A Church Path to Knock

For the first time in months we drove to the start of a walk, albeit just a few miles. We are still not prepared to drive any great distance to walk, given that Cumbria has one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in Britain and that scientists believe it hasn’t yet peaked in our county.

Dufton Church (c) John Bainbridge 2020

We drove to Dufton, on a hot and bright day, with the intention of following the church path to the parish church, which is someway out of the village, then on to the hamlet of Knock before doing a circuit of Knock Pike – one of the three great pikes that seem to guard the Eden Valley from the long heights of the North Pennines.

On the Path to Church (c) John Bainbridge 2020

And how good it would be to see this whole area created a National Park…

It’s good to walk a church path. I can remember countless footpath inquiries over the decades where someone either wanted to close or divert such rights of way. “Oh, it’s only the way people used to walk to church in old times,” the proponents would bleat to the inquiry inspector.

Church Way (c) John Bainbridge 2020

As if that wasn’t important – a hugely vital way of understanding a bit of our social history.

The Path Through the Churchyard (c) John Bainbridge 2020

Happily, nobody has tried to close to path between Dufton and its parish church. This right of way is well used, by locals and ramblers from afar. And a lovely path as well, running through splendid countryside with great views and a rather lovely squeeze stile.

Ancient Squeeze Stile (c) John Bainbridge 2020

And please let’s Save Our Stiles – ignore the rambling zealots who want them swept away. They are an iconic feature of our countryside’s history. Vandalism and cultural slaughter to do away with them! I know people with disabilities have difficulties with stiles. I do sometimes. I have severe arthritis in my feet. So I don’t mind alternative gates, but let’s keep the older stiles as well. The idea that future generations of walkers might never know what a stile is – outside the writings of Shakespeare, Richard Jefferies, John Clare, Wordsworth etc. – is horrifying.DSCF1936

Because of the Lockdown, the old church was shut, but it was pleasant to linger in the tree-shaded churchyard. We crossed the beck and wound our way up to the land leading through Knock. A pleasant and quiet byway.

Knock Pike, with Dufton and Murton Pikes in the distance (c) John Bainbridge 2020

Beyond the hamlet we chatted to a cyclist who’d come up from Kendal and intended to bike the steep private road up to the golf ball radar station on Great Dun Fell, one of the highest summits of the Pennines. We admired his stamina on such a hot day.

Mountain Pansies (c) John Bainbridge 2020

But we followed his route for a mile before taking the path circling Knock Pike. The Pennine side of Knock Pike was quarried away in previous times, though the old quarry isn’t visible until you come round to this side.

The Glory of the Gorse (c) John Bainbridge 2020

The views are quite wonderful. Not just the Pennines, but across the Eden Valley to Wild Boar Fell, then the Lake District hills in the distance, dominated by mighty Blencathra.

Another lovely old stile (c) John Bainbridge 2020

On the moorland beyond the Pike we saw purple mountain pansies – the Pennines are a good habitat.

Looking back to the Pennines (c) John Bainbridge 2020

Beyond, a lovely stretch of gorse and a beck almost completely dry in this hot May weather.

There’s an enclosed path heading back down into the valley. Heavily vegetated at this lush moment, but pleasantly walkable.

The Path Down (c) John Bainbridge 2020

We’ve done this walk before taking the circuit of Knock Pike in the other direction, but far better to do it this way, with all the views before you.

Published by John Bainbridge

Rambler, hillwalker, stravaiger and trespasser, access campaigner. Novelist writing historical and period crime fiction.

8 thoughts on “A Church Path to Knock

  1. We have lots of mountain pansies on Whittas Park next to Binsey – they’re starting to ail a bit now with the drought though 😦 Just the purple ones left now – they must be more drought-resistant than the purple and yellow ones.

    Glad you mentioned stiles – I was just going to while I read your post. I think it’s vital we keep stiles and deplore the efforts to rid us of them. I’ve been so thankful for stiles while this virus has been raging – far preferable to handling a gate – I bet the farmer thinks so too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A wonderful walk, John; thank you for the chance to see what you see. I love to find church walks, too. There is one near us that I hope to walk soon which becomes really obvious during dry spells in the summer. The grass is different on the path to that surrounding it. I am all for stiles as well, despite arthritis making it difficult to climb up and get down and, because of my short legs I find squash stiles extremely difficult to get through! It gives my husband a laugh every time we encounter them!

    Liked by 1 person

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