Notchy joined Sue and me for this gentle afternoon stroll. We rolled up in unison at 1 pm, parking on the shore at SD 457 749 for lunch with this fine view. At the edge of the parking area lurks Bard’s Well, also known as the Battling Stone Well as clothes were washed and beaten clean against the stones here. Sadly our lack of attention foiled our bid to examine this well, which may not have been flowing.
Our attention turned to a venue where something definitely was flowing…. But a ginnel to the right just before the Hotel led us behind some houses and across Lindeth road for the familiar sighting of turkeys on the back lane to Wood Well. The way these big beasties were waddling along, they will provide meals for huge families. They looked very happy though, for the time being...
At Wood Well water oozes from the bottom of a cliff and forms a stream for all of 10 metres:
It is immediately collected into a large basin, originally used as a watering place for cattle. This well, like most in Silverdale, is really a spring, arising where a perched water table over a layer of impenetrable clay seeps out at outcrops of the impermeable layer.
From Wood Well a right turn leads up to a lane. Wolf House Gallery is 2 minutes away to the right, across the road from Gibraltar Farm. The gallery is much changed from the cosy nook with an intimate coffee shop, delicious home made cakes, and the lovely works of a variety of Lakeland artisans that we discovered on early visits to this spot. It’s now smaller but more commercialised, with fewer traditional paintings, but it does have a splendid tea room with excellent food.
Back up the road, we rejoined the woodland path and headed along the top of the cliff for 200 or so metres, from where we looked down upon Wood Well (we could have simply scrambled up the cliff from there, but the gallery is always worth a visit) before heading on across leaf strewn fields. Informative signposts directed us to Silverdale Green, where a footpath beside a wall led us out past leaf-less trees onto Stankelt Road. A right turn here, then the second left, took us to a path signed to Burton Well. We would recommend that others following this route should follow that sign. We ignored it, and found ourselves being drawn inexorably towards Silverdale Church. Extricating ourselves from this faux pas, we wound our way past Bottoms Farm Kiln to Burton Well. There's a fascinating information board at the kiln, with a time line tracing the history of lime kilns from 2450BC to contemporary times, though only a fantasist would date this kiln anything like that far back. Burton Well probably arises in the same way as Wood Well, and supplied water to the residents of Silverdale Green for many years. Following the introduction of gutters and downpipes, water was collected from the air (there's no shortage of airborne water here) and stored in tanks. Many houses were later built with tanks in their cellars, from which water was pumped into the kitchens by hand. By then the wells were generally used only for watering livestock.
From Burton Well a narrow footpath leads over a stile into Lambert's Meadow and across the wooden bridge. The meadow is National Trust property and forms a peaty hollow supporting tall grasses and rushes, with the herbs of unimproved grassland on its southern fringes (lady's mantle, knapweed, purple loosestrife, etc) though it was a fairly bare outlook that greeted us today.
A climb from the far side of the meadow led to a left turn onto a road, to the left of which Bank's Well has formed a small pond. Opposite the pond, to the right, a track runs behind the houses and past the site of our 'Bouncing Campervan Experience' that so traumatised Jenny one dark evening a couple of years ago (she no longer subscribes to our evening ['pitch black'] walks as a result), to Dogslack Well, nicely fitted out - but no water emerged from the pump despite Sue's efforts. This is Silverdale's only true well. It supplied water to nearby cottages until 1938, when the aqueduct from Haweswater to Manchester was constructed, from which water was piped to supply the village.
Retracing our steps to the lane, we turned right, past the Row and across the 'main' road to the car park leading to Eaves Wood. This is the site of Mark's (Beating the Bounds) crooked tree. Our route didn't take us far enough around the wood to see that, but we did find this excellent specimen of beech.
Scary, actually - it appeared to be watching us!
Moving quickly on, and keeping to the lower path, avoiding right and left turns, we soon passed concrete water tanks used to store water piped from perched springs further up the hill. A high 'Spite Wall' obscured the view into gardens - now perhaps not at their best - to the left.
A bench at Elmslack provided the ideal spot to consume the last of our provisions and a flask of tea, whilst scrutinising the litter bin that sits on the site of Elmslack Well.
Beyond here were good views of Silverdale in the fading light. A delightful village scene with a bowling contest no doubt reaching its conclusion. Continuing down the footpath signed to Cove Road, we turned briefly away from the village before taking a left to reach the beach, and our seventh and final well, Cove Well, of which there was no discernable trace...but the scene from the beach was pleasant in the low light.A short stroll along the beach saw us back at the cars as the sun went down.We then made the mistake of setting off on our short journey to Ings, enjoying en route the most magnificent sunset referred to by Mark here. Once the sun had actually set, the sky turned crimson - the images above failed completely to capture the full glory of the wonderful after-sun glow.
The following morning a lecture from Colin Prior slammed home the point!
Credit for some of the information in this posting goes to a leaflet produced by the Countryside Management Service of the Arnside/Silverdale AONB.
I appreciate this location is home to Beating the Bounds - I do hope Mark doesn't object to this minor intrusion into his 'patch', which Sue and I regard as one of the hidden gems of the UK.
Here's a rough interpretation of the route - a flattish 6.5 km which should take a dawdly 2 hours.