What do you do on a damp September Monday morning, when you’ve had your latest novel rejected and are feeling a bit down in the dumps? In our case we stuck two fingers up at work and headed into Kendal to do a bit more poking about. And had a surprisingly fun time again.
This time, we took a leaflet we’d picked up at Oxenholme station, published by Visit Kendal and called Kendal Walking Trails. Although only small, it contains maps and fascinating facts and figures about three separate walks set in and around the town centre: one taking in culture, one history, and the third various bits of woodland. We didn’t really have time to tackle all three, or even the whole of any one of them, but set off along one of the routes anyway to see what we could find.
Starting off up the ferociously-named Beast Banks (a former livestock slaughtering area which even Alfred Wainwright describes as “steep”), we tracked down the footpath leading to Castle Howe, the site of Kendal’s first castle. The current ruin on the eastern side of the River Kent is well-known and plain for any visitor to the town to see. But how many people realise there was an earlier castle on the slopes to the west of the river? Probably not many, because it’s tucked away at the back of a load of houses, with barely a sign that it’s there.
Possibly this is because it’s not in the best of repair. There’s a small and attractive park at the foot of the mound, but the mound itself is muddy and overgrown. We slithered and clambered around the steep steps and rough paths to the top, and found nothing more than a strange obelisk celebrating the “Glorious Revolution”, a handful of sweetie wrappers and a stunning view. It would have been nice to have a plaque, perhaps, giving some dates and a sense of the history of the place. As it was, I’ve taken to Google but can’t find much information, other than that it appears to pre-date the second castle which was begun in 1206.
We slithered back down again and poked about Beast Banks some more, finding a fascinating sign celebrating the life of local architect George Webster, responsible for many of the town’s finest buildings, and a small statue of him perched on a rooftop clutching a scroll of architectural plans. We also trotted along Garth Heads, a recently restored medieval lane cutting across between Beast Banks and Gillingate, with some intriguing-looking stairways and even narrower lanes to explore another day. Then it was off to Brew Brothers café for a well-earned lunch.
This time, annoyingly, I forgot my camera so there’s no photos to share. I’ll try to remember it next time and we can always retrace our steps.