A Winter Walk in Eden
In my book “Wayfarer’s Dole” I recall a very wet walk I did in Cumbria’s Eden Valley about ten years ago. I’ve done the walk a couple of times since, though not for a couple of years. But in the aftermath of the floods, when the River Eden deluged the little town of Appleby and Carlisle, and a lot of places in between, I thought it worth doing again.
The eight-mile walk starts on the river bank, below the walls of Appleby’s castle, once the home of the Lady Anne Clifford, following the Eden through meadows and woodland to the little village of Ormside. Having seen this river sweep through the shops and homes of Appleby during the December torrents it was hard to believe that the now placid river had the power. Despite the flooding and the weeks of rain, the path by the river offered quite good going, though you could see from the swept up undergrowth just how high its waters had come.
Passing under a viaduct of the Settle to Carlisle railway, we reached the little village of Ormside, with its wonderfully simple little church. The building dates back to at least Norman times. The mound on which it stands is even older. Nearby is Ormside Hall, incorporating a 14th century Pele Tower. The church itself was probably constructed with defence in mind, for Scots raiders were wont to come this way. People probably lived here even before Vikings came to settle in the Eden Valley. The famous Anglo-Saxon Ormside Bowl was found here in 1823. It’s in the British Museum, though Cumbrians would quite like it back!
A stretch of lane walking through the village brought us to an isolated house called “Donkey’s Nest” (Porch Cottage on the Ordnance Survey map). A footpath opposite took us down to the picturesque Rutter Falls. When I did the walk described in “Wayfarer’s Dole” there was a very hospitable tea shop there. Sadly, it is long gone.
Rutter Force is a picture-postcard setting for an old mill and a ford. A place where the waters of the Hoff Beck tumble over a rocky ledge.
We wandered down the Hoff Beck to the little hamlet of Hoff, just really a pub and a few cottages, though there are plenty of ducks on the beck to keep you amused.
On then to Cuddling Hole, where wooded cliffs rise high above its waters. I’ve never been able to discover just how Cuddling Hole got its name. If you know please do leave a comment.
We left the Hoff Beck at Bandley Bridge, following the footpaths back into Appleby. As we crested a grassy ridge the great sweep of the North Pennines came into view, with vistas of the dramatic High Cup Nick and Murton Pike still covered in snow.
You can read more about the places mentioned in this walk in my book “Wayfarer’s Dole” now out in paperback and as an Ebook on Kobo, Nook and Kindle. Just click on this link for more information.