongly, as can be seen in this picture Dad took.

"Which way?", asked Little Eric.

Shaun was quick to reply, "we cross the river, then take the gap stile opposite."

The signpost read, 'Public Footpath Stainton and Canal Towpath'. There was no doubt about the path that trended a bit to the right across the field to a kissing gate on to a road. This we crossed, to then take the kissing gate directly opposite, the path climbing the field beyond.

There were sheep in this field, and one decided to pose for Dad. "Darn", said Allen in exasperation, "there goes a sheep picture free story yet again."

"We cross the canal bridge", advised Shaun.

This section of the Lancaster Canal has been drained for many years, and Tetley remarked, "the bridge looks so odd marooned in the middle of the field."

Grizzly added, "we have walked under it too, on the walk that took us along the course of the drained section from near Hawes Bridge to Sedgwick."

Beyond the path went to the left of a scattered group of trees, to then descend, and via a kissing gate on to Well Heads Lane.

As can be seen, we then climbed the stile opposite and ascended to another stile at the top right by the hedge corner, and onward down to the main West Coast railway line, that we were to cross utilising the footbridge.

As we came to access path to the bridge, Dad said, "the footbridge did not exist when I did this walk in 1990. But, with the advent of the very fast trains it was no longer safe to use the foot crossing over the track. Look Lads, you can see the steps that led down to the track side and where the foot crossing was."

Now the path goes left between fences, over the bridge and then right to the stile into a field. As we made our way to this a Transpennine Express train came hurtling by, heading north, the slight blur of the picture giving some idea of the speed.

"I can see why the footbridge had to be built, as the means of crossing the line!", remarked Allen.

Shaun read the instructions for the next part of the route. "It is through the gate in the wall on the opposite side of the field, and then through a gate in the fence on the left."

There was no problem with this, but taking stock we noted that since the walk was published there has in fact been a change to the route. It is now via a stile in the fence to the left of the first field, to then climb the ladderstile over the wall on the right, to get to the same place.

Walking on, with the wall on the right, we reached a ladderstile. Dad climbed up, to then exclaim, "humph, the descent is going to be a bit awkward, as the rungs have completely rotted and fallen off!"

A little inelegantly Dad got safely down, Little Eric saying firmly, "it is about time someone came and repaired the stile."

Then on to another stile near Crosscrake school, and round the buildings to come to a gap stile and steps down to the road.

"Which way now, Shaun?, asked Grizzly.

"Left to the road junction and then right to pass Crosscrake Church."

There was a service on, and Allen remarked, "it looks like the service is well attended, judging by the number of cars in the car park."

Dedicated to St Thomas, this Anglican church was built in 1874–75, to a design by the Lancaster architects Paley & Austin, at a cost of about £3000 (£240,000 as of 2014), replacing an earlier church of 1773. There was originally a tower, but due to structural failure, this was reduced in 1944, and then removed completely in 1963. A shallow transept was made to disguise this, and a spirelet was added.

Coming to a fork, Shaun called out, "we keep right and continue to the A65 main road."

Crossing this with care, Shaun then instructed, "we go right, then almost immediately take the narrow road left, signed Millbridge Lane."

To the right this pleasing stream was flowing placidly. "Judging from the name, I think that long ago this could well have served as a mill race, for one of the many water powered mills that were common all over this area", mused Tetley.

The road led us past some houses, to then as instructed by Shaun, take the left fork. Soon we reached some more houses, where it was left along a gravel track that soon swung right to a gate into a field, where ahead there was a fine view of The Helm, our modest summit objective for today.

Walked to the far side, where it was left through a gate. "The ground has been pretty wet and muddy all the way, but wow this really is a quagmire", said Little Eric.

Dad paddled over this to a gap crossing the flat bridge over the hurrying stream.

The little stone bridge leads to a stile through the hedge, but frankly Dad was glad to be able to avoid this due to the quagmire, and because the hedge having grown out, it would have been difficult to get over, and quite impossible in summer.

"So I guess we are heading for the buildings on the far side of the field?" said Tetley.

"Yes pal", agreed Shaun. "They are unsurprisingly called Helm End Farm."

Dad climbed the stile in the wall, then we walked up the long drive to the road, where Shaun said, " we cross and take the track ahead."

This soon led to a gate, beyond which immediately right a narrow path took us up the short steep ascent to the The Helm. The ascent levels for a little way, followed by a final climb of about 100ft to the trig point.

"It is a bit windy, but a reckon we will be able to hang in for our picture sitting on the trig point", called out Allen, as with the rest of us he scrambled out of the rucksack.

Climbing down, Allen rubbed his tummy and said, "I'm hungry."

"So I am, come to think of it", replied Dad.

We found a convenient place to sit and happily munched away at the ham and chutney and cheese and pickle sandwiches. This was followed by some chocolate caramel shortbread, which our pal Grizzly had made, and all was washed down with warming tea.

"Is that Kendal we can see, where Uncle Eric lives?", asked Little Eric.

"Yes, lad", replied Dad. "I worked there for about 13 years before I got early retirement. Oxenholme is in the immediate foreground, through which the railway line we crossed earlier runs."

As Allen stowed the remains of the picnic in his rucksack, Shaun said, "we walk on along the ridge, until the wall turns away right, where we take the path descending left to the narrow road we can see below."

It was a pleasant stroll on the undulating ridge, and after a while, Tetley called out, "here's where to wall turns away, and just a little further is the descent path on the left."

Reaching the road, we went left to its end joining at the main A65. "We just cross and take the side road to Natland", called out Shaun.

The road led us under the railway, and then on to pass High House Farm. Here Shaun once again gave us directions, "just after the next buildings, we need to take the footpath going left."

Shortly, Allen called out, "here's the signpost."

"We want the direction to Barrows Green", advised Shaun.

A gated gap stile allowed progress, to the next stile just to the left of the bungalow.

Beyond the next stile, the path led over the field to the road. "We go right then immediately left along the track, then taking the left fork", called out Shaun.

This brought us to Cracult House, where the route was left along a grassy track to a gate and so on over the pasture, to join the access to the buildings of Larkrigg.

"Right, we follow this, but then take the fork going off left, to once again cross the drained canal bed via Larkrigg Hall Bridge", instructed Shaun.

Immediately over the bridge the path went left dropping to a gate on to a hedged track, following this all the way to another gate into open pasture and now once again beside the rushing River Kent.

"We have been along this section before", said Grizzly. "We will soon come to the suspension bridge."

"That's right", agreed Shaun, "but this time we do not cross it, instead we keep on ahead through Wilson Place and so to the Sedgwick road, where we turn right, to come back to Force Bridge."

And here is the River Kent rushing under the bridge.

As we settled in the car, Tetley said , "I guess you are going to find some refreshment now?"

"You guess right", Dad replied. "Low Sizergh Barn is very close so I will try there first."

In the event, from the number of cars, Dad decided that the cafe would be packed out, so instead, he drove on to Beetham Garden Centre, where he had piece of tiffin and a warming pot of tea with extra hot water.

Returning to the car afterwards, he commented, "phew the cafe was very busy and noisy, I was glad to finish and get out."

As he pulled out of the car park, Little Eric said on behalf of us all, "thanks as always Dad for a lovely walk."


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