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" Long Meg and Lacy's Caves "

Date & start time:      Thursday 14th July 2016, a drive, lunch and an afternoon walk.

Location of Start :      Little Salkeld Water Mill, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 567 360 )

Places visited :          The Mill, Lacey Caves, Kirkoswald, Lazonby and back to Long Meg.

Cave Walk details :    2 mls, 100 feet of ascent, 1 hour 40 mins.

Highest point :           This was a gentle walk and drive around the Eden Valley.

Walked with :              Ann and our dogs, Harry and Dylan.

Weather :                     Lovely summer sunshine

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number PU 100034184.


Intrigued by my recent visit with the Loweswater Farmers to the Eden Valley east of Penrith,

we return to Little Salkeld to show Ann the water mill and the Long Meg stone circle.

Local information suggests a visit to Lacy's Caves would be interesting too.

No-one mentioned we'd meet a panda bear though !

Little Salkeld Watermill . . . it was about lunchtime after driving 50 minutes across from Loweswater.

The car park at the back overlooks the waterwheels . . .
. . . the mill is housed in the three storey part of the building.

Ann pops her head in through the doorway to see the mill but we haven't arranged a tour this time.

In the buildings closest to the road is the cafe and shop.

They serve really nice organic lunches . . . and tea in huge cups.

. . . which we enjoyed outside on the picnic table, essential on a warm day when you have dogs to consider.

- - - o o o - - -

We would return to see the Long Meg Stone Circle but in the meantime we decided

to visit Lacey Caves on the banks of the River Eden.

On the way the map says that we pass Little Meg stone circle.  

A local guide book says it was moved in last century and now lies in a bit of a jumble at the edge of a  field . . . could this be it ?

We find out the answer later.

The footpath options to get to Lacy's Caves were a bit unproven so we took advice

and parked north of the caves and walked south (up-river) in the hope of finding them.

There were notices about the path being closed

but fellow walkers we met encouraged us on by saying :

" They are only health and safety notices."

" It is a bit muddy but if you've got good foot wear you'll be fine."


The short but bold squiggle on the header map shows our mile out / mile back linear route to the caves.

We climb the overgrown bank alongside the footpath notice . . .

. . . and enter into another world.

This is the valley of the placid River Eden, quietly draining the Eden Valley and all the west facing slopes of the Pennines.

It is the major river that flows north into the Solway Firth via Carlisle.

Walking across the field we saw the first signs of the winter storm damage when the river rose so much that it flooded parts of Carlisle. 

Here it had eroded the bank and caused a landslide.   A large tree, one of many, has ended up in the river.

The footpath used to go over a stile to the right of the post.  It is now in a heap twelve foot below.

Rather than re-build the stile to the left of the post the footpath authority has just closed the path

We made the awkward crossing by hanging onto the post . . . the dogs managed by us hanging onto them !

A short section of planking has seen better days too !
This local stream has scoured out the soil by the fence.

To give you an idea of the extent of the Storm Desmond floods,

we are probably twenty feet above the river here and that is river debris which has floated up and caught on the fence.

The boardwalk becomes more formal as it navigates its way through the woodland.

Take care . . . some of the planks are rotten . . .
. . . and some of the path has been washed away.
Still all is well this fine day and as we walk the track . . .
. . . the summer flowers are flowing nicely (complete with bee).

After about a mile the path rises up and around a red sandstone bluff.

It is a lovely weather-eroded surface with some old graffiti scraped into the rock by visitors over the years.

We drop down on the other side of the outcrop, down to the river level

and the beauty of the area becomes very apparent.

Look up at the rock outcrop . . . do you notice a black entrance in the trees ?


Just inside the wood land and close to the path,

is the notice that tells us we have arrived at

" Lacy's Caves "


Five chambers have been cut out of the sandstone cliffs

by Colonel Lacy of Salkeld Hall

who commissioned their carving in the 18th century.

The dramatic main entrance to the caves.

Inside the first of the larger caverns.

The exact reason for their creation is unknown,

however they were known to be used

by Lacy for entertaining his guests.


- - - o o o - - -


The area outside was originally planted as ornamental gardens

and the rhododendrons and laburnums

apparently still flower every spring.


- - - o o o - - -


There are many entrances and exits

but beware the rock shelf outside

is unprotected and it's a big drop to the river.

Dylan takes a high level look at the river scene below.

A delightful second (or is it third) doorway.
Weathering and ancient graffiti.
I walk into another chamber . . .
. . . going quite deep into the rock.
Inside this time with flash photography . . .
. . . .  several doorways and this interesting niche in the wall.

The red colour of the rock is emphasised by the flash of course.

The rock is less eroded this deep into the cave and so we get a better idea of the quality of workmanship when the caves were first dug out.

Out of a window and back in via a doorway
. . . Ann is seated inside
. . .  and she's been taking photos too.
In the cavern she is surrounded by more carvings.
The green is verdigris due to shafts of daylight.

Time to be heading back now . . . which way did we come in ?

Take the left hand door . . . as the summer vegetation is restricting the outside pathway from the second.

- - - o o o - - -


Harry walking back down

through the deep pathway

which had been cut through the rock.



We hardly noticed it in our excitement

when we first arrived.



- - - o o o - - -

Back down at the river again . . .
. . . Ann lingers long enough for me to catch one last photo.

Slowly back . . . retracing our steps along the occasionally slippery boardwalk.

Back across the fields to the car on the main road.

- - - o o o - - -

Looking back, the track is accessible but there will be a lot of work needed to bring it back up to a modern standard.

The path doesn't need to be closed, especially if they fix the one stile, but if you are going to try it . . . take care.

- - - o o o - - -

Afterwards we go for a drive to show Ann the sights and the local villages that I glimpsed briefly at on my visit in May.

This is the bell tower for St Oswad's Church, the main buildings are tucked down on the other side of the rise.

On one of the corners in Kirkoswald is a garden full of scarecrows.

The road through the centre of Kirkoswald with its three pubs on the square.

The sandstone bridge over the river Eden at Lazonby.

St Cuthbert's Church in Great Salkeld village.

Just beyond the village is the grand entrance to Nunwick Hall.

This is home to the Thompson family, our daughter's friends, but sadly they were not in when we called today.

- - - o o o - - -

We re-trace our steps in order to visit the final attraction of our day.

Back past the red phone box in the centre of Lazonby village.

- - - o o o - - -

Back near Little Salkeld is the stone circle known as " Long Meg and her daughters "

This is a large circle of 69 stones spread across a large part of the field.

It has a diameter of about 350 feet . . . bigger than Stonehenge.

Many of the stones have collapsed which makes counting them more difficult.

Ann  and Harry enjoy a walk round the circle.

Click here or on the photo above for a larger Loweswatercam annotated panorama.

Long Meg is a 12 foot monolith set outside the main circle.

- - - o o o - - -


Long Meg is made of local red sandstone,


whereas the daughters that make up the stone circle


are boulders of grey granite.


- - - o o o - - -


The large stone here has


three mysterious symbols engraved on its surface.


- - - o o o - - -

Today there's a panda visiting the stones . . . Hercules Panda

He has a friend with him and I went across to talk to Fiona who was enjoying an afternoon at the stones.

Feeling quite full after eating a bowl of raspberries Hercules offers his beer to his friend.

" It was a very nice one given to me by a friend with whom I was staying some of the other days of my trip,

after she had been on a trip to Brass Castle brewery in North Yorks"

So now we know . . . nice to meet you Hercules.

We'll leave them to enjoy the peace and quiet of the stone circle and make our way home.

Oh . . . and by the way . . . they weren't the Little Meg stones that we saw earlier.

They were in a different field.

- - - o o o - - -

Over the last few days we've had lovely weather, just like the Long Meg day.

Others have been more overcast and rain swept . . . but many have enjoyed a final sunset before the evening closed.

Like this sunset on Whiteside.

The sun casting a bright light on Grasmoor.

The light was shining through between the horizon and some high cloud forming a restricted band of colour on the fell.

Finally a look over our shoulder as the sun sets behind Low Fell at the end of another day.

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220, or my Canon 1100D Digital SLR.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . ordnance survey maps to plan and follow our walks.

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Previous walk - 11th July 2016 - Grange to Watendlath

A previous time up here - 24th May 2016 - Loweswater Farmers 2016

Next walk - 23rd July 2016 - Latrigg with Ian and Steve