Sunday, 18 October 2020

The Surprising Hills of South Lakeland

Lockdown, sensible precautions and a stuffed up leg has meant we've been exploring some very different parts of Cumbria recently.  To be fair, we started out in January with the intention of "not walking anywhere we've walked before" and that was all going rather well, up until mid March...  For a few months we kind of stuck to that theme by exploring all the paths we'd never taken through Eggerslack Woods - just over the road from us - then we gradually explored further afield and were about to hit the big hills again when 'leg-gate' stopped me in my tracks.  Literally.

So, low hills and easy toddles have been the order of the day.  The thing that we've noticed is that each time we pop out on the top of a local hillside is how surprised we are with the views.  I completely understand the draw of the high fells, but there is much joy and beauty to be found in the smaller hills, not to mention a lot more peace and quiet.

The other big plus is that many of the smaller hills have benches - very handy for resting dodgy legs as well as making perfect picnic spots.  And on top of all that, there's a lot of limestone in the South Lakes so, even where benches are scarce, there's still somewhere to sit.

Anyway, enough waffle, here are five of our favourite small, local, hills.

Whitbarrow Scar

Whitbarrow Scar was one of the first hills I climbed in the area.  When we were camped up here and looking for a house we were staying nearby and often tootled up to the summit.  There are several routes to the top and, once you're up there, there's a long undulating ridge of craggy limestone with extenstive views of the fells from the northern end and stunning views of Morecambe Bay from the southern tip.  Plus plenty of perfect picnic spots.  Honestly, we love it so much we were even up there on Christmas Day 2019 and enjoyed a turkey sandwich on the top.  Perfect!

Scout Scar

While we're on the subject of scars, the next one along from Whitbarrow is Scout Scar.  The big plus for us this year has been that Scout Scar requires very little effort for very big views.  The car park is an easy walk from the main ridge and many's the time we've stopped off there on the way home from somewhere else to finish our flask of tea on one of the perfectly positioned benches.  It's also 'juniper central' with dozens of juniper bushes scattered around the limestone scrub.  It's a popular local walk but there are plenty of criss-crossing footpaths and wide open spaces, so plenty of room for everyone. 

Hoad Hill

Certainly the most popular of all the hills in this blog, but it's the only one that has a scale replica of a lighthouse on it, so how can I miss it out?  The thing with The Hoad is that most folks go up and down the same route at the front, which is all well and good as the views are superb, but they miss out on a very lovely, and gentle, descent around the back.  Honestly, it's really easy to spot on an OS map and very easy to follow - it will lead along a lovely enclosed path and past a fabulously detailed infoboard telling you all you need to know about the area.  Not that my life revolves around tea and cake, but around the foot of the pepperpot (as it's known locally) there is plenty of seating so you can put your feet up and enjoy the view.

The Helm

Sorry for the rubbish photo, but the weather was very grey that day.  The views, however, were still stunning!  The Helm is tucked away to the south east of Kendal, just above Oxenholme (look for the station on the map and you'll soon spot The Helm!).  There's limited parking along the tiny road alond the base of the hill and plenty of paths leading up to the summit.  Once up there the panoramic views will definitely take you by surprise - even on a cloudy day there were perfect moody views of the Langdale Pikes, the Howgills, Hutton Roof Crags and Morecambe Bay.  I'd have to mark it down for picnic spots, but with Kendal on your doorstep you'll not be far from tea and cake.

Dixon Heights

Remember the end of lockdown, when everyone went a bit nuts and Cumbria was absolutely rammed with people?  Well, we went off for a full day hike around Dixon Heights (just before I stuffed my leg).  It's just above Lindale and is open access land with plenty of paths as well as lots of opportunities to make your own route.  We spent over 6 hours wandering around in the sunshine, enjoyed a long lazy lunch and generally had a fabulous time and didn't see another soul all day. Call me antisocial but, for me, that was pretty much a perfect day.

We absolutely LOVE exploring hidden away corners and finding out more about them.  There are loads of great stories and ideas for places to visit in our books - please feel free to browse our bookshelves here.  I know they are available elsewhere online, but we are a small local business and would really appreciate your support. Thank you.