After a freezing few days, last Sunday was much milder. We walked from Appleby – which had flooded again earlier in the week, though not as badly as after Storm Desmond – to follow footpaths up to Flakebridge Wood.
Up past the railway station, a gem of a place on the Settle to Carlisle line, that seems unchanged from the 1940s. The road beyond leads up to the continuation of the Roman road that once led from Brough across the Pennines via the Stainmore Gap. Now it is a modern lane and parts of it have vanished under the A66.
We walked under the noisy underpass and then out along the footpath along Stank Lane, which, despite the name, didn’t…
Interesting this name – Stank Lane… What does it mean? Stank is, of course, the past tense of stink. But Stank can also mean in dialect a small dam or a weir, and I wonder if that’s the derivation. Not that there is obviously one of those anywhere by it… or is there?
Stank Lane is a very pleasant green lane, offering terrific views up towards High Cup Nick and Murton Pike. To its west, close to Hungriggs Farm is a reedy stretch of water called Molesby Tarn. Is the origin of the Stank there?
Anyway, the paths on this walk are in excellent condition as it winds down and across to Stank Wood – all kept beautifully clear, well waymarked and the line good and clear where the path crosses an open field.
Stank Wood is a thin but longish stretch of woodland, which I would imagine was originally planned as a covert for game. Beyond the way follows the valley of the Frith Beck, around Black Hill and to Flakebridge Wood, one of the largest stretches of woodland in the Eden valley.
Flakebridge is mixed woodland and heavily preserved for pheasant shooting. There is no public access to much of the wood, apart from two footpaths that cross through and one longer right of way that winds along its southern edge.
With the Ramblers new campaign to restore public access to woodland and the resurrection of the Charter of the Forest, this is the sort of place which should be looked at for increased walking access.
We followed this to the lane junction near Shepherd’s Cottage and then followed Well House Road – in point of fact a very quiet lane – back to Appleby. Well House now stands just yards from the noisy A66, though the well – disused – may be seen on the opposite side of the lane.
Appleby is itself an interesting place in its great bend of the River Eden. The Romans who marched by seemingly ignored the site and the town was a creation of Viking settlers.
It doesn’t feature in the Domesday Book for the simple reason that this area was part of Scotland, not England, at the time. The Scots have returned several times since, attacking the town and laying siege to the castle. In the 17th century it was the home of Lady Anne Clifford, who gossipy diaries are well worth a read.
It was, of course, the County Town of Westmorland, before that county was absorbed into Cumbria. The locals hated the thought and formally changed the town’s name to Appleby-in-Westmorland. Every June it is the venue of the Gypsy Horse Fair, which brings thousands of travellers into the valley.
A short walk this one, just a few miles – but if you’ve a morning to spare I recommend it.