Cistercian Way 3 : Dalton-in-Furness to Furness Abbey

Saturday 14th April 2018

I know time is said to pass more quickly as you get older but it has been so long since our previous stage of the Cistercian Way that it has now disappeared altogether from the OS map!

OS 2008

OS 2018

In fact it was almost exactly four years ago that we ended up in Dalton with a rather uncomplimentary comment about the east end of the town. The report concluded "Hopefully the west end, with its church and castle, will prove rather more attractive on the next stage".

Indeed it did.  The castle, more like a keep really, has been partially renovated with two floors open to the public.  The upper floor includes a strange set of creatures that I didn't understand.

More conventional were bits of armour and a set of boards commemorating the work of the artist George Romney (or George Rumney as he was before he started mixing with the London toffs).

He is buried in the churchyard, his grave being quite prominent (indeed most of the others have had their slabs removed and placed upright against the churchyard wall).

However whilst he, presumably, still lies there, his memorial seems to have been subverted by that of a descendant who also lies there and has caused the grave to be inappropriately aggrandised.  


As we stood there looking, the lady vicar emerged to see if we needed help. Margaret was surprised to discover that she knew her.  She had previously been vicar at Levens, officiating at several events that we had attended, and was also a member of the village book club which Margaret had briefly attended.

The church seemed surprisingly large inside with some fine stained glass windows but little else taking my eye.

Time had slipped away quite markedly and we needed to press on to reach the Abbey.  The trail initially is a bit scrappy through somewhat gypsy-like territory. However all the warnings about what the Staffordshire Bull Terrier might do to you evaporated when you met the poor old dog.  Very friendly and out of puff.

Eventually we could see the Abbey just a field or two away.  The official path required us to go through a tunnel under the railway.  The trouble was that it was full of water of unknown depth.  Instead we took a more direct route through a field, under a barbed wire and climbed up to the gate house track. Almost certainly a trespass but clearly we were far from being the first.  Talking later to Lucy, the lass who manages the Abbey, we concluded that this might be a reason why the Cistercian Way has vanished from the maps.

Outside the Abbey Grounds stands an hotel (although seemingly just the remnants of an even larger hotel).  However it has been shut for a dozen or more years and is in a sad state.

Inside the Abbey Grounds, there is a lot to see and absorb.  Superficially in my case, mainly looking for photo opportunities, but Margaret was diligently following the rather erudite guide book.  We were there a long time but it passed easily.

To return to Dalton we first walked along the road that circles the Abbey. This must be a great frustration to English Heritage as it is possible to have a great view of the Abbey for free.

Bow Bridge was a bit of a surprise. From its historic markings on the map, I had imagined something rather large but it was just a small but ancient cart bridge across a stream.

A bit of a climb took us up a hill nearly as far as Newton.  From the top there was a panoramic view over Barrow which, although not the prettiest of towns, is not without interest- the skyline being dominated by the nuclear submarine buildings.

Once back at Dalton we had one more decision to make.  Where to eat?  We decided on the Derby Arms at Witherslack.  It was strangely quiet for a Saturday night so the food came fast, which was just what we wanted and it tasted good. Which is also what we wanted.

What next for the Cistercian Way?  Check out this website in four years time. Hopefully it won't take us that long this time!

Don, Saturday 14th April 2018

Distance:  6.8 miles (20.6 cumulative)

 Photos have been gleaned from many sources although mostly from me!
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  These pages log
the progress of
Don and Margaret
along the
Cisterican Way