Five Fabulous Cumbria Walks East of the M6

By Beth Pipe

The Lake District National Park is probably the thing Cumbria is best known for, yet it only accounts for around one third of the county. The area to the east of the M6 also accounts for around a third of the county but is a lot less visited, which is a shame because there are some absolutely stunning walks there. It also has a number of wonderful small towns and villages and it’s a lot less hilly, making it perfect for family outings. Working from North to South, here are five of my favourites:


Untitled-5 (1).jpgThe village of Wreay really is only just on the east of the M6 south of Carlisle, but it is a truly fascinating place to visit. If you start at the striking church next to the village green, you should be able to pick up a walking guide which will take you all around the centre of the village and the outlying areas of interest. The church, and many other interesting features in the village, are all the work of Sarah Losh, a remarkable woman who transformed the village during the 1800s. The church is based on a Roman Basilica and there are so many fascinating features to find, it should keep you busy for a good couple of hours. Once you’re done, there is also an excellent pub where you can warm up with a pie and a pint. You can find out a lot more about Sarah Losh and download a walking guide here.

Ties in perfectly with: Settle to Carlisle Way

Long Meg and Lacy’s Caves

Untitled-5 (2).jpgThese two striking landmarks are very close to each other, and there’s a nice circular walk starting and ending at Little Salkeld that links the two (take a look at an OS Map and it’s very easy to spot). Long Meg is one of the largest stone circles in the country and dates back to 1500BC. It is shrouded in folklore ancient and modern, with even recent visitors claiming the energy from the stones is so great that all their photos were blurred (I must remember that excuse!). Lacy’s Caves were created by the personal servant of Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Lacy, who owned the nearby hall. The servant was apparently an army deserter and rather than turn him in, Lacy put him to work carving the caves. The church in nearby Kirkoswald is also worth a visit to see the bell tower on a hill, nearly 200m away from the church.

Ties in perfectly with: Settle to Carlisle Way

Cautley Spout

Untitled-5 (3).jpgJust north of Sedbergh, at the foot of the Howgills, is Cautley Spout, England’s highest “above ground” waterfall. If you don’t fancy the challenging climb to the top, then you can enjoy a gentle stroll from the road to the base of the waterfalls, as there are plenty of information boards filling you in on the fascinating local history – there’s also a tiny but atmospheric temperance bar, where you can enjoy cordial, teas and cakes as you wallow in a little local history. If you do make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded with some fine views, as well as a piece of Andy Goldsworthy art in the form of a rebuilt sheepfold just past the top of the falls. To be honest, we didn’t realise it was a work of art the first few times we visited, but we did notice how it made an excellent windbreak when having our lunch...

Ties in perfectly with: Dales High Way

Kirkby Lonsdale

Untitled-5 (4).jpgThis is a very popular spot, especially with bikers at the weekends, but there should be something there to keep everyone happy. The village can trace its routes all the way back to the Neolithic Period (around 7000 years ago) and Casterton Circle, just above the village, is an ancient stone circle with lovely views. The town grew around a natural crossing point for the River Lune, first the ford and later Devil’s Bridge – so-called apparently because the devil built it as part of a deal with an old lady who’d lost a cow. There’s also Ruskin’s View to admire, just beyond the beautiful church of St Mary. I’ve always thought it was unfair to call this Ruskin’s View – the view was originally painted by JMW Turner, which inspired Ruskin to visit.  He declared the view to be one of the loveliest in the world, but was rather rude about the town and the people who lived there.

Ties in perfectly with: Alternative Coast to Coast

Hutton Roof Crags

Untitled-5 (5).jpgThese tower over the M6 at Junction 26 and are always a very welcome sign that I’m nearing home, but as well as being a reassuring landmark, they are also geologically important. They are one of the finest examples of limestone pavement in the whole of the UK and are home to a huge variety of rare and endangered plants and animals. These days Cumbria Wildlife Trust look after the nature reserve there, and you can find out a lot more about the natural flora and fauna here. There are lots of routes up onto the crags – if you just want a short walk then head up from Hutton Roof village, but if you’re up for something longer, there’s a nice long route starting and ending at The Plough in Lupton, where you can enjoy a sumptuous meal once you’re done.

Ties in perfectly with: Alternative Coast to Coast

Originally published 17/12/18

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