HOFF BECK, RUTTER FORCE, GREAT ORMSIDE & RIVER EDEN,
from APPLEBY-IN-WESTMORLAND

 


Summary

Date - 17th June 2010 Distance - 9.5 miles
Ascent - 650ft
Map - OL19 Start point - Boroughgate, Appleby (NY 684201)

 

Preface

Allen, Grizzly & Little Eric were chatting, while munching on some Kendal Mint Cake that they were sharing.

" Despite the fact that the snow has kept us off the fells, we have managed to get out locally and do a few walks", remarked Allen.

"Dad had said that it has helped to keep his fitness up for when we venture on to the mountains again" Grizzly replied.

"I haven't minded, as it has taken me to places I have not visited before", chipped in Little Eric. He went on, "have you seen the weather forecast for Sunday?"

"Looked alright", replied Allen.

"So a walk will be on hopefully", said Little Eric.

"Sure is", called out Tetley, who had just sauntered in with Shaun.

Shaun went on, " we are going further afield, to walk from Appleby, taking in Rutter Force and Great Ormside. Tetley and I did it with Dad and Uncle Eric many years ago."

"Like Dad, all we can really remember is the impressive Rutter Force, so it will be nice to refresh our memories, and completely new for you three", added Tetley.

 

The Journey & Tour of Appleby

Eager to be off, we quickly settled in the car, while Dad completed loading his gear. Calling out goodbyes to Uncle Brian and the rest of the Hug, off we went on the drive to Appleby. Heading north on the M6 took us past the Howgill Fells. Only last week they had been completely blanketed in snow, but much had melted away, and they were a patchwork of green and white. Leaving the motorway at Tebay, Dad then continued on the road towards Appleby. After a few miles, we passed through the village of Orton that we had visited before on a number of walks over the years. The road then climbed over Orton Fell, where the snow was still piled at the sides, where it had been cleared by the snow ploughs. Then in just a few miles we reached our destination, Dad parking near the castle, at the top of the main street called Boroughgate.

Before the local government reorganisation in 1974, Appleby had been the county town of Westmorland. The reorganisation merged the counties of Westmorland and Cumberland to form Cumbria. Subsequently, the 'in Westmorland", was added to the name of Appleby, in recognition of its former status. The town is world famous for its Horse Fair, set up by charter in 1685 as a fair for horse trading, running for a week in June, ending on the 2nd Wednesday in June. It is the largest of its kind in the world, attracting a huge gypsy gathering.

In February last year Dad and Uncle Brian with some of our Hug pals visited Appleby. They have kindly agreed to allow us to use some of the pictures taken then to illustrate some of the town.

First however is the view down Boroughgate, taken today.

At its end is the church of St Lawrence, here with the churchyard white under a covering of snow in February 2009. The oldest part of the church is the lower tower dating from the 12 century. During the Border Wars, the church was destroyed and rebuilding took place in the 14th century, with restoration in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Visitors can see work from all these periods. The porch was built in about 1300, but the arch with its dog-tooth moulding is about 100 years older.

In front stand the impressive cloisters, designed by Sir Robert Smirke in 1811.

The beginning and end of Boroughgate is marked by the High Cross and Low Cross. The latter, shown in the picture above, is an 18th century copy of the High Cross, dating from the 17th century, that stands near the castle gates.

The High Cross bears the inscription 'Retain your loyalty, preserve your rights'

In front of this is a convenient seat, where our pals Dougal, Lee, Barnaby & Citroen, posed for their picture.

If you are wondering why Citroen is not looking at the camera, it is because he is distracted by the wonderful view over the roof tops of the Pennines deeply covered in snow. From left to right can be seen Cross Fell, Little Dun Fell and Great Dun Fell, on which can be seen the dome of the radar station.

This has by necessity been just a short tour of the town, and much more information can be gleaned from the following link - Appleby-in-Westmorland

And so finally to -

The Walk

While Dad got his boots on etc, we hopped into the rucksack and got comfortable. From the notes taken when Shaun and Tetley had done the walk in 2002, it was clear that Dad would have to climb many stiles.

"It will be interesting to know how many", said Grizzly, "so I will count them as we go along".

"I'll take a note every so often so we don't forget where we have got to", volunteered Allen.

"Thanks", replied Grizzly.

"Right", said Dad, "let's be off."

So it was along Shaws Weind, in the direction that we had come from in the car. After a few hundred yards, Dad suddenly stopped and exclaimed, "darn, I have left my stick planted in the verge by the car."

So back we went and sure enough there it was. What is he like!

Now finally we were really on our way. At the junction we went right on the road signed Colby, then in a few yards took the path left into fields and the start of all those stiles! At the top of the first field was this interesting cross step stile, photographed when Dad first did the walk in August 2002, so explaining the verdant vegetation.

"That will be three", called out Grizzly, "including the stile on the left a little further along the track that we will cross into the next field."

"Noted", replied Allen.

As we walked up this field we met a local gentleman walking his dog, and Dad stopped to chat. They talked generally about the walking in this area, and the gentleman was interested in the route we were taking today. He had never done the part from Hoff to Rutter Force, but liked the idea of that route and said he would look it up when he got home.

The route continued over numerous fields and more stiles, finally coming beside the Hoff Beck at Bandley Bridge.

As we were crossing, Dad paused so that we could enjoy the views up and down the beck. They were quite delightful, and we have chosen this picture looking up stream, to include in our story. We liked the way that Dad had captured the light on the trees. Incidentally the beck eventually becomes the Colby Beck at the village of the same name, and this then runs into the River Eden just a short distance beyond.

Turning left alongside the beck, the path soon entered a hazel copse. Keeping to the top path at the junction we reached a stile in the fence. Dad stopped here to take his jumper off as he was warm, necessitating us having to come out of the rucksack, so we sat on the stile and posed for our picture.

"That's stile thirteen", called out Grizzly"

"Noted", replied Allen once again.

Off again, we walked along above the beck, and then down some well placed duck boarding to come beside it.

Below this the river bank had been undermined by the water, so the duck boarding had fallen away, making the descent rather awkward. This spot afforded another delightful prospect of the Hoff Beck, and the path we had to walk can be clearly seen.

Clear of the trees again, the path continued on over more fields. At one point it was extremely muddy, the ground now very wet with the thaw having set in. It was extremely hard for Dad to get his foot out against the sucking of the mud. He and the walker coming the other way wished the ground had still been deeply frozen! Eventually the path led to the hamlet of Hoff, where, at the farm we saw the first lambs of the year. We could not get very close, so this was the best shot Dad was able to take.

As we passed the farmhouse, Dad stopped to chat to the farmer and his wife The farmer explained that the ewes were not expected to lamb until March, but for these he had not got the tup (ram) out of the field soon enough! This ewe had lambed on her own about ten days ago, in temperatures of minus 14C, which just shows how hardy they are! As soon as they realised, the ewe and her lambs were kept inside where it was warm. They had been let out again just today, as the weather was much milder.

At the end of the farm drive, we were now at the main road we had driven along this morning. The road was crossed, walking along the lane opposite, then after a few hundred yards, it was left along a track, to use the bridge to cross Hoff Beck. More fields and stiles followed, before the beck was crossed again. Continuing downstream we soon reached a narrow road and the small group of buildings at Rutter Force. Unsurprisingly the waterfall was in full flow and impressive. The picture is taken from the bridge over the beck. This actually made four times we had crossed it since Bandley Bridge.

When Dad had done this walk in August 2002, the mill had been open to the public, and there was a cafe too. Sadly the cafe is now long gone, and the old mill is now a private house.

Over the bridge the narrow road led to Broadmire Road, where we went left. The walk instructions then said 'take the stiled footpath, signposted Ormside'. Well, we found the path but bizarrely, it seemed, it is now signed Donkeys Nest!

"That's odd", remarked Tetley.

"Yes" replied Shaun, scrutinising the map. He went on, "the path leads to a road by a house, but the map says it is called Porch Cottage."

"Well it is definitely the right route", said Dad climbing yet another stile.

First we walked up a large field, then after a stile, crossed slightly left to a gate. As we approached, Little Eric suddenly called out, "well that explains it, Porch Cottage has been renamed Donkeys Nest".

By the house we went left along the lane, and at the crossroads continued ahead to descend past a caravan site, and then climb the quiet road to the village of Great Ormside.

Just before the railway bridge that carries the Settle-Carlisle line, Dad stopped to look at an imposing house to the right. "That looks like an ex railway building as the architecture is typical of the Midland Railway, who built this line", he remarked.

He was right too as the name on it read 'Old Station Master's House'. It has been extended at some time, as you will see when comparing it in the old picture of the station, below.

We then went the short distance along the lane, to come to a building that was once Ormside station, largely unaltered, apart from an ugly extension on the left end. It is now a school.

Dad took us behind the building close to the fence that now blocks it from the track, and we could see clearly what little is left of the platform. This with a number of other minor stations along the line was closed in the 1960's as part of the 'Beeching Axe'. From Dad's book on the history of the line, here is a picture of what the station was like when it was open.

Nearby is Ormside Viaduct, photographed a little later in the walk, but included here for the sake of continuity with the railway theme.

This carries the line over the River Eden for the first time, and one of the piers, the one immediately to the left of the right stronger pier, stands in the river. The picture shows clearly that each fourth pier of the viaduct is of greater strength. In all there are ten arches and in total it is 200 yards long and 90 feet high. The construction took place between 1870 and 1875.

From the station we walked on into the village. Ormside means 'the seat of Orm'. He was a Viking, probably one of the Halfdans, Danes who pillaged Northumbria and eventually settled in the Dales, arriving in this district around 915AD.

Shaun said, "there is an old AA sign along here, so let's see if we can spot it.

We were nearing the end of the line of houses and buildings, when Allen shouted, "there it is!"

They were set up by the AA more than 80 years ago, and apparently they are called village signs. Having viewed pictures of other signs on the Internet, it seems that as well as showing the distance to the nearest places, they always stated the distance to London, 273 miles in Great Ormside's case.

Looking ahead, Grizzly piped up, "is that the sycamore tree you told us about Tetley?"

"Yes", Tetley replied. "It is reputed to have been planted in 1693. It is thought to have replaced a preaching cross, possibly destroyed in the Civil War", he continued.

Even bare of its foliage, it is enormous. Quite a sight then, when in leaf.

Just along the lane we soon arrived at the gates to St James' Church, and once through Dad strolled up the path.

The present building sits on the site of earlier places of worship, the massive squat west tower having been built in the 13th century, and clearly having a defensive function. Going inside Dad took this picture of the nave and chancel.

The nave is a combination of 11th 12th and 14th century masonry. Originally the chancel was much smaller, but was lengthened in the 12th century and later widened to the south in the 17th century. To the left of the nave is the Hilton Chapel, built in the 17th century and Cyprian Hilton of Ormside Hall was buried there in 1693. On the wall in here, we were fascinated to see displayed a copy of the will of the Black Prince, son of Edward III. The will is believed to have been written by John de Grote at one time a priest of Ormside, who later became attached to the royal household. It would have been written before the Black Prince set out on his last venture to the continent. He died in 1376.

Some amazing finds have been made in the churchyard -

In 1823 the 'Ormside Bowl' dating from the 7th to 8th centuries was unearthed. Pictures of it were on display too, and it is quite magnificent, and we could see why it is regarded as one of the country's most valuable and rare Anglo-Saxon artefacts. It is now on display in the Yorkshire Museum in York. The following link is the only picture we could find on the Internet - www.theposthole.org/read/article/28

In 1898 a Viking burial of a warrior with his sword was discovered. The sword can be seen in Tullie House Museum in Carlisle.

Dad put a donation in the box before leaving, and we hope that the vicar did not mind that we sat in the porch to have our picnic. While we munched away, we discussed all we had seen in Great Ormside and reflected on what an education it had been.

Retracing our steps, we now took a track on the right to then go right at the t-junction. This was to take us under the viaduct, after Dad had deviated over a field to take the picture included earlier. Immediately under this Dad climbed the stile ahead, then at the top of the field walked left down a wide grassy track between hedges, and then over a stile on the right.

"That's stile thirty", called out Grizzly.

"Noted", replied Allen once again.

The path slanted down the field, and crossed a plank bridge over the stream. Ironically the bridge was below the waterline. Over yet another stile and then the path led left to a bridge over Jeremy Gill, to then climb up and finally come beside the River Eden. We had hoped to have sweeping views of the river, but they were dashed as the path was high above with dense woodland along the bank below. After a while our hopes were raised again when a waymarker directed us right down steep steps to river level. Disappointingly, the dense woodland still obscured the view.

"Just look at that interesting fungus on that tree", called out Allen, as we walked along.

"Ooh I bet it's poisonous", mused Tetley.

"I am sure you are right", said Dad, as he took this picture.

The path was very muddy and slippery with the thaw having set in. When it came within inches of the river bank, Dad had to be especially careful not to slip and fall in. Well, we would have got wet. Finally our patience was rewarded when one sweeping view opened up of the wide and fast flowing river.

Eventually another stile led us out of the woodland. Just along here it started to rain, but this passed over after a few minutes, as we strolled over three or four more fields. When we were presented with the choice of two stiles, Dad took the left one leading into a fenced path.

"That's the last stile, and I make it thirty five", said Grizzly.

"I agree", replied Allen, consulting his notes.

"Glory me", sighed Tetley, "I pity Dad's poor knees."

At the end of the track a gate gave access to the road, and we walked along Scattergate and Shaws Weind to Boroughgate and the car. What a lovely walk and full of interest. Thanks Dad, for a super day.

After all that effort we reckoned that Dad deserved a good meal, so he drove to Junction 38 Services in Tebay. Here he enjoyed a good helping of tasty meat balls with chips and vegetables, washed down with two pots of tea.

We wanted to take some biscuits as a present for Uncle Brian, but they did not have a suitable ones at these services. So, Dad kindly took the scenic route home via Kendal, so that we could call at Low Sizergh Barn where we bought him a packet of Oaties, one of his favourites.

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