Lake District Walk - Lindale, High Newton and Newton Fell
PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 January 2014 | UPDATED: 16:44 19 January 2016
Heading for the Lake District from the south usually means leaving the M6 at Junction 36 and using the A590. Those who are aiming for the fleshpots of Windermere and Ambleside keep their foot down but those wanting Newby Bridge and what the signposts insist on calling the Lake District Peninsulas turn off at the Levens interchange and set their course westwards.
Soon the great bulk of Whitbarrow dominates the scenery to the right of the hectic dual carriageway and then after the Meathop roundabout the A590 does a sweeping curve, by-passing the quiet village of Lindale to climb the steep incline to Barrow Banks. This road has been upgraded to neat motorway standard taking the increasing volume of traffic towards Barrow and the western coast and those wanting to reach Lindale have a minor turning to look out for to bring them down into the village.
The wooded ridge to the east of the A590 is Newton Fell, a jumble of knolls and lumps which the OS map marks as Bishops Tithe Allotment. The term ‘allotment’ is not used in the modern sense of plots for individuals to grow runner beans in but land that fell within the bishops’ power to allocate for grazing or cultivation. I don’t think much cultivation would be possible on this impenetrable terrain. Wainwright’s book The Outlying Fells has a chapter on Newton Fell and as usual he doesn’t go over the top: ‘Fellwalkers (especially ancient ones) will eye it with favour: although not high its undulating skyline promises an interesting ramble’.
Our walk starts in Lindale where the car park of the Royal Oak offers convenient parking. It’s always best to ask permission if there is anyone about. Walk up the brow towards the A590 and take an insignificant lane on the left when you see a bench with a plaque to the memory of Geoffrey and Norah Harrison.
This is shown on the map as Hollow Lane, another example of the term for original tracks worn down by centuries of cart wheels until the banks on either side create the effect of a tunnel with the vegetation eventually meeting overhead. Robert MacFarlane’s book ‘Holloway’ defines it as ‘a route that centuries of foot-fall, hoof-hit, wheel-roll and rain run have harrowed deep into the bedrock’. Tarmac has largely eradicated these ancient ways but the names live on. The hedgerows were abundant when I came this way, a miscellany of campion, poppy, vetch, dog daisies buttercup and speedwell reminding us of Nature’s variety. They are unlikely to be as verdant when this walk is published.
Stay on the lane, ignoring a left turn signposted Hampsfield and keep ahead on the Cartmel road, the lane descending gently towards wonderful countryside with a glimpse of the Langdale Pikes in the distance.
At the next junction keep left on a busier road known as Old Town Hill until you see a signpost on the left pointing to Hampsfield Hall. This isn’t our way but opposite on the right a less obvious signpost points to a bridleway running between walls but much overgrown. Push your way through and in half a mile emerge onto a lane where we turn right.
We begin to climb an incline to a farm called Head House and after passing the entrance to a kennels come to a T-junction. Turn left then right to cross a bridge over the A590 and walk down into the now by-passed village of High Newton to find the delightful pub, The Crown. To our disappointment they don’t open for lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays out of season and we were just getting over the shock when the landlord appeared and offered to bring us a pint outside in the true spirit of Lakeland hospitality. That’s worth a plug for his excellent establishment any day.
Our walk continues uphill out of High Newton and on meeting a fork in the road keeps right, soon beginning a gradual descent by twists and turns to the valley bottom and a crossroads with a signpost indicating left towards Cartmel and right towards Lindale. Go right on what is known as Back o’ th’ Fell Road, a perfect name for it. Stay on it until you notice a sign on the left hand side saying Reuben’s Orchard.
Nearly opposite an inconspicuous footpath sign beckons and this is our point of access to Newton Fell. Now, you need to think before embarking on this part of the walk. There is certainly a way over the fell but undergrowth and neglect have obscured any obvious footpath and it requires some ingenuity to force a way through. A compass bearing would help, the direction 230 degrees south west.
Once you reach the top of the fell it opens out to superb vistas of the Kent Estuary and Morecambe Bay and the tree-fringed shores of Silverdale and Arnside and the heights of Arnside Knot and Warton Crag enhancing the view. If you’d rather not tackle this challenge, stay on the road which leads into Lindale village and by turning right you can get back to the Royal Oak.
We persevered and descending from Dixon Heights came across an encampment consisting of a canvas tent and a yurt from which a young man emerged dressed only in boxer shorts. My trusty companion Jim addressed him. ‘Is this an original yurt?’
The young man pondered this question and replied ‘What do you mean, original? It is a yurt.’
Jim gave this some thought and said ‘I thought it must be one.’ The young man closed the conversation. ‘It is a yurt,’ he affirmed.
We passed by. ‘There you are,’ I said. ‘It is a yurt.’
‘I did wonder,’ said Jim.
An obvious track with tyre marks leads downhill and by turning left at the bottom we reach the buildings of Eller How and take their access lane to meet the dual carriageway. Drivers here seem to mistake it for Brands Hatch, putting their foot to the floor, making the crossing over two carriageways extremely hazardous. However it has to be done and there is always a gap eventually. Once across, walk along the kerb and descend Lindale Brow to return to the car.
Area of walk: Lindale, High Newton and Newton Fell
Map: OS Explorer OL7 The English Lakes SE
Distance: 6 miles
Time to allow: 3-3.5 hours
Refreshments: The Crown Inn, High Newton, The Royal Oak, Lindale.
Further reading: The Outlying Fells of Lakeland by A.Wainwright.
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