Little Salkeld

2/04/16 Little Salkeld Circular ‘A’ Ken Nevin ‘B’ Janet Heckels/Maria Regan

40 members set out on a very dull and damp morning. After a coffee stop in Barnard Castle in the rain, we continued along the A66 to Little Salkeld. The coach had to park on the roadside due to cars being parked in a lay by. 16 members set out along a path passing Salkeld Hall. This was the home of Samuel Lacy who in the eighteenth century, created the caves and who also tried to blow up the stone circle (both of which are seen later in the walk). The path came close to the Settle-Carlisle railway and then passed the derelict remains of an old gypsum mine. We walked through mature deciduous woodland with the mighty roar of the Riven Eden surging below. We spotted Long Meg viaduct which took four years to build with four of its seven pillars under water. The paths were very muddy as we made our way to Lacey’s Caves. The five rooms of the caves, cut out of the soft sandstone, are connected by flaring arches. Legend has it that Samuel Lacy paid a man to live as a hermit in the caves but they may in fact have been used to store food and wine. An undulating walk on clarty paths through Tib Wood followed then field paths alongside the river to reach Eden Bridge. A short stretch of road walking followed to Kirkoswald, where a delightful cross consisting of daffodils was growing in the churchyard, a cheerful sight on this drizzly rainy day. We passed an unusual bell tower and then spotted amongst the trees the remains of the thirteenth century Kirkoswald Castle as we negotiated our way through a very muddy field while being watched by an inquisitive herd of cows on the other side of the fence.. Further field tracks were followed and we stopped for a break next to a pond while trying to gain shelter under overhanging tree branches. We walked through the churchyard of St Michael’s at Addingham and observed the remains of a hammer-head cross opposite the main church door. After crossing fields we emerged on the site of Long Meg and her Daughters, a neolithic stone circle with nearly 70 stones, many of them fallen. Long Meg is a 12 ft high pillar of red sandstone with mysterious cup and ring marks. It stands apart from the large ring of massive stones, the daughters, composed of rhyolite, a kind of granite. We left the site via the farm access track with just a short walk back to Little Salkeld. Flowers: bluebell, butterbur, daffodil, dogs mercury, gorse, forget-me-not, harts tongue fern, larch flowers lesser celandine, opposite leaved golden saxifrage, snowdrop and wood anemone. Other: heron, lambs, mallards and oyster catchers.

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