GLW2119 : Morland, With Grateful Thanks

Saturday 12th June 2021

Our Grateful Thanks go to the Historic Houses Association.  Without them it is unlikely we would have discovered this Great Little Walk.

Expecting that the Lake District and other honey pots would be heaving with post-lockdown visitors, we strove to find somewhere that would be both crowd-free and attractive.  Enter the HHA.  Listed among its members is Morland House.

North of Shap and west of Appleby is a stretch of countryside, close to the River Lyvennet (a tributary of the Eden) that I remembered as having a series of attractive villages ranging from Orton up to Kings Meaburn.  I had never included Morland in that list.  On the few occasions I passed through it seemed to be just an unattractive place with run-down semi-industrial or agricultural buildings.

When we noticed that Morland House was an HHA property with gardens open to members, we thought it might be worth a visit.  Then, when I discovered that Morland had a church with a Saxon tower plus other features of merit, it seemed like the place was worth a visit on its own merit.  That proved true.

We almost stopped at Kings Meaburn to have our butties- it is so attractive with its wide open greens adjacent to the river.  However we decided to press on.

First impression on driving into Morland was positive, even though its demerits still exist.  The challenge was finding somewhere to park.  Fortunately we managed to find a place at the gates to the overspill grave yard.  

The next challenge was to find somewhere to eat.  Experience tells me that there is always a seat in an old English churchyard, generally facing south.  Perfect.  Only, to my great surprise, there isn’t one at St Lawrence’s.  So we passed by Morland House, discovered Morland Beck and had our lunch whilst sat on its rocks in the sunshine. Lovely.

Next Morland House gardens.  This Tudor building is now a small country house hotel, the only information I could give you would be lifted from its website.

The gardens are extensive and probably beyond the capacity of the owners to maintain them all in pristine condition.  Some of the formal parts are lovely.  Other parts could be lovely and still have their charm.  Bits are overgrown but a path down by the river adds an extra and positive dimension.

Nearby, the café was heaving, clearly a magnet for the lycra clad brigade.  The pub seemed open but quiet.  And there was hardly anyone else around.

We left the village heading east then shortly turned right onto an ancient cart track that led between hedgerows and provided views of the Pennines looking splendid in the sun.  We paused in a large field to have a coffee.  

The grass had been recently cut and fortunately not yet sprayed with silage.  We were enjoying the panorama and posting WhatsApp photos of the radio station on the top of Great Dun Fell when something caught our eye moving at the far end of the field.  It was a reddish-brown colour.  “Look,” I said. “A fox.”  We watched Reynard sniffing around, into the hedgerow and back out.  Was it really a fox?  Its movement didn’t quite seem dog-like.  Or was it a doe?  Too small.  A rabbit?  Too big, too brown and too boundy.  I walked slowly down the field to investigate.  It turned out to be the largest hare I have ever seen (not that I have seen many).

Continuing on our way, we soon reached the River Lyvennet.  The path led alongside the river, through a wood below a cliff, emerging at a crossing place.  This is marked on the OS map as a yellow road with a ford.  There is a warning sign telling people not to attempt to drive across as it is in dangerous condition.  To be more precise, the river bed seemed perfectly drivable for a vehicle with a reasonably high wheel base.  The problem was the access and egress which presumably had been washed away in Storm Desmond or the like.  It can’t be that long ago as the surface on the approach road was in reasonable condition.

Fortunately there is a footbridge.  A wooden one perched on substantial stone pillars of what presumably had been a proper bridge within living memory.

The road on the other side of the ford, though minor, was also in good, weed-free condition despite lack of usage.  Turning right at the first junction took us onto a somewhat less minor road that led us back into Morland.  To my surprise, the church was open so we looked inside.  It is a pleasant, typical English country church, displaying the usual ancient boards with the 10 Commandments, the Creed etc and various ancient features.  Perhaps the most interesting item is a 17th century collecting box for the Poor.  Sadly but inevitably the door to the Saxon tower was locked.  To discover more, see Morland Church.

The car was where we had left it (fortunately) at the entrance to the graveyard.  It had been another Great Little Walk and, given the evening sunshine and extensive views, a great little drive home.  Thank you, Historic Houses Association.

Don, Saturday 12th June 2021

Map:  OS 1:50k map;  4.5 miles, 375 feet

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