Walking in the Lowther Valley

We could hardly ever tell people just where we’re going on a walk, as we tend to change our minds as we go. We were planning to walk up from Askham through the Lowther Estate and then up to the ring cairn on Knipe Scar. But in the end we put off the cairn and the scar for another day, and had a stravaig that took us up through Bampton Grange, Bampton and Helton.

Bampton Grange (c) John Bainbridge 2020

A rather lovely day of footpaths and lanes, old red telephone boxes, lots of Cranesbill in the hedgerows. A day that began and ended with a shower but stayed mostly dry. A day of ice cream from the super tea room in Bampton.

If you haven’t walked Bampton then you should. So many folk rush through the Lowther valley to get to Haweswater and grand walks up to Nan Bield, Kidsty Pike, High Street and all those wonderful tops. There’s a corpse road too. Well worth seeking out, all of them. But don’t ignore the gorgeous and peaceful places around Bampton along the way.

River Lowther (c) John Bainbridge 2020

We set off from Askham, one of the loveliest villages in Cumbria, following the River Lowther up towards the hamlet of Whale. Just beyond is a footpath that saves a bit of lane walking, though the lanes are quiet enough.

A View of Whale (c) John Bainbridge 2020

On this path is what looks like a very old stone clapper bridge, with a more modern handrail. The top of the path needs the overgrowth clearing and I’ve logged that slight problem on the Ramblers Pathwatch website. Not a great obstruction though. You can still walk the path, though your legs might get wet if the grass is wet.

Cottage at Whale (c) John Bainbridge 2020

Along a lane then of long views, old barns and a farmer who gave us a friendly greeting. Below Knipe Scar is a red phone box, which is now a community hub. A good use for it. And no, for fans of the film Withnail and I it’s not that phone box, which is below in the village – much of that cult film was shot in the valley here.

The Old Bridge (c) John Bainbridge 2020

There are some wonderful barns on the way, the kind of place I would have slept in my younger tramping days as I vagabonded my way around England. Back in Devon most have been converted into homes. Good here to see so many used for their original purpose, many still having the original animal stalls which can be Victorian or even older.B8

We wandered down to Bampton Grange, crossed the Lowther and walked back through Bampton and Helton. The tea rooms in Bampton are open, walker-friendly and recommended. We stopped for an ice cream and a friendly chat. Well worth going to for refreshments whether you are walking locally or have been up the higher mountains around Haweswater.

Askham Church (c) John Bainbridge 2020

Just making up our walk as we went along, we notched up ten miles of fairly easy walking, without much in the way of gradients. If you want to get a bit off the beaten track, then the paths and lanes around Bampton are well worth an explore.

Published by John Bainbridge

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

23 thoughts on “Walking in the Lowther Valley

  1. Seems as though people who rush through the Lowther Valley are missing a trick with Bampton. It looks a lovely place to wander around with plenty of interest to see and do. Love the idea of vagabonding around England!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t remember seeing any antiquities on Knipe Scar – but then I did it in a hurry while Richard waited in the car. I’d love to re-do it sometime from Bampton Grange side…

    I do like that area but I’m afraid I’m probably one of the guilty ones continuing on to the head of Haweswater as I do love those hills. The Outlying Wainwright book got me to do a bit more around that valley though which is good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a ring cairn stone circle. Hard to see, they say. Wainwright mentions in outlying fells. It’s a handy area for walks if you only have a spare couple of hours.


      1. I’ve never been to Haweswater, either, although have been up on the Nan Bield Pass from Kentmere and Kidsey Pike from Hartsop. Really need to explore the far eastern side of the Lakes more.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is definitely local to my mum, she lives in Askham. I will have to do this walk. Haven’t been to the tea room either. In fact I haven’t yet been up Knipe Scar. One day!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Its lovely to see photos and hear such wonderful comments about the area where we live. I am glad you enjoyed your walk in the Lowther Valley.

    I have a little bit of insider knowledge for any that are interested…

    The houses and barns are Georgian Longhouses, you are right John, definitely older than Victorian.

    The Stone Circle is very secretive and doesn’t shout about its whereabouts but the walk over Knipe Scar is worth it just for the views. Whale has largely been a quiet place to live especially in the winter. However, this year has seen a increase in the amount of tourists and walkers probably due to the current situation we find ourselves in and because Lowther have been promoting the Castle and gardens, which are lovely for adults and children.

    All the villagers love the little bridge and use it regularly but I just wish they had made a more aesthetic handrail don’t you? The bridge crosses what is known as Whale Beck which feeds into the River Lowther at the base of the hill which has been known to be home to kingfishers and otters on occasion.

    Whale village got its name due to the formation of the land resembling a Whale. Fences have been removed recently to enable the old view to become more prominent, eventually we may see what the estate managers have been talking about and it will be lovely to see.

    On a side note…there are plans to open a little gift shop in Whale, apparently they will be selling reclaimed wooden gifts, specialist greeting cards of local wildlife, Lake District Photography among lots of other charming things I am sure. It plans to open in the Autumn so if anyone is passing just drop in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Victoria, Thank you so much for so much useful information. It is indeed a beautiful area and one where we always enjoy a walk. Yes, a nicer handrail for the bridge would be a delight. We are very much looking forward to more walks in the valley and wish the new gift shop well. I much appreciate your local knowledge, regards John


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