Grevel Lindop

Poet, biographer, critic, essayist and writer on just about everything

A Day on Lakeland Limestone

Finally did something I’d meant to do for years, and explored that great limestone ridge you see over the M6 as you approach the Kendal turnoff.

Limestone ridge across the summit of Hutton Roof Crags

It was during last week’s hot spell. I had to go up for a meeting in Kendal, and it ended at 12.15 so I drove over to Hutton Roof, parked, and set off up the path towards Hutton Roof Crags. A wonderful walk: early purple orchids alongside the path, wild garlic and bluebells under the hawthorn trees, and a cuckoo calling.

Half Barbara Hepworth, half Easter Island: boulder on the summit of the crags

The path leads up onto a gently-swelling tract of heathland crowned with limestone pavement: great irregular slabs of blue-grey-white stone like gnarled jigsaw pieces with strange holes and gulleys worn through them by millennia of rain.
I headed over the top and down through scrubby woodland, crossed the road and went on over the Holmepark Fell, another gently-rounded limestone summit with even stranger outcrops and shapes. I carried on until I could see the M6 – not because it’s a pretty sight, but because I wanted to make a connection with the many times I’d looked up while driving north and wondered what it must be like there on top.

Faces in the rock: towering crags on Holmepark Fell

The view was splendid – an inlet of the sea that I suppose would be Warton Sands, and on the other side the Howgill Fells, with a rolling green south Lakeland country in between.
I came down by curving around and walking alongside the enormous Clawthorpe Quarry and retraced my steps over Hutton Roof Crags, which looked completely different heading the other way. Somehow the whole area shows you a different aspect of Lakeland too: quieter, weirder, with a different kind of beauty. I feel pulled to go back there already, though it’s hard to say why.