A few years ago, when we were walking the Quaker Trail from Sedbergh, we came across a little wood that was clearly going to be grand for bluebells. We were there at the wrong time of the year, but always promised ourselves that we’d come back to see the bluebells. So the other day we did.
The first part of our walk was a reprise of the Quaker Trail (you can get a leaflet from the Sedbergh Tourist Information Centre, or online). Down through Sedbergh School to the pretty hamlet of Birks, then along field paths to the hamlet of Brigflatts.
The Quaker meeting house at Brigflatts dates back to 1675 and is situated in a most peaceful garden. It features is a lovely poem by the modernist poet Basil Bunting, who is buried in the nearby Quaker burial ground.
It is still in use for Quaker meetings on Sunday mornings. The area around the Howgills has a strong Quaker tradition. George Fox, the founder of Quakerism held a packed meeting not far away on the slopes of Master Knott, using the rocks now known as Fox’s Pulpit – see the Quaker Trail information if you want to extend this walk to get there.
Brigflatts is certainly a place where you can sit quietly and contemplate.
Up to the road then, to Ingmire Back Lane, one of the most picturesque paths in the district, especially last week with bluebells and fresh green leaves on the beeches. Here there are two paths, The public Back Lane and the private way to Ingmire Hall. The private way looking almost as delightful as the right of way.
We then faced a stretch of road walking to St Gregory’s Church in the valley of the River Lune. What you see today is mostly from the 1860s, and was used for scripture readings for the navvies who were building the Ingleton Branch railway line. It is redundant now and maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust. The glorious stained glass windows show local scenes of nature.
But what a pity that you have to walk along the road to get there, without making a lengthy rights of way detour right around the policies of Ingmire Hall. Could not the landowner create a footpath inside their boundary from the top of Ingmire Back Lane? There isn’t continuous traffic, but it is bendy and narrow for pedestrians and vehicles.
On then to Lincoln’s Inn Bridge, which dates to the 17th century, crossing the River Lune at a place which was once the boundary between Westmorland and Yorkshire. The nearby building was once an inn but is now a farm. Cross the bridge carefully, avoiding cars – it’s very narrow.
Just past the old inn a footpath heads steeply uphill through the fields and over a rise, crossing another minor road. A further path leads up to Hawkrigg Wood – and this is where we found our bluebells.And glorious they were, the camera lens doesn’t do them justice. A very narrow path leads up through the wood – please do stick to it and don’t trample the bluebells. Every bit as good as we anticipated.
We returned the same way, past Lincoln’s Inn Bridge and St Gregory’s, just into Slacks Lane, taking the footpath up through Underwinder and then down Howgill Lane back into Sedbergh. A quiet lane, well worth walking because of the wonderful view you get across the district.
And there was a bonus in the second-hand bookshop at the tourist information centre. We found two lovely walking guides (to the Peak District and South-East England) dating from the 1930s at bargain prices. I collect walking and trespassing memorabilia and these were very welcome and readable additions to my collection.
The bookshops of Sedbergh are well worth a browse.