The Lake District Guide

Lake District Valley and Low-level Walks

Gummer's How

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Gummer's How to St Anthony's Chapel (Cartmel Fell)

4 miles [6.5 km]

This is a walk for connoisseurs of the countryside. Lancashire's Lake District consists very largely of woodland, with grey and green-lichened crags bulging out of the fields and low moors that break up the woods. Landowners since last century have varied and mellowed the scene by adding artificial tarns and softwood plantations. This walk, which passes by two delightful tarns, is rather typical, and there are fine views across the unspoilt Winster valley. Allow plenty of time for dawdling to appreciate the view, watch the buzzards wheeling and enjoy the tranquillity of the old chapel of St Anthony's o' the Fell. The walk passes through farm land. If you take your dog it must be on a lead.

Drive up the road above the Gummer's How footpath. (See previous walk.) Drive over the top and down the other side a little way until a road appears on the right. Drive along it until a place can be found to park on the verge, without obstructing entrances. If impossible, drive to Gummer's How lay-bys and return here. Walk down the road to the farm yard of Sow How, go through the gate at the end, and soon there is a good track left across the field. Take this until you reach the tarn. This is an artificial lake, but it is a gem none the less, backed attractively by mixed woodland. This tarn, and the next, are private property, so if the weather is hot do not be tempted to jump in.

Walk along the dam and round towards the boathouse. Go on through the gap in the wall. The track leads up towards a wood and through a gate. Ignore this gate and pick up the path that leaves and bends right, parallel with the wall, to go through a gate ahead into another wood. Bend right round the swamp to the second tarn.

This tarn is another beauty. It is tiny but the background of reeds, willows, silver birch and alder, with the far back-cloth of larch and spruce, make it an attractive miniature. The path again goes along the dam. Go right to join a track. Turn left into the wood. The tree mixture here is of spruce and Douglas fir, with one Cyprus tree on the left as the track is joined.

Go through the gate at the end into the field. Follow the wall on the right until a lane is reached turning sharply right to a large barn. As you walk on past the barn you will notice a pleasant view right, to the end of the Winster valley. (The Winster is the old boundary between Lancashire and Westmorland.) Go through the gate onto the moor, bearing slightly right, then left. As you go upwards the view opens up right across the main Winster valley, criss-crossed with dry-stone walls and dotted with old farms. This airy place is the haunt of buzzards, our largest bird of prey next to the golden eagle. They can be recognised by their large flat wings, their end feathers spread like the fingers of a hand. Their flight is in long sweeping circles with hardly a wing movement. Their cry is a high mew, rather like a gull's but sharper and wilder.

The fell on the right of the background is Whitbarrow. Go through the gate and follow the track down to another gate. A tarmacadam road is reached. Turn right on this and walk with care as the road is narrow, until a roadway on left is reached with a signpost. A path will be seen (indicated) leading from here through grass and bracken following a wall downwards. The church is eventually reached after passing through a stone "pinch" stile, otherwise known as a "fat man's agony". The little church is popularly known as "St Anthony's of the Fell", built in the sixteenth century, solid and square like a local barn. There is a mounting-block and hitching post in the church yard. Go into the church which has some fifteenth -century glass and some glass of unknown antiquity. There is also a three-decker pulpit and some old pews. Note that the stained-glass picture of Saint Anthony bears the picture of a pig. There is literature about the church available inside.

Leave the churchyard by the lychgate and walk past the school. The shine on some of the rock outcrops opposite was put there by generations of children's sliding bottoms, for this was the children's playground. Follow the road up, until it joins the road at the top. Cross the road and climb the bank directly opposite to cross the wall stile. Climb up the field and after the first knoll on the left a stile can be seen in the wall; go over this. A green path goes ahead towards the wood. Follow this. It goes through the bracken and reaches a stile of "throughs" - that is, long slates which go right through the wall and are put in like steps. Over the stile is a distinct track into the pleasant mixed wood. Follow the track through and leave the wood via the stile with the iron bar. Very slightly left ahead is a green track which soon joins a hard distinct track. Follow this, right. The bridge a short way along here is a typical fell bridge, built solidly with two culverts. join the quiet macadam road and bear right through Foxfield Farm buildings, and on along a hard-core track by some very artistic rock outcrops. This track leads to Sow How and the lane where the car is parked.