Beacon Hill

Walk date – 21st July 2019

Distance – 5.5 miles

Weather – another gloomy and overcast day, no sun, windy

The forecast for yet more cloud, showers and generally gloomy weather was definitely uninspiring so we just had a short local walk today. We drove the twelve miles or so down to Orton having decided that we would take a walk up Beacon Fell. We had considered going over to it when we walked over Great Asby Scar in April 2017 but in the end we didn’t so, as the Lakeland fell tops were likely to be cloud covered today, we decided that this was just the sort of day for the short walk up to the commemorative monument on Beacon Fell, although the flat light and cloud cover meant it certainly wasn’t the best of days for photographs.


Orton – All Saints Church – Broadfell Farm – Orton Scar – Beacon Hill – The Thunder Stone – Bridleway below Knott – Knott Lane – B6261 – Orton

The South Sheet on the OL19 map ended at Beacon Hill and the next part of our route was overleaf on the North Sheet, isn’t it generally the case? Anyway, the first map shows the bulk of the route we took and the one beneath it shows the rest of the route going over to the Thunder Stone.

After parking the car in Orton we walked from Kennedy’s Chocolate Shop, in the middle of the village, up the hill for a view of All Saints Church. We arrived five minutes before the service began at 10.30 am and people were arriving for it so we didn’t go in for a look around. The building dates from the 13th century but there have been a few restorations since, both inside and out. In 2007 the tower was treated with a coat of lime plaster to help prevent damage from damp, the almost white colour making the tower visible for some distance around.

At the church gate we turned left and walked down to the end of the lane, which joins the B6260, where we turned left again, crossed the road and carried on until we reached the vicarage. At the vicarage a lane goes off to the right but before we turned down it we walked straight on for a few paces to get this shot of the front of the vicarage.

We then retraced our steps back to the start of the lane with this view of the vicarage as we walked up alongside it.

Its only a matter of a few paces until we reach the bridge over the beck and here we turn left and carry on up this lane, walking past some of the houses at the northern end of the village. Almost at the end of the little lane we take a left turn up a tarmac drive. It looks like the private drive to someone’s house but it is a public footpath nevertheless and leads to …..

….. the beginning of this old walled path winding through …..

….. a tunnel of greenery which was surprisingly dry underfoot given the rain we’ve had lately. This is a look back shortly after we began walking along it.

The old walled path eventually gives way to this wider green path which …..

….. eventually carries on alongside a clear stream a little further on. The walk so far has been quite flat but ahead the ground is rising gently.

On we go, just following the clear and easy path over the ever so slightly rising ground.

Broadfell Farm, nestling amongst the trees, comes into view a little further on …..

….. and as we approach it has a stillness about it which suggests that it may not be a working farm any more.

The path keeps to the left of the buildings and eventually we have a view of the front of the farmhouse. One of the upstairs windows was slightly ajar but there was no-one around and the whole place was deathly quiet, not even a dog barked as we walked through and everything looked very dilapidated and uncared for.

We veered away from the farm buildings towards the green path alongside the wall and eventually I looked back to see if anyone had emerged following our passage through the buildings. Not a soul was to be seen though. The white van was quietly going rusty although the blue car parked up over on the left looked in good repair and roadworthy. A strange sort of place, I thought.

A little further up and I took a look back at the Howgills across the gentle countryside of the Lune valley. The higher tops of the Howgills are smothered in cloud. We had briefly considered a walk over there today but one look at the low cloud base everywhere this morning soon changed our minds. The ground begins rising more beyond the farm but it isn’t steep by any means, there’s just a gentle gradient up to …..

….. this old lime kiln which is almost at the top of the hill.

The view of the Howgills across the Lune valley from the lime kiln …..

….. and from the same spot a view of the Shap fells over to my right.

From the lime kiln the path rises a short way over to left of it where we reached a metal gate. A group of walkers coming down towards it offered a chorus of cheerful “good morning’s”. From the gate the path zigs up to the right and after about a dozen or so steps we emerge at the point where the walker in the dark jacket can be seen. He’s just about to descend the same path with his companion, with the green pack, just a few steps behind him. More cheery greetings from both of them. We’ve reached the B6260 coming up from Orton which we could also have walked up but it wouldn’t have been quite so interesting. It can be quite busy too as its a decent road between Appleby and Tebay.

I crossed back over the road to join J who is making his way up beside the wall to the little rise on the skyline ahead. We’re beginning to feel the wind now we’re out of the shelter of the valley.

A look back to the point at which we emerged from the path onto the road, on the other side of the wall, roughly at the point where you can see the stretch of road between the white camper van in the middle and the tall tree to its left.

We approach the crest of the rise which is just about the only part of the walk which isn’t following a gentle gradient, its only a short pull up and could hardly be called excessively steep.

Once over the rise the monument comes into view and there’s just a very short and easy walk over to it.

It sits atop a low limestone escarpment, mostly grass covered, but a few of the scarps are visible here and there.

J studies the inscription set into the monument …..

….. and when he wanders off I took a shot of it and also …..

….. the inscription which tells you nearly all you need to know, it omits to mention that 1887 was Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee year. The loyal subjects of the time would have known that of course but never thought to mention it for future generations, so if anyone’s history dates were a little shaky walkers would be left scratching their head or Googling it on their iphone.

A summer’s day view across to Great Asby Scar and Knott. Blue skies and gentle, balmy breezes have been very thin on the ground just lately. It was very blowy up here so we didn’t stay long …..

….. I took another shot of the monument looking northwards and then we made our way back to the wall and carried on with our walk. We walked with the wall to our right until we came to a gate, passed through it and carried on with the wall now on our left until we came to …..

….. the Thunder Stone, a glacial erratic of pink Shap granite, put to good use as a support and buttress for the wall. I have seen photos of this before so I knew it wasn’t going to take our breath away and had it been lashing with rain we wouldn’t have bothered making the detour because its nothing out of the ordinary, the Bowderstone in Borrowdale it isn’t! Our walk over Great Asby Scar in April 2017 has a photo of another similar, and a little larger, erratic also with a wall built around it about a mile or so to the east, that one is known as Mitchell’s Stone.

We retrace our steps from the Thunder Stone back to the gate but this time we don’t pass through. Instead we leave the wall, bear left and follow a gently rising trod which is out of shot to the left. In this shot the monument on the Beacon Hill skyline is still just about visible.

The trod eventually widens out and the Howgills fill the skyline once again as we begin to descend the green path.

Limestone pavements in abundance on Great Asby Scar to our left as we descend …..

….. to the four-way signpost by the gate, with the lower slopes of Knott behind the wall.

The way signs are very weathered and hard to make out so its just as well we know where we’re going, through the gate and straight on …..

….. following the grassy path curving around the lower slopes of Knott. J’s jacket sleeves ballooning and hair blowing every which way in the strengthening wind.

The wind was a nuisance but it didn’t really spoil our very enjoyable tramp over these upland slopes.

Dry stone walls criss-crossing the ground and marking out the fields below Beacon Hill. Lovely open countryside which is wonderful to roam across and you can generally have it all to yourself. Other than the people I’ve already mentioned we’ve met no-one else.

That line of hollows on Knott came in handy when we reached them, they offered shelter from the wind and flat stones to perch on so we took a short coffee and snacks break and let the world roll by for ten minutes or so.

At the point marked ‘Resr’ on the map. The reservoir is up the slope and out of shot on the left but its an undergound one covered by an unattractive structure so I didn’t bother taking a shot of it, especially as the view ahead was much nicer. The path and wall drop down to Knott Lane, the narrow lane which is visible to the left of the big tree beside the wall, but before we reached the lane there was …..

….. a gate to go through and close by, hiding away between the tree and the sloping ground, this lime kiln. When descending from the gate a passing glance would have you thinking that it was just another piece of wall so it would be easy to pass by without a second look.

A look back at Knott as we reach Knott Lane. Our route map show a variety of routes and paths leading to and from Orton but we were feeling the occasional spits and spots of rain so rather than take any further scenic routes we stayed on the lane and carried on to meet the road at the end of it.

A look over to the Howgills as we walk the lane, by the time we reached the road at the end of it the rain set in so I put the camera away until it stopped.

Its only about a ten/fifteen minute walk back to Orton and by the time we were almost back in the village the rain had stopped so I took a last look across the fields from the road before we entered the village.

The charming double bridge over the beck in the village. Its Sunday afternoon and folks are out for a drive, or Sunday lunch, or a visit to the chocolate shop so there were plenty of cars going across in both directions. We walked a little way along the lane beside the beck …..

….. and crossed the footbridge back over the beck and into the village.

Orton village where we are the third car on the left beside the George Hotel, the chocolate shop car park further up where the light coloured car is parked on the opposite side was full when we arrived earlier. The road to the right, with the yellow roadworks barriers, is the one we walked up when we headed for the church as we started out. We sat outside the pub and enjoyed a drink before getting back in the car and going home. As we drove past the roadworks and up past the chocolate shop and its cafe its visitors were queueing out of the door. Hardly surprising though because they do make very nice chocolates. So that’s the end of our walk , quite short but very enjoyable especially since the soggy, cloudy weather we’ve had so far this last few weeks has restricted our walking lately. Its supposed to improve this coming week so, with fingers firmly crossed, we hope to get out again before much longer.