Lacy’s Caves and Long Meg

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A Saturday afternoon and we decided to dragoon the boys into coming out for a walk with us. In honesty, I can’t remember how we arrived at the decision to repeat a walk along the River Eden, taking in Little Salkeld Watermill, Lacy’s Caves and the Long Meg and her Daughters stone circle, but it was a good choice.

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We began with lunch in the cafe at the mill, which was delicious, then set off towards the river. There was a paper notice tacked to the signpost indicating that some part of the footpath had been damaged by flooding and then closed, but the notice looked quite old, so we decided to ignore it.

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TBH and I have done this walk three times now, and each time we’ve seen lots of Buzzards in this first part of the walk. Closer to hand, there were flowers and insects to admire and a tree heavily laden with rather tart apples.

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Small White Butterfly on some sort of Hawk’s-beard, possibly Rough Hawk’s-beard.

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Tachina Fera.

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Forest Bug.

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More fungi.

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Earthballs.

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A weir on the Eden. Force Mill opposite.

We did eventually see some signs of flood damage, but that had nothing to do with what happened next. I’m not sure how, but I lost my footing and fell down the steep bank towards the river. Little S was first to react, grabbing hold of my ankle as I slid down the slope, which, frankly, could have ended badly for him,  but between us we managed to halt my fall. I was a bit bruised and grazed, my camera took a whack, and I think we were all  slightly shaken, but ultimately, no harm was done.

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The view of the River Eden from Lacy’s Caves.

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Lacy’s Caves.

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These are not natural caves, but were hewn from the rock by order of the local landowner Colonel Samuel Lacy. There are several connected ‘rooms’. One of them still has some planks in it and some metal brackets fastened to the wall, as if there had been a bench or a bed here. Apparently, Lacy may have paid someone to live in the caves as a ‘hermit’, which was a fashionable thing to do for a time. There are more pictures of the caves here, from our last family visit, made at a time when Little S genuinely was still little.

The boys may be practically grown up now, but they weren’t above a game of hide and seek in the caves, which, I’ll admit, was pretty hilarious.

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I remember these wooden posts from last time too. This is one from a series erected around the Eden Valley area and designed by artist Pip Hall. They’re textured so that rubbings can be taken.

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Mixed flock of Jackdaws and Rooks.

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More fungi.

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One of Long Meg’s daughters.

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More daughters with Cross Fell in the cloud and the radar station on Great Dun Fell behind.

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The uncountable daughters.

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The Long Meg stone circle is amazing and, on the evidence of three visits, almost guaranteed to be virtually deserted.

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Long Meg.

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And again.

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There’s some more detail and folklore regarding the stone circle in my previous post about a visit, here.

We first learned about this route from a leaflet published by Discover Eden. It was available as a PDF online, but these days you have to buy it. One word of warning – the leaflet gives a longer version of this walk, including a visit to Addingham Church, as 4½ miles, but my phone app gave 6 miles for our truncated version. No wonder our original round took us 6 hours when we had a toddler with us.

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Lacy’s Caves and Long Meg

Long Meg Walk V – Lacy’s Caves

Our path had been running almost parallel to the Settle-Carlisle railway line and also to the river Eden. When it finally brought us to the banks of the river we were close to the viaduct where the railway line crosses the river. The step bank is wooded however and we couldn’t get a clear view of the viaduct. The Eden is a substantial river by local standards and when we came level with a weir on the river it was possible to scramble down the bank to get at least a partial view.

Part of weir on River Eden

Shortly beyond that point the bank became less steep and we had our first view of Lacy’s Caves.

Lacy's Caves - a first view Lacy's Caves

These curiosities were hollowed out in the 18th Century for the local landowner Colonel Samuel Lacy and it’s rumoured that he even paid someone to live here as a ‘hermit’. There is a series of connected rooms, some of which, alarmingly with S hurtling about in high excitement, have openings looking out over drops into the river. Fortunately, for once he didn’t fall in.

The first of the caves Looking out of Lacy's Caves

From the caves it seemed like quite a long way, first along the river a little further…

Walking by the Eden

…and then back up the hill to the car. It can’t have been however, since the whole walk is a mere four and a half miles. Four and a half miles which punches well above it’s weight.

Long Meg Walk V – Lacy’s Caves