Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Low Lonning, Gosforth

A walk down Low Lonning, Gosforth

Hall Bolton Bridge at Low Lonning, near Gosforth
LOW Lonning, near Gosforth is just one of the many lonnings (country lanes) that can be found in West Cumbria. A lonning is a dialect term for a very specific type of path. In the ages before rail and road, people needed to know the difference between a narrow sloping path (a rake), a trod (a path used by miners), a wath (a sand crossing across an estuary), a drovers route, a corpse road, a lonning or many other types. Many Cumbrians instinctively know what a lonning is - one of the prettier paths. It may have originated as a path to a 'loan' by a farm (the quiet place where cows were milked and villagers could buy milk, cheese or other farm produce). Very few are identified as such on maps or finger-posts (I've come across probably just half a dozen) but villagers all know where they are and what they are called. The names are glorious: Wine Lonning, Love Lonning, Fat Lonning, Thin Lonning and Squeezed Gut Lonning are just a few. You'll find others on my lonning map.

Low Lonning at Gosforth was featured on Secret Britain in March 2016 and is indeed one of the nicer ones in this part of the world. Since Google Maps show it in the wrong place, this blog gives its correct location.

Name: Low Lonning, Gosforth (now usually shown as Low Lane on maps)
Grid reference: NY093040 - NY086028
Post code: CA20 1AS (the village centre)
Parking: Free car park in village centre - please put money in the honesty box!
Toilets: In the car park
Refreshments: Various pubs and cafes in Gosforth
Other attractions nearby: Guards Lonning, Bleng Lonning, Gosforth church with its famous Anglo Saxon cross; Gosforth holy well (near the church); Britain's favourite view at Wasdale; Eskdale and the La'al Ratty steam train.

Description: It is not easy to park at either end of this lonning so it's safer to park in the village and walk (it is probably about an hour and a quarter round route). Head out of the village on the Eskdale road (a country lane so remember to walk single file facing oncoming traffic). Cross over the large Rowend bridge. The first footpath on the left is the start of Low Lonning. This is an ancient path that was once the main route from Wasdale to the coast (not least for the smugglers!). The earliest map showing it is 1774 and later maps indicate its start and finish in slightly different places. The first part is a driveway to Hall Bolton and is sometimes shown as Toft Lane; once you are beyond that you are in the lonning proper. It crosses an impressive stone bridge over the River Bleng which reflects its golden age as a major trade route in West Cumbria. It's an ideal place to stop for some 'bait' (a dialect term for lunch!). From the bridge the lonning rises slightly through an avenue of trees.
The path up from the bridge
To your left is another footpath (the one wrongly identified on Google earth as Low Lonning). Ignore that and carry on. The path levels off and during a break in the hedges you will catch glimpses of the Wastwater screes - steep, plunging rock faces that dip into Wastwater.
The views to Wasdale and the Wastwater Screes
The lonning contines and rather disconcertingly, you will walk past a house and farm buildings. Don't worry! You're on a public path. Eventually the lonning dips down and you finish up at the main Wasdale Road.
The lonning towards the Wasdale Road end
Like most lonnings, this one is about half a mile long. Once on the Wasdale Road turn left and head back to Gosforth. The second path on your right will be Guards Lonning (one of the few lonnings actually signposted). This is one of our longest (probably about two miles) but is an 'industrial' lonning these days used for forest traffic. It is to be frank, one of the dullest lonnings apart from its astonishing views across to Wasdale. But don't let me stop you walking down it! You'll return to Gosforth via the hamlet of Wellington. The road is surprisingly wide because it was once going to be a road across the fells. Initial work included the widening of this road but the plans were eventually dropped.

I hope you enjoy Low Lonning and that it will encourage you to explore other lonnings. Apart from my Google map, you will find more lonnings detailed in our book, The Lonnings of Cumbria available from Amazon. And I'm always glad to hear about other lonnings that you know about. Email me on alanjcleaver@gmail.com.

A gate on which to rest a while!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Writing paper guidelines

ONE of those mild frustrations for those who still hand-write letters is buying a writing pad and then finding there is no guideline sheet included. It's hard enough trying to keep handwriting neat without also having to worry that you are writing in straight lines and leaving the correct leading (spacing) between lines. But when I bought some of Basildon Bond's delightful Three Candlesticks writing paper I assumed that they would, of course, have pdfs of the guidelines on their website for just such an emergency. The pad I bought from the sorry looking display at WHSmith was wrapped in plastic and it was only when I got home that I found the guidelines had been left out. A search of their website revealed no one in the organisation had yet had the bright idea of putting pdfs of guidelines up on the web for their customers so instead I had to spend a few minutes with QuarkXpress to create them. I dropped a line to Basildon Bond with my pdf suggestion. So far they've not taken it up. They did send me a complimentary pack (with guidelines) which was nice of them but the covering note explained that they were no longer including guidelines in their writing pads. I was gobsmacked. Why not? Did they think

  1. Everyone could now write in perfect straight lines
  2. They could save money by not including the guidelines
  3. No one handwrites letters any more so why bother
So for those equally frustrated handwriting lovers, I've attached the pdfs here. Enjoy.