Ramblin’ Rosie: Lowther Park

Sunday, 1 June 2008


The weather forecast on Friday said it was going to be sunny and warm today, so as well as packing the usual extra layers (the weather being a law unto itself in the Lake District) I had my shorts on, ready to strip off my jogging pants when it got overly warm.

I needn’t have bothered. In Pooley Bridge, at the northern end of Ullswater, it was overcast and muggy, but by the time we’d climbed a little way up the skirts of Askham Fell there were spots of drizzle that grew more and more insistent and by the time we reached Ketley Gate, at the old boundary between Cumberland and Westmorland, it was steady and insidiously wetting. This is the Lakes, after all.

Well, no, today’s walk wasn’t really in the Lake District, although it began beside a lake right at the north-eastern corner of the district. From there we struck east and south into the modest moorland south of Penrith, taking our lunch break under a welcome stand of sheltering trees under the scrutinising gaze of Swaledale sheep. From there we dropped down through a grassy common with gorse bushes in full, glorious, flower to the pretty, but decidedly un-Lakeland, village of Askham (with an h to avoid confusion with the not-very-pretty little town of Askam near Barrow.)

From Askham we crossed the River Lowther by the old stone bridge and passed into Lowther Park. It’s a classic piece of eighteenth-century emparkment, and to paraphrase Miss Jean Brodie, for those who like this kind of synthetic landscape, this is the kind of thing they like. Me, I’m not a fan. I prefer the wild moor, even though strictly speaking that’s just as synthetic. This looks like a painting, which of course was the whole idea. I tend to feel, too, that this is actually common land stolen from the people:

They hang the man, and flog the woman
Who steals the goose from off the common,
But let the greater criminal loose
Who steals the common from the goose

It’s all pleasing to the eye I suppose. There was no room for the lower orders in these vistas of course, and they were swept away into estate villages like Hackthorpe, on the A6 south of Penrith. Out of sight of the Big House. Hackthorpe was formally our destination, and because we had taken a more northerly route than the other two groups we had a bit of a wait for the coach to take us to Shap to join up with them. Unlike some others I eschewed the temptations of the (allegedly) legendary Shap Chippy, and a number of us spent an agreeable hour in the basic Crown Inn. Cheers!

It was a good walk. The rain was never unpleasant and in fact it freshened things up a bit. It would have been an ordeal on a day as warm and humid as yesterday was, as we never gained very much height, but the rain kept things bearable.


2 Responses to “Ramblin’ Rosie: Lowther Park”

  1. Ashtonian Says:

    Whose thumbprint is that ?

  2. enitharmon Says:

    What, that blob on the top left corner? It’s a glitch in the Nikoff, I tried cleaning the lens but I can’t get rid of it.

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