Allen's 17th birthday walk


Date - 25th August 2021, 27th December 2021 & 1st May 2023
Distance - 9.25 miles (8.5 miles - 2023)
Ascent -
790 ft
Map - OL7
Start point - Layby on old road at Levens Bridge (SD 4959 8536)


Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk



Allen, Southey and Tetley were sitting quietly reading their Dalesman and Lake District magazines.

"Some interesting articles this month", commented Southey.

"Yes pal", agreed Allen. "You're welcome to read it when I have finished Tetley.

"Thanks. You can both have my Dalesman to read."

"That will be lovely", said Southey. "Thank you."

"It is your birthday next Wednesday, Allen", commented Southey.

"Yes pal. I will be 17. What a wonderful life I have had going on all those adventures. Like the rest of us I have been so fortunate to come and live here."

Meanwhile Tetley had picked up the iPad, commenting, "Dad has nothing down for Wednesday, so let's hope we can have a walk to celebrate." Then after a few more taps he went on, "the forecast looks good with a dry day and sunny periods."

Southey said, "we need to come up....." Then he noticed Shaun, with Little Eric riding on his back and Grizzly come into the room. "Tea and cakes" he cheered.

"Great", called out Allen, "I'm hungry and gasping for a cuppa"

"No surprise there", laughed Tetley as he got the mugs and passed the plates round.

"It's the Ramblears tea of course", said Shaun. "There is still plenty left, as Dad has been good leaving it mostly for us. Although we will probably need him to stock up when we go to Armathwaite in October."

Grizzly announced, "the cakes today are peach and apricot slice from Little Eric, while I have made Chorley cakes. There is butter to spread on them too if you want."

"Ooh lovely", cheered Tetley, taking one of each, and noting that Allen had already devoured a Chorley cake. "The cake stuffer in action", he said to him.

"Told you I was hungry", Allen replied.

So there was quiet for a while, then after Shaun had refilled our mugs, Southey said, "we are hoping Dad will take us for a walk for Allen's birthday next Wednesday, so we need to come up with a suggestion."

"Somewhere not too far to drive to the start", suggested Little Eric. "Let's have a look at the index of walks."

"Good idea", replied Grizzly, booting the laptop.

We then scanned down the listing, page after page. "We have done so many of these", sighed Allen, wondering if we would find one to suggest.

Suddenly Grizzly said, "how about this one from Levens Bridge. It is 9 miles and seems it does not go through the deer park."

Southey helped Tetley lift the heavy binder down, then quickly found the sheet. "It has been done twice a long time ago, First in 2002 and then with a variation of route with Uncle Eric in 2003", said Southey, reading the annotations.

"That was when just Tetley and I were walking", said Shaun. "So it will be new to the rest of you, although looking at the route, some sections will have been done by us all on other walks."

"Still, I would love it to be my birthday walk", said Allen. Then finishing his third mug of tea, he picked up the sheet saying, "I'll go and ask Dad."

As he left the room, Grizzly asked Shaun, "is there still some tea left?",

"Yes pal, I make extra flasks to accommodate tea belly Allen."

So he refilled Grizzly's mug and then Allen's too knowing he would want another.

Soon Allen returned. "Thanks Shaun, you read my mind", taking a sip of tea. "Dad likes our suggestion."

"Super", cheered Little Eric. "We will have a good day for sure."

27th December 2021
Due to Dad having other commitments and the awful weather, we had not been out for weeks, so it was good to be out today, repeating this walk. The day was dry if rather cloudy with a cool wind that strengthened as the walk progressed. Underfoot the paths were unsurprisingly muddy that made progress on the canal towpath more difficult. It was agreed that Dad would leave the camera at home today. There was only one place where it would have been useful. This to take the milestone at the start of Grievegate Lane, that was now in view with the vegetation having died back. We are hopeful that Dad will be passing here before it grows so that he can get a shot to include in the story. We have included other incidents relating to today in our narrative below.

1st May 2023
Repeating this walk again today. However Dad has been suffering with pain in his thigh and lower back, and honestly the distance was too far just now. We tried to persuade Dad to do a shorter walk, but to no avail, and we were not surprised that he was struggling at times. As Uncle Brian used to say, Dad needs to listen to his body. It was nevertheless enjoyable to do this walk again. In the woods beside Grievegate Lane, the masses of wild garlic was just coming into bloom. Another week or so it will be a truly magnificent sight. At the canal the hut for the Lancaster Canal Trust was open so Dad had quite a conversation with the two gentlemen. The pleasure boat Waterwitch was operating, and Dad snapped a shot as it passed by. Along here we also saw a heron that was perhaps looking for dinner. We have included a couple of extra pictures in our narrative.


The Walk

The evening before, Dad came to see us. "I have decided to start early and plan to set off from Levens Bridge at 08:00. There are two reasons. First weather is to was sunny and warm, so I want to avoid the hottest part of the day. And secondly, we will then finish in time for lunch at the River Bela Cafe."

"That's fine", said Tetley. "We have set off much earlier from home in the past to meet Uncle Bob for walks in Yorkshire."

So we were up early, wishing Allen a Happy Birthday, and giving him a hug. "Thank you pals!"

Dad was true to his word and just after 07:15 we were settled in the car and on the road. Using the M6 for one junction, it was then north on the A6 through Milnthorpe to park on the old section of the A6.

Despite the likely warmth for once Dad was in long trousers and jumper, Dad saying, "I expect some of the path the overgrown and there will be nettles so I do not want to get stung."

Soon ready and with us safely tucked in the rucksack we crossed Levens Bridge. "That will make a nice shot of the River Kent to start our story", called out Grizzly.

"Lovely reflections", pointed out Little Eric.

Just beyond was the entrance to beautiful Levens Hall with its famous topiary, seen over the tall boundary wall.

Shaun issued instructions. "we walk on to the end of the short section of dual carriageway, and there go left on the byway, Grievegate Lane."

"There's the very weathered sign", called out Southey.

Reading the walk sheet, Allen said, "Mary Welsh makes mention of an old milestone."

We peered about, Tetley pointing, "there it is, but we can sadly only see the very top inches, the rest being lost in the undergrowth.

"A pity, but I guess clearing the undergrowth is not a high priority", replied Allen.

This had died back in the winter, although Dad did not have the camera, but after our walk on New Years Day Dad made a detour and took this picture.

Beside is an information plaque as follows. The milestone gave directions from the road from Levens Bridge up the lane which joined the Heversham Head Road, which led via Deepthwaite to the original main road at Crooklands.
The surviving lettering Kirkby for Kirkby Lonsdale and part of the date possibly 1757. Routes and distances, now eroded, to Milnthorpe and Kendal were noted in 1903. The stone was moved eastward when the Turnpike Road was constructed c1820 and again when the A6 was widened in 1927.
It was restored by Heversham Parish Council in 2017, aided by grants from Cumbria County Council and the Leasgill Quarry Trust and supported by the Levens Hall Estate, owner of the adjacent land.

Initially the track is wide by a very tall wall, this soon swinging right. Shaun said, "we go straight ahead."

Here is entered woodland climbing gently.

A few minutes later clear of the wood, Tetley called out, "what a super view across to Whitbarrow Scar with the mist hanging below.

As Dad had suspected the ongoing walled path was indeed rather overgrown in places with nettles as tall as Dad. "You made the right decision to wear long trousers", stated Little Eric.

"That line of trees is reminiscent of the oaks in Levens Park", pointed Allen. "I know we have all been along here before going the opposite way, and that you took a picture of them, but it would be nice to include one in this story."

In December we were to see the effects of Storm Arwen that had raged from 25th to 29th November. A tree had fallen across the path but Dad was able to bend to get underneath. Then further on another tree had fallen completely blocking the route.

"Oh heck", shouted Little Eric, "whatever are we to do."

Allen pointed left. "Look the tree has crushed the hedge and taken the fence down too. Dad should be able to get across into the adjacent field."

"Yes lad, I can."

There looking ahead, Shaun said, "that is Mabbin Hall where the path ends. A footpath runs across the facing wall and there is a stile onto the end of Grievegate Lane. We then go out onto the road and turn left."

As Dad strode out, Southey who was helping Shaun with the directions said, "we go on until 50 yards past the end of Heversham Head Plantation, to find the old gap stile on the right, hidden in a kink in the hedge."

Branches poked out across the path and Dad literally had to force his way through, to a junction with a track.

Looking right, Tetley commented, "that goes back to the road, and I spotted that track as we passed."

"Sorry", said Southey. "That would have been much easier."

"Don't worry lad", replied Dad, "you weren't to know, and anyway the route we took was the correct right of way."

Turning left, we soon reached a gap stile, Southey saying, "turn left across the pasture once through."

This was full young bullocks who while looking inquisitively, otherwise ignored us. Two posed so Dad got the camera out.

"Makes a nice change from sheep", cheered Allen. "I am hoping as it is my birthday to get a sheep picture free story."

"It's through that kissing gate", pointed Shaun. "The instructions say rucksacks off."

This was indeed the case, and camera bag too, as the gap was very narrow. Indeed Dad had to stand up on the frame to finally get past.

Having donned his gear again, we continued across the playing field of Dallam School drifting right to the stile onto the trackbed of long closed railway.

Grizzly informed us. "This is part of the branch line on the Furness Railway that ran from Arnside to what is now the West Coast Main Line, joining that at Hincaster Junction. We have walked most of the sections that are now used as footpaths and cycle routes. From Arnside the section by the estuary to Sandside where there was a station, and from there the part in the deep cutting. It then crossed the road and we have walked the embankment towards Milnthorpe as far as the River Bela. This was spanned by the now demolished 26 arch viaduct. Beyond the track soon reached Heversham Station, of which the platform remains. Then it passed under the A6 and along this section we can see here. On the Hincaster Trail walk, we traversed some of the trackbed from the site of the junction with the main line, as far as can be walked on foot. Opened in 1876 the line closed to passengers in 1942. The trackbed was finally lifted in 1966."

"Wow pal, how knowledgable you are", said Southey.

"It would be nice to create a walk to take in this section of the line towards Heversham and see the remains of the station sometime", commented Tetley. "Something for us to look into."

Shaun advised, "our route is straight on across, up to the road, to turn left. Then ignore two signed paths off right, and continue to pass a right and left turn to then climb a hill and pass the few houses and farm at Woodhouse."

Here Allen pointed, "that's pretty garden, with Begonias like in our front garden."

Eyes on the map, Southey said, "shortly we take the track to the right."

This led to a gate, where he said, "keep by the hedge on left to that gate ahead then cross half right to another gate then on parallel to the railway and take the gated tunnel underneath."

We kept our eyes peeled for the gate to the tunnel, and seeing the cows gathered ahead, Dad said, "mark my words they will be standing blocking the gate."

How right he was, Little Eric exclaiming, "it's sods law."

There was no bother as Dad gently pushed one aside to open the gate and follow the track under the tunnel. There as no such problem in December as the cows were in the barns, seen through the tunnel, for the winter. The farmer with a trailer on his tractor was driving slowly along. This dropped feed in a continuous heap that the cows could feed on by poking their heads through.

The track led to Rowell Farm, and through the buildings to the road. "Turn left then soon take the path right via a stile", advised Shaun.

"There's the signpost", called out Allen. "I don't see the stile."

"Seems to have got overgrown and disappeared", said Tetley. "We'll have to use the gate, as is suggested in the instructions."

Dad climbed half left to a stile in the opposite hedge, where Southey advised, "we drop down and drift right to a stile onto the road."

There was no sign of it in the wide tall hedge, Little Eric helpfully saying, "there is a gate at the far left end onto the road."

"I am sure the stile is somewhere, but with the vegetation being at its height it might be hard to get through, so we'll use the gate which will be easier then go right along the road", replied Dad.

This accomplished Shaun said, "our route is soon left on the access path to Kidside."

As we approached this Southey called out, "there's the stile we were looking for through the hedge."

Knowing this, the correct route using this stile was followed in December.

As we set off along the access, Tetley pointed to this sign. "I bet that's interesting to try, Dad."

"Aye lad, something to ponder."

Just before the farm Shaun said, "it's over that stile on the left then cut across the corner of the field to that track between the buildings."

Here we saw the farmer who directed us, giving the impression the route was through a field that was full of maize. Actually this was not the case, and afterwards Dad and Shaun admitted they had read the map wrong.

"Never mind", said Tetley, "this hardly ever happens."

What we should have done was cross a stile into the field to our left, however the farmer gave us directions so we thought it best to follow them.

So, walking track round the edge of the field we were in, and through the left of two gates, we dropped down drifting left to a gate into the next pasture full of cows. This was crossed left to the road. It should be noted that this was totally off the actual footpath.

In December we were determined to direct Dad properly here, and there was a pause while Shaun and Southey studied the map. With a murmur of agreement Southey said, "we cross this field to the left. The path is diagonal to the top left corner."

The field had stubble stalks so Dad's route was more of a diagonal zigzag!

At the top it was over the stile right, Southey then saying, "go left by the hedge through two gateless gaps then round the edge to the stile onto the narrow road.

"Turn right then go left along the wide track under the A590", said Shaun.

Onwards we passed pretty Milton Mill.

Grizzly told us, "it is a grade II listed mill owner's house and attached mill to the rear. Dating from the early 18th century with later alterations and extension to the left." He then pointed, "see those initials JW Esq 1863. They are for Jacob Wakefield. According to the listing details I read, the mill has complete working mill wheel and machinery."

"Thank you pal", said Little Eric.

"Continue to the t-junction and turn right", advised Southey.

The pretty lane ran above Peasey Beck dropping to its level.

At a corner the the beck is crossed by this small aqueduct... the left of which we climbed the slope onto the canal towpath.

So far we had seen no other walkers, but unsurprisingly we passed a few people along the towpath.

Walking north we soon passed under Oldhall Bridge...

...and came to a hut used by the Lancaster Canal Trust, outside which was a seat, where we sat for a few minutes in quiet contemplation.

Before starting off again, Grizzly suggested, "this will be a good place to have our picture taken."

In 2023 the hut was open and Dad had quite a conversation with the two gentlemen from the Lancaster Canal Trust. Their pleasure craft Waterwitch was operating, Dad snapping this shot as it passed by.

Shortly, seeing an information board, Grizzly said, "this is the site of Wakefield's Wharf", Dad taking a shot looking back after we had strolled on.

Grizzly told us, "it was built in the 19th century to serve the gunpowder works of C W H Wakefield & Co Ltd founded in 1852 at nearby Gatebeck. In order to facilitate the every increasing import and export of goods, in 1874 a small horsedrawn tramway was built that followed the line of Peasey Beck to link the factory to the wharf and thence on to Milnthorpe railway station. The tramway and wharf remained in use until the closure of the factory in 1937."

"Thank you again pal", said Tetley. "We have walked part of the route of the tramway from Gatebeck, and I remember that we saw the small section of rail that still remains outside the coal yard by the A65 in Crooklands."

Dad walked on and soon we were passed by these cygnets line astern with either mum or dad.

In 2023 this heron was standing very still waiting patiently maybe for lunch!

Further on Allen pointed, "there is one of the missing milestones that has been restored by the Lancaster Canal Trust. The numbers indicate it is 20 miles to Lancaster and 7 miles to Kendal."

This section of the canal is little used and for most of its length was covered in green weed.

Close to the end of the watered section we crossed Stainton Aqueduct. "I remember seeing this on a walk with Uncle Eric, in a damaged state following the terrible storms in December 2015", said Southey.

Reading the information board Grizzly said, "it has now been restored. The work involved the dismantling and rebuilding of the southern embankment portal and wingwalls. As much as possible stone recovered from the beck was used with new stone so that the structure resembles the original as close as possible."

"There are steps down to view it", said Little Eric. "Let's go and have a look."

Returning to the towpath we walked on to come to Sellet Hall, passing another group of cygnets.

Beyond this the canal is dry and overgrown. We continued on the towpath to a narrow lane, where Southey instructed, "go left under the A590, then immediately climb the bank right and through the gate."

This led to Hincaster Tunnel through which the canal once ran.

"We have been here a few times over the last couple of years on walks", commented Tetley. "There is no towpath through the tunnel, so barges had to be either legged through or hauled using chains."

"That's right pal", said Shaun. "The horses were led over the hill using the horse path, which is our ongoing route.

The path climbed, then descended the far side, Dad in December having to rather inelegantly climb over tree that had fallen across the path, to Hincaster. Here we rested a little while on a convenient seat, while we had a little snack and a mug of tea. Dad had a couple of biscuits and drink of water.

Looking along the road, Grizzly said, "in the times this part of the canal was navigable that cottage was occupied by the canal worker whose job was to measure the water level every day, and if necessary, send a message with the postman to Killington Reservoir if topping up was needed."

"It looks like the single story section is newer, as there is a line on the wall seeming to show a taller building once adjoined the cottage", commented Allen.

Ready for the off we walked up the lane leading to Hincaster Hall.

"Hincaster Hall dates from the 16th century", Grizzly told us. "It was judged to be the 2nd prettiest in a competition in 1910. It features in Wainwright's 'Westmorland Heritage'."

"It's through the gate to the right and follow the track round the field", advised Shaun.

"That tree will make a nice shot for the story", pointed Little Eric.

The track swung left and climbed to a brow. "Wow", called out Southey what a wonderful panorama. There's Whitbarrow Scar now clear of any mist.

"And the Lakeland Fells with Levens village", pointed Tetley. "Wetherlam is the large mountain to the left, then right Crinkle Crags and Bowfell. On the far right are the Langdale Pikes."

The track dropped to a gate then skirted by the fence to the right of the farm buildings to this large stone step stile, the picture taken after we had climbed over.

Looking closely at the stone at the bottom, Allen said, "that is Shap Granite. You can see the pinkish tinge."

We were now in front of the house of High Barns Farm, that according to the date stone was built in 1612.

With this to Dad's back he strode out along the concrete track that led to the A6 at Levens Hall and crossing the bridge we were soon at the car.

"Super walk", said Southey. "Even though we have done many parts of it before, I have enjoyed it all."

"Thank you Dad, for making my birthday a real celebration", said Allen. "And, yippee there will be no pictures of sheep. You truly are the best Dad and we all love you to bits."

Dad had been rather too warm on the last section, so changed into shorts. Then we headed off to the River Bela Cafe, sitting at the table by the window.

Dad brought us in a usual and we sat on the table. A group of four ladies at the next table remarked about us and Dad explained briefly.

One lady said, "I have a teddy bear that goes with me everywhere in the car and on holiday too!"

To eat Dad had ham eggs and chips. Tea, and then piece of lemon drizzle cake to finish off.

As he paid he introduced Allen to Martyn and Sarah, saying, "it is his 17th birthday today."

"Happy birthday", they said in reply.

So a lovely day and there was a surprise for Allen when we got home. Grizzly and Little Eric had made a huge birthday cake, iced and with the words 'Happy 17th Birthday Allen'. There were candles too, and after he had blown them out and made a wish, the cake was shared with all our pals.


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