LEVENS PARK, RIVER KENT & LANCASTER CANAL

 


Summary

Date - 13th May 2020, 5th March 2021, 14th August 2021 & 11th February 2022
Distance - 7 miles (6.75 miles - March 2021 & Feb 2022)

Ascent -
600ft
Map - OL7 Start point - Levens Bridge (SD 4960 8539)

 

Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk

 

Preface

The tea and cakes had arrived.

"Ooh great", cheered Allen, "I was gasping for a cuppa."

"No surprise there, tea belly", replied Grizzly. "And I guess you and Southey are going to live up to your other reputation as cake stuffers."

"Rather", stated Southey. "What are the cakes today, pal?"

"I have made mincemeat slice", Grizzly replied

"And I remembered that you all liked the blueberry slice, so that is my offering", said Little Eric.

"Yummy", said Tetley, helping himself to a piece of each.

"Careful", laughed Grizzly, "or you'll get the same reputation as Allen and Southey."

There were murmurs of approval, Shaun speaking for us all when he said, "they are both delicious. Thank you as always."

So then our thoughts of course turned to walks.

"That was a super day visiting the bluebell woods by the River Lune", said Allen. "I wonder if we might get out on Wednesday."

Little Eric had the iPad in paw. "the day looks to be mostly sunny, but with a cool wind. Dad may have to be in long trousers."

"So", mused Southey, "where to go."

After few moments Shaun said, "the lockdown has been eased slightly so as long as we do not stray too far perhaps we can go into Cumbria. With this in mind I was thinking of suggesting we do the walk through Levens Park. I know that we have done it a few times, but the route is through beautiful countryside that will be so lovely at this time of year."

"I think that is a great idea", agreed Tetley.

"Right", said Allen, draining his mug, "I'll go and see what Dad thinks."

"We'll fill it up for when you get back, after all you have only had two so far", laughed Little Eric.

He soon returned. "Dad agrees. He has also said that he will take the camera, and we can write this day as a separate story to fully show off the spring countryside."

"Great" cheered Southey. "Here's to the best Dad in the world."


5th March 2021
Dad agreed to take us on a walk today, and we decided to repeat this walk. The day was cloudy with a light but cold wind. The route is popular, so we met many other walkers today. We felt sad however, as today was our Uncle Brian's birthday, and had he been alive he would have been 91. In particular we felt for Dad, and our hug pal Fred who was Uncle Brian's special bear. At the seat by the river we sat a while in quiet contemplation thinking of Uncle Brian. He loved the countryside, and being by rivers and the sea. He would have enjoyed sitting here. Dad took a few pictures today, and we have included some below to expand our original narrative.

14th August 2021
We are staying out of the Lake District at present being the height of the tourist season, and particularly busy this year with less people holidaying abroad. So we suggested to Dad doing this walk again, as it is one of our favourites. The day was dry and with sunny periods. It was a significant day in another respect being 40 years to the day that Dad adopted his first bear, Gladly. So Happy Birthday pal!

At the time becoming a serious collector was not Dad's intention, but we are happy this happened, for us and all our other Hug pals to be adopted. Currently the Hug stands at 574. We also say a huge thank you for taking our group on the walks. We love you Dad! Afterwards Dad was in time to have a late lunch at one of his favorite places, the River Bela Cafe in Milnthorpe. We get to go in as well! Run by Martyn and Sarah, the food is quite excellent and it can be heartily recommended.

11th February 2022
Dad had had a very busy week and this was the only chance of a walk for a few days, so we are grateful for Dad to take us out. While a bit cold there was for once hardly any wind so we enjoyed doing this route again. We were saddened to see that trees had fallen in the recent storms including 4 of the magnificent oaks in Levens Park. However overall the damage was not as extensive as we had feared. There were lots of people out walking today, taking advantage of the calm weather. Near Force Bridge we met a group of ladies, who asked who saw and asked about us. "Have they got names", one asked. So we were individually introduced, and some of our achievements mentioned and our website. Later by the River Kent we met two ladies, who told us about the path on the other side of the river and about the remains of the gunpowder works and that the bluebells and wood anemones are a sight to see in spring. Shaun later said, "We must devise a route to see them." The only tricky part of the walk today was the sloping field after Sedgwick. The muddy trod was very slippy but thankfully Dad managed to stay on his feet! He said to a couple we met later in Levens Park, "I felt like one of those skaters at the Olympics!" This made them laugh. The day was rounded off by a visit to River Bela Cafe for a lovely lunch, where we get to go in too, of course.

 

The Walk

As Little Eric had said, there was a biting NE wind, so Dad sensibly was in long trousers and jumper.

We parked just past Levens Bridge on a section of road that was once part of the A6 and the main road north. There were quite a few cars already parked, but this was not surprising as Levens Park is popular with walkers.

"OK Dad", said Shaun, "down to Levens Bridge but staying on this side, and taking the stile into to park."

The trees are freshly in leaf now and pointing Grizzly said, "there's our first picture of the day."

The wide path led straight with the River Kent to the right, it bending away after a little way. "That is will make a nice shot, and gives a great impression of the magnificent trees", said Allen.

The path led on, Southey saying, "I wonder if we will see any of the deer."

We kept out eyes peeled, but there was no sign today.

By way of contrast in 2021, Dad stopped to take this group of trees bare of their foliage.

Had he not, then maybe Tetley wouldn't have looked right, and called out quietly, "look pals, there's some of the fallow deer down by the fence. They almost blend in with the background."

"Great", whispered Southey, "that's made up for last time."

Following the waymarks, we arrived at this stile, out of the park.

Southey remembering from last time said, "it's right beside the wall, to a stile in the corner of the next facing wall then across the pasture to a further stile onto the road at Park Head, and then right."

"Well done lad", said Shaun, "you are really getting good at the directions."

On the August day in 2021, Grizzly pointed to the house on the left commenting, "I wonder what that flag is?"

As it happened the lady living there was in the yard, and Dad asked her.

"It is the Cumbria flag. The blue and white wavy lines represent the coast and lakes, while the upper part with the white Parnassus flowers represents the fells and fields." She then went on. "I have lots of different flags including the Royal Standard that I fly on the Queen's birthday. I am going to fly the Greek flag, as I feel so sorry for all the people there affected by the terrible fires."

"Yes it indeed is quite awful", agreed Dad. "That would a lovely way of showing support for them."

So thanking her again and saying goodbye, Dad walked on. The road ends above the river where the huge bridge carries the busy A591 link road. A walkway allows pedestrians passage underneath to another narrow road.

"I think we have discussed before about the fact that these sections were perhaps joined before the bridge was built", said Allen.

"Well", said Grizzly, "I have done some research on the Internet. I found a map of the Levens area dated 1947, and this clearly shows the current two section were indeed joined."

"Another mystery solved", said Tetley. "Thanks pal."

Dad strode on, Allen suddenly saying, "look at that pig snuffling about on the banking."

This was in 2021 and Tetley said, "because of your appetite Dad, Uncle Brian would jokingly say you were a pig. Seeing this picture, he would have said, 'look Gerry, there's your cousin'."

"That he would", replied Dad laughing. "Brian had a great sense of humour and a very quick wit. He made me laugh so much, at times until I cried. Such a wonderful friend and soulmate."

The River Kent was below to our right. "The falls are quite impressive today", commented Little Eric. "A contrast to last May when it was low, after the long dry spell."

Coming to a junction Southey said, "straight ahead, then right at the next junction."

Now by the river we came to another junction, where left a sign indicated the route to...

"I've been there many times over the years with Uncle Brian. Mostly to the shop, but we had meals at the cafe too", said Dad. "The cafe will of course be closed just now, but I feel sure the shop will be open. If we go further into Cumbria, I will call in when passing."

"Our way is straight on", said Allen.

This leads to a caravan site, but Southey said, "we have to cross the river."

"Using the suspension bridge", replied Shaun.

This shot is looking across it. Peering at the sign, Tetley said, "the maximum number on the bridge at any one time is 25. Safe for us to cross then."

Halfway Dad paused to take this of the River Kent looking downstream. "The buildings on the right are called Wilson Place", commented Grizzly.

Then before we strode off right beside the river, Dad took this of the bridge.

"Have you got anything to tell us about the bridge, Grizzly?, asked Tetley.

"Yes pals, I have done my research." Pointing he then said, "on the far side of the river there are lost in the trees the remains of the Old Sedgwick Gunpowder Works. The only crossing of the river was at Force Bridge that we passed earlier, but this was not convenient for northern workers. So to save them a long detour to get to work, the company built a wooden footbridge around 1858. This was swept away in October 1874 during a flood. The bridge was rebuilt by Francis James Willacy as the suspension bridge, we have just crossed. It was restored in 1988 and reopened in April 1989, the ribbon across the bridge being cut by Mrs Thomas Hornyold-Strickland of Sizergh Castle (Westmorland Gazette, 14th April 1989)."

"Thank you", said Southey. "I love how you add interest to our adventures."

In August 2021 Allen suggested, "I wonder if we can find any of the remains of the gunpowder works. So we walked on to the caravan site. Unsure exactly where the remains if any are Dad was reluctant to venture too far into the caravan site, but we did note this building by the road.

"I feel sure that was associated with the works", said Little Eric.

Later Grizzly did some research, and as able to tell us, "you were correct pal. It was once the sawmill and watch house. There are in fact lots of remains, had we explored further and I have found a website that gives extensive details. Gunpowder Works

Shaun said, "there is a path shown on this side of the river leading to Hawes Bridge, which we could walk next time we do this walk, and perhaps see the remains."

Over the suspension bridge, we followed the path by the river to a gate onto a track.

"If we take the left fork we will keep by the river through the woods", said Shaun.

"Right lad", replied Dad.

By doing so we also avoided other walkers using the track, so keeping to the social distancing rules.

After the next gate we came to Dorothy's Seat. The dedication reading -

DOROTHY'S SEAT
DOROTHY MARGARET WEBB
1912-2000
SHE WAS FULL OF FUN AND KINDNESS
HER FAMILY AND FRIENDS WILL
REMEMBER HER ALWAYS

"Let's stop here for a snack", suggested Tetley.

"Ooh yes", cheered Allen, rubbing his tummy in anticipation.

We did not linger too long due to the cold wind. Little Eric said, "will you take our picture, like last time?"

Striding on we followed the path along the river bank to the road at Hawes Bridge.

"It's right here", instructed Southey.

Coming to a corner, Allen pointed, "look at those knitted items attached to the gate. I wonder what the reason is."

It was destined to remain a mystery.

After the next bend, Shaun pointed, "we should go through that kissing gate on the left to join the drained section of the Lancaster Canal, and follow it right."

Passed under a bridge, then followed the line of the towpath the canal here having been filled in and returned to agriculture.

A hawthorn hedge ran to the right. "Look", pointed Southey, "that ewe is enjoying the fresh foliage."

"I suppose they are her lambs", pointed Tetley. "They are behaving and following the social distancing rules", he went on, laughing.

"What no complaints Allen", said Little Eric.

He sighed, "I would have been amazed if we had got away without any sheep pictures today."

The scenery here is beautiful and we quietly enjoyed this as Dad walked slowly on.

"Look at the blossom there", pointed Grizzly. "Just so beautiful. I love springtime."

"There's one of the mile stones", pointed Grizzly.

"What do the numbers mean?, asked Southey.

Grizzly replied, "on this side 24 indicates the number of miles to Lancaster. The 3 on the other indicates the distance to Kendal."

Some sections of the canal remain visible like this at and beyond bridge 180.

"I know that there are desires to restore these Northern Reaches", said Tetley, "but I really doubt it will ever happen."

"I agree", replied Allen. "Must be very very low on any priorities"

A few minutes later we came to Larkspring Wood. "The bluebells are in full flower", called out Grizzly. "Let's go and have a closer look.

It was wonderful through here.

Dad followed the meandering path through the bluebells and further where the wild garlic was in profusion to return to the towpath.

In 2021 it was too early for the bluebells, but we spotted this fungi growing out of the tree branch.

A gate led us into open pasture, the route being clear to and underneath Horse Park Bridge, which looks strange marooned as it is in the middle of the vast field.

In 2021, entering another field lambs were playing by the fence. Dad being spotted, their mums called out, so they ran over, following them over the hill, to keep them safe.

On the far side after walking by a fence a gate leads into a narrow path that was lined with we think yarrow.

The canal is down to the left and has been taken over in part for house gardens.

Now in village of Sedgwick the former canal crossed the road by this aqueduct.

"What can you tell us about this, Grizzly?", asked Tetley.

"It was built in 1818 by John Fletcher and was in used until 1955. It is constructed from dressed limestone with a single skewed segmental arch flanked by rusticated tapering and curved pilasters. Both facades of the arch are curved and the west façade incorporates a stairway into its northern curve, by which we descended. The aqueduct is topped by a parapet with a projecting ledge that echoes the shape of the facades below and there is a blank panel above the arch. By skewing the arch this allowed the road beneath to be straight. It is a Grade II listed structure. My source of the information is the Historic England website."

Under the notice board is the wall postbox. Little Eric having a fascination for these called out, "take a picture for the story please Dad. The GR, means it dates from the reign of King George V."

Dad's legs then carried us up to the towpath again, and we continued by the canal bed that was much overgrown with trees.

Shortly we arrived at Stoker seat, the inscription telling us that it was donated by Gerry Stoker to Sedgwick Parish Council in 2013. As can be seen it commands a fine panoramic view.

Shortly we came into fields again, where there is no sign whatsoever that the canal ever existed.

"That tree will make a nice shot", said Southey.

At the end the path led down to Hincaster Lane, where we crossed the bridge over the A591. Tetley said, "the actual line of the canal is across the dual carriageway. An aqueduct would have to be built across the road, if the Northern Reaches are restored."

Approaching the road corner, Shaun called out, "we go right into Levens Park."

Shortly Grizzly, called out. "look there is the flock of Bagot goats. Historically they were originally introduced to England at Blithfield Hall in Staffordshire in the 1380s. They were probably brought back by returning Crusaders, and probably trace their ancestry to goats of the Rhone valley. The goats were said to have been given to John Bagot of Blithfield by King Richard II of England to commemorate good hunting the King had enjoyed at Blithfield. Levens Hall is owned by the Bagot family, hence, I presume, why there is a flock here."

Now we walked along the magnificent avenue of oak trees. "Just amazing" breathed Southey.

Allen commented, "where a tree has died or fallen a replacement has been planted to maintain the full avenue on either side."

"Look at that one", pointed Shaun. "The trunk is completely hollow."

The trees stretched on and on, but before the end, a waymark indicated our route right keeping beside the river.

With the trees bare in March, Little Eric said, "that will make a nice shot of the River Kent, don't you think?"

After a while Levens Bridge came into view. Again our pal Grizzly had more information. "Pals, the bridge is probably 17th century, having been widened and extensively repaired and rebuilt during 18th and 19th centuries. Built of Limestone rubble there are as can be seen two arches with cutwaters between, and flat sandstone coping to parapets. It is Grade II listed." 

Nearing the road, Allen said, "that cottage will make a nice shot through the trees. I like the tall rounded chimneys."

To the left of this a gate allowed Dad to take this shot of Levens Hall. Grizzly told us, "the first house on this site was a pele tower built by the Redman family in around 1350. Much of the present building dates from the Elizabethan era, with additions made in the 17th and early 19th centuries."

On the path again these steps led up to the road.

On the number of occasions doing this walk, we had never worked out the course of the avenue of oaks from the waymark indicating the path by the river. Well, in 2021 we were determined to solve this mystery. Looking left, Allen said, "the avenue continues, but then seems to end at that cross wall, which seems odd."

Then, as we walked on by the river and came close to Levens Bridge, Tetley said, "I've got it. At the wall it turns right and comes to that gate where Dad stood to take the picture of Levens Hall last May. I suppose when you think about it the avenue would start directly opposite the Hall."

Here is the gateway looking along the trees.

"Glad that is solved at last", said Shaun.

By way of variation in May, Dad crossed the road directly to walk past the entrance to the hall. Just beyond the boundary, a footpath, which was not actually our route went left parallel to the main road.

"Look" called out Tetley. "the wild garlic is just beautiful lining the path. Let's have a little look."

Wow", cried Southey, "incredible."

Returning we then crossed the road and walked up to the car. Looking left, Allen pointed, "there's Whitbarrow Scar. One of the Wainwright Outlying Fells that we have climbed a few times."

"What a super day", cheered Southey. "I have enjoyed every minute."

"As have we all", added Tetley.

"And Grizzly, thank you for all the information you have provided. It has made the walk so very interesting", said Tetley.

And so a very happy group, Dad now drove us home and we await our next adventure.

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