The bridleway deposited us in the valley bottom at Kentmere Hall, just west of the village of Kentmere. The oldest part of the Hall is a 13th or 14th Century (depending where you read) Pele Hower or Tower House – a smaller, but more complete example of the kind of fortification found closer to home at Arnside Tower, and at numerous other nearby locations – most areas in fact sufficiently close to the border, on either side, to have been effected by the cross-border reiving.

Clustered around the tower are a host of other buildings clearly of various ages and pedigrees. It must be quite something to live and work on a farm with a 700 year history.

From here our path followed the river back to where we had parked. Curiously, although we were close to the river, the lie of the land was such that we rarely saw even glimpses of it. The river flows into Kentmere itself – a very odd shaped tarn.

Apparently the original marshy mere was drained and then the area was dug for diatomite – a deposit consisting of the fossilized remains of an algae, rich in silicate and used for a number of industrial purposes. This happened in 1950 according to Wikipedia, or 1840 according to Aileen and Brian Evans in their wonderful guide ‘Short Walks in Lakeland Book 1: South Lakeland’. Since the Tory party’s latest mission seems to be to rewrite history on Wikipedia according to the whims and errors of David Cameron, I’m inclined to believe the latter. It’s that digging which gives the current mere its strange child’s doodle of an outline.

The photo doesn’t show it, but by now it was snowing quite hard. We weren’t bothered, we didn’t have far to go and were deep in conversation. X-Ray is a very well travelled chap, having live and worked abroad for a number of years. He regaled me with stories of travelling around Turkey and hitch-hiking home from soviet-era Budapest in the winter. Indonesia is one of the few places that we have both visited, but my knowledge pales by comparison: X-Ray has travelled extensively in South-East Asia.

Some how we got on to walking and our experiences of trekking in Nepal and New Zealand (him) and Peru (me), before, more parochially, discussing the Pennine Way. I walked it with my Dad, and various other hangers-on, back in 1985. It turns out that X-Ray has an ambition to tackle it himself. And the West Highland Way. And the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Starting from Lancaster. Clearly X-Ray is a man after my own heart – when he daydreams he really goes for it. After those revelations we were so busy building castles in the air that the end of the walk came as a double surprise both sooner than expected, and passing as it did through a factory yard, disconcertingly industrial in such a rural setting…


Later, when X-Ray joined us for tea and I regaled the assembled company with his vague plan to walk the camino, TBH raised an eyebrow: “Oh yes – and you reckon you’re going with him do you?”. She knows me too well.

Since this is part of my continued exploration of the River Kent I did manage to take one photo of the river, from the bridge which we crossed at the beginning and the end of the walk:

The river is very straight here – I wondered whether its course might have been altered at some time.


5 thoughts on “Kentmere

  1. fatdogwalks says:

    Entertaining as ever Mark. So…are you off to swing the big incense ball in Santiago? Did think of doing some of this route myself…by car! (LOL)

  2. The Camino – do it!

    Your post reminded me of the time I attempted the Kentmere Horseshoe. Somehow I missed the path up to Yoke and had an initial hard struggle up difficult slopes – so by the time I’d reached the superb cairn at Thornthwaite Crag I was feeling quite tired already. I was following the Nuttalls’ route – for my abilities some of their circulars are ambitious at the best of times – and they suggested taking in High Street and Rough Crag as well. This involved descending towards Mardale and losing a lot of the height I’d gained. The steep, sketchy path from Small Water up to the Nan Bield pass was punishing to say the least. At the pass I chickened out of further ups and downs along the eastern ridge of the horseshoe and took the easier path down into the Kent valley and – eventually – back to the car I’d left in Kentmere. Some day I’ll go back and do the other half…

    A remote and spectacular area of the Lakes – very atmospheric and relatively unfrequented.

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