A Walk to Black Dub and the Oddendale Stone Circle

A walk to where Charles II rested on his way to defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, the course of a Roman road, a prehistoric stone circle and a very old and well used track. There’s a lot to see on this short walk from Crosby Ravensworth – and we picked a beautiful if freezing day for our ramble.

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Black Dub (c) John Bainbridge 2017

Despite being in the vicinity of the Coast to Coast Path this remote area is much quieter than the nearby Lake District. We hardly saw another walker all day. But there are excellent and far reaching views, both towards the Lake District mountains and over the Eden Valley to the Pennines.

It’s really a continuation of the walk we did from Crosby Ravensworth a couple of weeks ago to see the Harberwain stone circles. The enterprising rambler could incorporate the two.

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On the Fell Track (c) John Bainbridge 2017

Leaving the village, we set up through Slack Randy (and I’d still love to know why it’s called that) on to Crosby Ravensworth Fell. It was biting cold, but the coolness of the air gave us the far-reaching views and made for good crisp moorland walking.

We soon struck the headwaters of a little beck which eventually becomes the River Lyvennet. Not far from its source is the monument to the 1651 visit of Charles II and his troops. We hadn’t been here for a few years and the inscription on the monument – put here in Victorian times by the sculptor Thomas Bland of Reagill – has much faded. However, the inscription reads:

Here, at Black Dub, the source of the Lyvennet, Charles II regaled his army on their march from Scotland August 8th, A.D. 1651.

Black Dub is now so quiet and remote it’s hard to imagine a crowd of people here at all, let alone a martial gathering. They were, of course, defeated at the Battle of Worcester. Some of them might have fled back this same way.

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Oddendale Stone Circle (c) John Bainbridge 2017

We took a circuitous route up around Coalpit Hill, across which runs the Roman road known as Wicker Street. This route, much of which is now hard to follow, ran from near Manchester to Brough. In its way it is as lonely as the more famous High Street, though you have to use your imagination quite a bit to picture the legions marching this way.

Nor far from the hamlet of Oddendale, is a stone circle, though its impressiveness is reduced by the lank and clinging yellow moor grass. It dates to around 2,500 BC and was probably part of the collection of connected monuments between here and Shap. Excavations have shown evidence of two concentric circles of wooden posts, an early Bronze Age ring cairn and a stone outer circles.

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Oddendale (c) John Bainbridge 2017

It’s good that it has survived, because many of the Shap monuments haven’t – a pity, because together it would have been one of the most impressive prehistoric sites in Britain, but the Oddendale circle gives a feeling of what there once was.

Oddendale itself is a hamlet lost in time. We followed the bridleway leading from it back to Crosby Ravensworth.

Now this is a track, still well-used today, where you are treading in the footsteps of centuries of wanderers. At one point the path has worn down into a deep and grassy hollow, lined with great boulders – another reason why we should defend the original lines of our pathways.

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On the old track (c) John Bainbridge 2017

And it makes for a very easy and pleasant return to Crosby Ravensworth, with superb views across a landscape which has been farmed for thousands of years.



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