HALE FELL, SLACK HEAD, HAZELSLACK & BEETHAM FELL

 


Summary

Date - 14th January 2015 Distance - 6.5 miles
Ascent -
850ft
Map - OL7 Start point - Heron Corn Mill car park, Beetham (SD 4957 7944)

 

Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk

 

Preface

Tetley was reading one of the Wainwright books, while Little Eric and Southey were looking over Allen's shoulder as he tapped away on the laptop.

"The weather looks to be good for tomorrow, so the walk with Uncle Eric should be on", said Southey gleefully.

Allen then navigated to the folder with the pictures from the walk last week, and they all peered closely at them. "Dad has got the editing done, and certainly there are enough for a story", said Little Eric.

"That's right", agreed Allen, "but with one thing and another, Dad is very busy, so we will just have to be patient until he has the time to type it up for us."

Looking up Tetley said, "here comes Shaun and Grizzly, with the tea and cakes."

"Ooh great", replied Southey. "I'm hungry", he went on rubbing his tummy in anticipation.

Meanwhile Allen and Tetley went and got the mugs and plates, and then helped Shaun pour the tea. "Thanks pals", he said.

In answer to Southey's enquiring look, Grizzly said, "I have not had time to make any cake myself, but Little Eric has saved the day having made chocolate caramel shortbread."

"Ooh my favourite", responded Allen, taking a piece from the tin. Then taking a bite he said, "mmm, it's delicious pal. Thanks for making it."

"You're welcome", replied Little Eric.

There were murmurs of content from the rest of us too.

"So then", said Shaun, "we need to think about where to walk tomorrow."

Just then Dad walked in. "No lad, the decision has already been made. Uncle Eric phoned early today, as he is out this evening, so I had to come up with and idea on the spur of the moment. What has been decided is to do another of the walks from the Arnside and Silverdale book, starting from Beetham village and crossing Hale Fell, then circling round and returning over Beetham Fell."

"That sounds great", replied Allen.

"Roll on tomorrow", cheered Southey.

 

The Walk

Wednesday dawned and with the hail stones overnight the car was white over, but thankfully it did not take Dad as long to clear it off and defrost as the last time. As soon as Dad was ready we dashed out to the car, calling goodbye to Uncle Brian.

Where are we meeting Uncle Eric?", asked Grizzly.

"At the car park for the Heron Corn Mill", replied Dad.

As we drove north, by the time we got to Carnforth there had been no hail or snow whatsoever. "Strange how localised the weather is in this country", said Southey.

For once we were first to arrive, Dad finding that the car park was slippery with ice as he nearly fell over when he got out of the car. Uncle Eric arrived within a few minutes, and Dad warned him about the ice.

"Oh", he said. "I am used to that as there had been both snow and ice in Kendal."

Overall the day was to be dry but with a strong cold wind, but this did not bother us, as the walk was mostly through woodland.

They were soon ready and we had got settled in Dad's rucksack. Setting off we took the footpath behind the paper mill to the road and then into the village by the Wheatsheaf Hotel.

"It would be nice to get a picture of the church", said Tetley, "to start the story off."

It was just a few yards down the street beside the hotel to get a good vantage point.

The church is dedicated to St Michael and is a Grade 1 listed building. It is possible that the oldest existing part of the church, the lower part of the tower, dates from the Anglo-Saxon era The lower stage of the tower contains a west doorway dating from the 14th century, above which is a two-light window . The upper stage built in the 16th century is slightly corbelled-out and contains three-light bell openings. At the top is a battlemented parapet with crocketted pinnacles and a 20th-century weather vane. The south aisle was added in about 1200, and the chancel was extended during the 13th century. In the following century the Beetham chapel was added, and the south aisle was widened in the 15th century. In the 1870s the church was restored and a south porch was added. The east end window is from the 19th century, but others date from the 14th and 15th centuries all in the Perpendicular style.

Returning to the junction it was right, then very shortly left towards the Heron Theatre.

"What we need to do now it take the signed path on the right beside the houses", instructed Shaun.

A short path then led us into a large pasture, which we crossed, taking a line to the right of Beetham Hall Farm with its ruined Pele tower. Farleton Fell forms the backdrop.

The remains of the 14th century fortified manor are quite extensive, and from this viewpoint also include the roofed building behind the ruined tower. The tower itself was probably three storeys tall. There is also a section of the curtain wall that is up to a metre thick in places with loop holes throughout. The hall has been in ruins ever since it was taken from the Royalists by Thomas Fairfax in 1644.

At the end of the pasture it was through the gap stile in the wall, to then continue across the next pasture, and so coming to the first houses of the village of Hale.

"We now climb right up the wide track", said Shaun.

Negotiating the stile this then brought us to a junction with a path from Hale,. Here going right, the path led through the woods following the clear waymarks and to this three-armed signpost.

"The path we must take is that signed Slack Head via Marble Quarry", said Shaun firmly.

This soon led to a divide in the paths where the waymarks pointed to the right fork, which climbed up to come to another junction. Tetley was looking over Shaun's shoulder and said, "hmm the instructions are a little confusing here. The waymarks indicate that the route is straight on but the book refers to turning right until reaching a sign by a gateway reading 'private'."

Well what we did was go right but after a little way clearly this was not the path we wanted, so we turned back to the junction at the gateway. "Look there is a board here, but whatever sign was on it has long gone, but I bet this once read private", said Dad.

"Ahh", said Shaun it suddenly dawning where we had gone wrong. "At the divide in paths if we had taken the left fork, the right turn would then have brought us to this gateway and the instructions to now turn left would have made sense."

So this mystery cleared up, we took the waymarked route that climbed up the at first rocky path on Hale Fell, eventually going left as directed by a waymark. This soon brought us to three sections of limestone pavement that we had to cross. The picture below shows the first. Distantly on the hillside can be seen the houses at Slack Head that was our destination at the end of this part of the walk.

"We had better take care over here, as it may be slippery after the frost last night", said Uncle Eric.

Coming to the last section we could clearly see that in the past a layer of limestone had been removed.

"This is the site of at least one part of Marble Quarry", said Allen, who then reading on from the book said, "limestone was a popular substitute for marble in Victorian times, for its attractive clouded appearance when cut and polished."

Beyond this last section of limestone pavement, the path led left through the woods and out on to the road. "We go right to Slack Head", said Shaun.

Coming to a junction the route was left along Leighton Bridge Road, if our memory serves us correctly. Beside this are many properties in their own grounds.

"Well I have never been along here", said Uncle Eric, "nor did I realise there were so many large and expensive houses."

"This is completely new to me too", replied Dad.

After a while the road descended and Shaun said, "we are looking for a bridleway on the right."

"Here it is", called out Little Eric.

The walled track was quite wide and after all the rains was pretty muddy in places. On its right side were woods, but to the left there were views across the open pastures. "That's Arnside Knott, where we were last week", called out Southey.

At its end we arrived at Hazelslack Farm, where in its grounds stands the ruins of Hazelslack Tower.

Tetley called out, "if you take pictures of the tower from different angles, we will be able to use one in this walk and the other in the story from last year, when your camera went faulty and prevented us getting a shot that day."

"Good idea", agreed Dad.

The picture above shows the south east sides. It probably dates from the late 14th century and was reputedly built by Lucy, Margaret and Katherine de Thweng. The building was originally divided into a South and North half. The North half had a tunnel-vaulted ground room. The staircase was in the South half. Originally a building was attached to it on the East side, and a diagonal line can be seen high up, of the eaves of this. On this same side, behind the tree, the small original doorway with a pointed head, can just about be seen.

"OK", said Shaun. "We now walk along the road to then soon take the path going off to the right."

"Oh yes, I remember that", said Grizzly. "It is the same route we took last year. There is a short track, but we go off to the left and climb the stile in the wall and then walk on over the pastures with Longthroughs Wood on the left."

An intervening wall was surmounted via a stile and then the path drifted right to the opposite side of the field, to at its end negotiate the very boggy ground to a gap stile. "This part is just as boggy as last year. I wonder if it ever dries out", mused Allen.

Beyond, a wide track led through the wood, and then in pasture again the path was followed to a stile, beyond which is Cockshot Lane. It was here that we saw the only other walkers today, a couple walking along the road.

"If you jump out, I will take your picture, sitting by the stile", said Dad.

We did not need a second asking, Little Eric calling out, "great, we have to appear at least once in every story.

Unlike last time, our route today was not through the stile, but rather we crossed right to and through a gate onto a narrow path that led to wide track. Here going right, this was followed as it climbed steadily Beetham Fell. At one point we briefly spotted a fox on the path ahead. As the gradient levelled a cairn was reached with path directions on top. Beetham was on ahead.

Arriving at the next signpost, Southey said, "look there is a spelling mistake relating to the Fairy Steps.

"The person who made it must have been thinking of the aircraft and engineering company", replied Dad, with a laugh.

Now clearly the Beetham direction was half left and waymarked too, from the direction we had come, but despite this Uncle Eric thought we should instead keep ahead. "I really do not think this is right", said Shaun, "but I will bow to your knowledge."

The track descended to a junction, near where Dad paused to take this woodland plant that is common in limestone areas.

Keeping on ahead, soon, to our surprise, arrived at the Fairy Steps. This is a narrow cleft in a limestone cliff, highly polished by the many many people who have made the descent.

"I've been down here a few times over the years", said Dad. "However not today as that would take us back to Hazelslack again."

"I'm so sorry", said Uncle Eric, contritely, "I have led you all astray."

"It's alright", replied Allen. "I am sure backtracking to the junction and taking the right fork we will soon get on route again.

Doing this soon brought us to a four-way junction. Looking left Shaun said, "I am sure that if we had followed that waymarked path half left signed Beetham we would have come down that slope and arrived at this point."

"Yes", conceded Uncle Eric, "you are correct."

Reading the guide book Allen said, "we are on route 15 and should go right bringing us to the road and then a walk on this to Beetham. However if we go ahead, taking the route of walk 14, we will avoid the road and the paths will take us to the car park at the Corn Mill."

"We'll to that then", agreed Dad.

This lovely path took us through the woods at one point passing this very ruined house. "Ha", laughed Dad. "I have been past that a few times."

Dropping down below this the path led to a stile into a field that we crossed to a minor road. "We need to turn left, then look for a signed bridleway on the right", called out Shaun.

Passing a house, Little Eric said, "look at the sign on the gate. They want to keep the rabbits out and stop them eating the flowers in their garden."

Shortly now we came to the bridleway that took us directly to the car park with the Corn Mill beyond.

"Lovely", said Southey. "I have really enjoyed the day."

We now settled in the car and had our picnic with warming mugs of tea.

Dad and Uncle Eric drove to Beetham Garden Centre for a snack at the cafe. They both had delicious bowls of soup. Uncle Eric had pea and ham and Dad carrot and coriander, each with a brown roll. Dad also had a pot of tea. He admitted to having a few Saga moments. First he did not notice that the soup spoon had been put on the plate until the assistant pointed it out. Then he forgot to get a knife, and finally before eating his meal, had to dash to the car and get the iPad he had forgotten to take with him.

"What are you like", laughed Tetley as he related all this to us on the way home, to shatter Uncle Brian's peace!

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