17th July 2019

A walk to the Lacy Caves (5.9 miles)

Anne, Mairi and myself went for our summer holiday to Ainstable, Cumbria in the Eden Valley. This is England’s hidden gem. We love the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland is beautiful. This was amazing. We didn’t go further than 15 miles from our wee holiday house in the whole week. We did miles of walking. The area is far quieter than where we are in the Highlands.

On the Wednesday we went to see the Lacy Caves.

Colonel Lacy, of Salkeld Hall, famous for once trying to blow up the stones of Long Meg Stone Circle, carved five chambers out of the sandstone cliffs by the River Eden in Little Salkeld.

Possibly he was emulating the caves at Wetherall, further up the River Eden.

It was fashionable to have romantic ruins at that time, or they may have been built as a wine store. Colonel Lacy used to entertain guests here, and the area was planted with gardens. The rhododendrons and laburnams still flower every spring.

We drove to Little Salkeld and parked at the triangle at the North end of the village. We started at 11.10 by walking down to Town End Farm and following the track out from there. It follows the Settle Carlisle railway for a while.

We passed this strange map mosaic  created by a local potter and the school children.

This is strange fence post decoration.

All the time we were getting glimpses of the River Eden.

You then come to the ruins of a gypsum mine.

Right above the river is the caves.

The path got very boggy but a wooden walk way took us past the worst of it. It was starting to get rotten and bits were missing.

We stopped in a lovely field for lunch. It was warm and really pleasant.

Finally we reached the furthest out part of our walk – Daleraven Bridge.

We followed the road back for a short while before turning down a wee side lane.

We made a diversion to see St. Michaels Church.

A church has stood here in the parish of Glassonby since 1272. The current church of St Michael and All Angels is not the original, possibly rebuilt in 1704.  Although Addingham is an Anglo-Saxon settlement, there hasn’t been a village here since the 14th Century, when the River Eden changed its course and washed the village away.

Inside the Church are several stained glass windows, including a modern one by S.M.Scott, depicting St Michael and the dragon, inserted in 1973 as a memorial to Frederick and Thomas Westgarth, and their wives.

Near the entrance stands a well preserved Anglo-Saxon hammer-head cross, with four holes and carved scrolls.

In the porch of the Church is a Viking hog-back tombstone, two parts of a 14th Century Viking cross, and two coffin lids decorated with early Christian emblems.

We sat in the church for a while. It had a lovely peaceful atmosphere.

You walk through the church grounds to get onto the bridleway leading to Long Meg and Her Daughters. This is a huge stone circle consisting of 69 stones, the largest of which is Long Meg standing at 12 feet.

Unfortunately the rain started. Some of the photos show this.

A wet Anne beside Long Meg.

It was down then to Little Salkeld as fast as we could. We still got a bit damp.

We got back to the car at nearly 2.30. This was a super walk. We hardly met anyone.