A church, a tarn and a stone circle; or our real-life escape to the country, Part 1.

We left the hotel bright and early, ready for walking, yet not sure where we were going. But one thing was perfectly clear: the sky! No rain! Fluffy clouds! And blue skies for miles.

After a bit of a jawdropping trip to the car park…


… we headed out, winding our way through the green trees toward the blue skies…

… and hit the local, cheerful town of Keswick.

We found it a lovely little village, all dressed up for the Queen’s Jubilee, with a traditional market square and a lot of outdoor outfitters. Need a fleece? A walking stick? There must have been four or five shops ready to kit you up for a long walk on the fells.

We were looking for something a wee bit shorter. So we outfitted ourselves with a small daypack from one of the outfitters and DH visited the local visitor’s centre whilst I glamorously relaxed on a bench in the square, calling British Gas to get our final bill sorted out. Anyone who has dealt with BG knows that this means a lot of time sitting on hold. Thank the maker for saynoto0870.co.uk! All that money saved from a toll number meant we could buy ourselves a fancy guidebook. Cue DH emerging with 40 Short Walks in The Lake District published by AA.

We chose Walk #30: Low Rigg and Castlerigg. The description in the book is as follows:

At the heart of the northern Lakes, this simple walk begins at a lovely church and rounds to the inspiring stone circle at Castlerigg.


We were heading to an area called St John’s-in-the-Vale, an isolated glacial valley with a few farms and a church, aptly named St John’s in the Vale Church. In order to get there, we needed to brave yet another narrow single track with high stone walls, an white knuckle (for the side seat driver that I am) adventure in itself.

We parked up just off a turning circle at the end of the road: **street view sometimes doesn’t work, but when it does it is so much fun to play with. Go on!**

And immediately I had to document just about everything around me. A fence:

A farm:

And a footpath (oh my!):

Don’t get too excited. We were heading the opposite direction, up a steep hill with a gravel covered drive, just large enough for a postal van whose driver waved at us as he zoomed expertly through the narrow lanes. Brave man.

At the top of the hill, the church revealed itself to us in the distance. As did another rambler, who appeared and disappeared before we could say hello.

Perhaps she was a ghost? Walking the fells and forests for all eternity…

Best inspect the church and its graveyard, just in case.

No rambler here. Instead we found this local WWI memorial. What stood out to me is that a small rural area like this should even have a memorial, and that one family was doubly affected as two brothers found their fate in the great war: Oliver and Edwin Robinson. Their family, like may others all over the country, must have been loathe to see them go and never return.

Someone still comes by to pay their respects. Very sweet.

For me, any day that I get to explore an old church is a banner day indeed. I may not do religion, but I do adore churches, cathedrals and chapels. The architecture, the peaceful nature of the interiours, the windows, the artistry. It’s rare that you come across a church that hasn’t taken actual care to create the building. And this one was no different, if a little difficult to photograph in the morning sun.

Behind the local stone exterior we found a modest and welcoming church. Wood paneling and carved pews helped give the room visual warmth against the winds outdoors.

And putting out some flowers definitely helps.

Peering outside the church’s leaded windows I saw my partner in crime loitering by the gate and took the hint to make my way back to the task at hand: walking some fells.

But first, another little weakness of mine: Boot Scraper! I find myself taken by these old things. So I photograph them a lot.

This little guy must get loads of use still today.

It was time to stop stalling and start stiling. I know that isn’t actually a word, you don’t need to remind me. With all the excitement of the walk, I was about to encounter my first official stile, not to mention a tarn!

Part 2 here we come!

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