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Whittington Without a Cat

A walk from Kirkby Lonsdale, returning along the banks of the River Lune.

Distance 4.8 miles (7.7km)

Minimum time 2hrs 30min

Ascent/gradient 197ft (60m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths A little overgrown and indistinct in patches, quiet lanes and tracks, plenty of stiles

Landscape Rolling hills, farmland, riverbank, good distance views

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales - Southern & Western

Start/finish SD 615782

Dog friendliness On lead through farmland

Parking Devil's Bridge car park, Kirkby Lonsdale (free of charge)

Public toilets None on route


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1 From the west bank of the river, a few paces downstream from Devil's Bridge, take the path signposted 'Whittington' across a park with picnic tables to the A65. Cross over, go through a narrow meadow and between houses and almost immediately cross the B6254. As you enter another meadow, go uphill, keeping the walled wooded area on your left. Yellow markers and a sign to Wood End help you find the route. Keep on over the brow of the hill and straight ahead through two stiles. Turn left at another gap stile into the farmyard at Wood End Farm.

2 Turn right on the farm track towards white painted Wood End Cottage. Go left in front of the cottage along an overgrown, walled path down to Sellet Mill. A stream comes in from the left and tries to take over the path, but drier ground is just around the corner. The path opens out by the mill race with good views of Ingleborough over the water.

3 Turn right by the cluster of homesteads and walk up the field, keeping the fence to your left, until level with the end of a garden. Go left through a yellow marked gate and walk straight across a small field to another marked gate followed immediately by a shallow stream. Bear right to go round Sellet Bank, aiming initially for the corner of a hedge under a row of pylons. Continue with the hedge to your right, taking time to look back at good views of Leck Fell and Barbon Fell.

4 Go through a yellow marked stile on your right, then bear left round a wooded area. Facing Sellet Hall, turn right adjacent to the fenced driveway following the marker arrows, then keep on over the corner of the field to cross a stile and drop down a couple of steps to the road at a T-junction. Turn left along Hosticle Lane towards Whittington village.

5 The tall trees of Hagg Wood are away on your right and beech and hawthorn hedges are beside you as you follow the lane down to Whittington.

6 Go left at the T-junction for a few paces then cross the road and turn right over a pebbled mosaic at the entrance to the Church of St Michael the Archangel. Keep the square bell tower on your left before descending stone steps to go through a narrow stile and the modern graveyard. Proceed through a gate in the left corner and cross straight over two small fields to a stone stile leading to a narrow, walled lane that leads on to Main Street. Turn right, in front of a lovely building dated 1875, and on through the village past the village hall and the Dragon's Head pub.

7 At a sharp right bend on the edge of the village turn left along a sandy track, passing a farm and tennis courts. Follow the lane as it bends its way between fields to reach a pair of gates. Go through the gates on the left. Bear left to pick up the riverside walk - the Lune Valley Ramble - back to the A65 bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale. Go through a gate and up steps to the left of the parapet. Cross the road, drop down the other side to cross the park at the start of the walk.

It's something of a revelation, to escape the weekend motorcycle congregation on Devil's Bridge and take this circular walk over rolling hills, through farmland and woods, to the worthy village of Whittington then to return along the banks of the lovely Lune. You pass close to Sellet Mill, its huge waterwheel, incorporated within the building, was reputedly once the second largest in the country. Corn was ground at the mill until its closure in the 1940s. Sellet is a word you'll come across often on this walk and is apparently an old local word for drumlin (a small rounded hill formed by glacial deposits). Your next Sellet is Sellet Bank, which appears to be a large drumlin. The walk takes you around its base and eventually to Sellet Hall. Built as a farm in 1570 by the Baines family, the hall was possibly used at sometime as a hospital, as it is situated at the end of Hosticle Lane - hosticle is an old dialect word for hospital. You return to Kirkby Lonsdale along the banks of the River Lune, following part of the Lune Valley Ramble.

A simple spring in a field at Newbiggin-on-Lune is the source of the beautiful River Lune, which eventually flows into Morecambe Bay and the Irish Sea to the north of Cockersand Abbey. The river has inspired many artists, most famously J M W Turner, who visited Kirkby Lonsdale in 1818 and subsequently included the river in two of his paintings .The riverbed is rocky under Devil's Bridge, so called because it was supposedly provided by the Devil to enable a poor widow to reach her cow on the other side of the river. In return for this the Devil was to acquire the soul of the first being to cross the bridge. The widow's only other possession was a small dog. According to a popular poem from the 1820s, she threw a bun across the bridge and the poor hound scampered after it, thus thwarting the Devil and saving her own soul. This graceful, three arched monument probably dates from the 14th century and no longer has to support the busy A65, which has had its own river crossing a short way downstream since the 1930s.

What to look for

Leck Fell at 2,058ft (627m) is the highest point in present day Lancashire (although Coniston Old Man is the highest point in the 'old' Lancashire). The fell is worth visiting for its limestone scenery and archaeological sites, while below ground is a popular network of caving systems.

Where to eat and drink

There are usually a couple of vans at Devil's Bridge, one selling ices and the other drinks and snacks. The Dragon's Head pub in Whittington opens from 12 noon to 3pm every lunchtime except Monday and serves a selection of hot and cold food.

While you're there

Visit Kirkby Lonsdale which has a market charter from the 13th century, and still holds a weekly market, around the unusual 20th-century butter cross, every Thursday. There are some fine 17th- and 18th-century buildings and the famous views from the churchyard.


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