Cistercian Way 2 : Ulverston to Dalton-in-Furness

Saturday 19th April 2014

The Monks used to cross the Leven estuary on foot and this is given as an option for the Cistercian Way.  The other option is to take the train from Cark to Ulverston.  Surprise, surprise, we opted to avoid a wet and dangerous route partly as the dry bits we had already covered on the Cumbria Coastal Way but we didn’t want to experience sinking into unpleasant wetness.  However, whilst not exactly in the same league dangerwise, there would be a particularly sinking into unpleasant wetness to be endured on what was otherwise an interesting leg.

Actually, our train journey was from Dalton-in-Furness so that we could walk back to the car.  Whilst there was a chill wind, it was a lovely day.  It was also Easter Saturday and, as expected, it proved to be a far quieter outing than had we ventured into the Lakes.

The wait at the train station was enlivened by several paintings by village children that gave their interpretation of portraits by George Romney, who had been born there.

We alighted at Ulverston. After a short stretch through fields we arrived at Swarthmore Hall. I was looking forward to looking round this ancient building with its connections to the early Quaker, George Fox.  However, although the guide book says it opens on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, that is not now correct.  Saturday has been swapped to Sunday so we were unable to look round.  Another time perhaps.

Nearby is an old Quaker Meeting House, the key to which, the book told us, is available from 4 Rakehead Cottages.  We peeped through the window of the church but what we could see did not inspire us to disturb the cottagers, if indeed the key still resides there.

The Way continues across fields and alongside what might have been an ancient fort or maybe the large limestone rocks naturally formed the curved base to the mound.

Who knows?  But they proved useful to sit on whilst having a sandwich.

Next is Great Urswick.  The Way takes the western side of Urswick Tarn thereby avoiding the village.  We preferred the opposite and were glad that we did.  There are several interesting old buildings and a very welcoming pub- the Derby Arms .

The landlord cheerfully provided tea and biscuits for us to consume whilst we sat outside in the sun. He proved to be the first person we have met that had actually heard of the Cistercian Way. Inside, there were several friendly locals.  Just how a village pub should be.

Opposite the pub is what used to be the Coot on the Tarn, a once well regarded fine dining and wedding reception destination.  Now it stands empty and deserted, entrance blocked and vegetation encroaching.

Google has a Right Move search result saying “The site currently comprises a large tarmac parking area and the building which was formerly the Coot on the Tarn Restaurant. The building is to be dismantled ........”

However, clicking the link, it seems that the page has been removed.

NorthWest evening mail tells the tale of brides having their wedding receptions cancelled when the Coot closed.

One good, one bad so far but the next building we entered definitely fell in the first category- St Mary and St Michael Church.  There were several friendly ladies preparing this ancient building for Easter Sunday. They kindly gave Margaret a chocolate egg.

We agreed that we could happily live in Great Urswick were it closer to Kendal.

Unsuspecting of what lay ahead, we left Great Urswick watched curiously by some pretty calves.  Did they know that at Little Urswick we would have to pass through the worst kept farm we have seen in a long time.

Sadly, after passing through a most unpleasant litter strewn yard, we emerged by what could be a really attractive dwelling but is currently an ivy covered near ruin, right in the centre of the village, overlooking the green.

We agreed that we could not live happily in Little Urswick whilst in that state.

The guide book says to cross over the green by the village school and the Swan Inn but we saw neither, just some modern houses presumably on the site of one or the other.  

We found the footpath, lost it then refound it only to discover that the exit to another farm-litter-strewn bridle path was through the largest and deepest pond of cow plop I have ever seen other than in a midden.  Some of it looked deceptively dry but it was just crust hiding more than a foot of you know what.  I emerged like a walking cess pit.  Fortunately, having seen my misfortune, Margaret was able to discover a longer and illegitimate way round that preserved her fragrancy.

One more field of cow was enough for us.  We then took a road detour which added some distance and took us round the wrong side of Standing Tarn and by a strange structure which looked as if someone had started to build a bridge then the work halted.

This brought us safely to Dalton.  The east side of town is a disappointment.  Quite run down.  Hopefully the west end, with its church and castle will prove rather more attractive on the next stage.

Don, 19th April 2014


Distance:  8.1 miles (13.8 cumulative)

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  These pages log
the progress of
Don and Margaret
along the
Cisterican Way

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