GLW1206:  The Black and White Canal

Monday 18th June 2012

An evening stroll and another little dip into Graham Dugdale's Curious Cumbrian Walks although this time I have devised my own title rather than copy his walk:

A Royal Welcome for the Mail - the village that time forgot

As directed, we parked at Burton in Kendal but had an exploration along the main street before starting the walk.

It is a strange little village, one of contrast through which I have no recollection of ever having previously walked.

It is an historic mixture of once grand Georgian houses and small old cottages.

Sadly, it is also a modern day mixture of gentrified and near abandoned properties. One closed pub, The Royal, and one still in business, King's Arms.  

We came to the conclusion that, for many, the attractions of scenery and proximity to Lancaster and Kendal were outweighed by the fact that it is essentially a linear village and, despite not being on the A6, it is close to junction 36 of the M6 and accordingly remains busy with traffic.

It needs a by-pass to rejuvenate it.

We followed the book's route up round the back of Burton and along a very leafy lane. Apart from the rather muddy section, it reminded me a bit of Bavarian Alpine walking, albeit on a smaller scale.  Long stretches of not seeing very much interspersed with sudden openings with glorious views.

At one stage the instructions threw me until I realised the author had suffered from a problem that I sometimes have.  I have no difficulty with left and right because I view them as rotations, not directions.  Nor do I have any issues with North and South.  But for some strange reason it is not unknown for me to confuse east and west.  When the author talked here of pursuing a north-westerly course, he really meant one that is north-easterly.

A little further on, after passing through the hamlet of Clawthorpe, various inhabitants not being unknown to certain of our friends, Mr Dugdale has another hiccup.

 He refers to seeing Clawthorpe Hall on your right.  I thought at first that he had had another of his lateral transferals as Clawthorpe Hall was certainly on our left, but I could not see it.

Then I realised that his direction was correct but his naming of the property was not.

 It was, in fact, Curwen Woods to which he had intended to refer- an imposing residence owned until recently by the late and sadly missed Richard Boddy.

After crossing the A6070, the Holme sign, some horse and the motorway, I made a mistake and turned left down a narrow lane which I presumed would be the one mentioned in the book "serving a canalside row of terraced houses known as Sheernest".

The lane, which could appropriately be called Dogpoo Avenue, failed to serve any such cottages.  Looking at the OS map, I realised that we had turned left a little too soon.  Mr Dugdale might have made that clearer.  No harm done, we were soon able to cross the canal.  From the bridge, not only did we have a fine view of the Lakeland hills, we could also see the large mill pond at Holme Mills.  From my occasional trips down that road, I had not realised how big it was.

This stretch of the canal is really very pleasant, quite elevated with good views all round, particularly of Farleton Knott and the distant Lakeland hills.  Tonight a hot air balloon could be seen in the direction of Coniston Old Man and another in the opposite direction.

An information board informed us that this waterway used to be known as the Black and White Canal as it was used by barges travellling northwards full of coal then returning south with limestone.

Once at Moss Bridge we turned left (i.e. East - I think), over the strangely named Hanging Hill and back to Burton-in-Kendal.  Mr Dugdale had again produced a very enjoyable short walk, especially suited to a rare fine June evening.

Don, 18th June 2012



Distance: 5.0 miles;     Height climbed:  374 feet



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