Hubby had an appointment in Kendal, so me and The Dog decided to join him for the chance of a different walk and a change of scenery.
We headed out in glorious spring sunshine, albeit still very cold. Spring has sort of stalled here in the UK – it was getting warmer, but recently we’ve had quite a few days of hard frosts (and even snow) as high pressure dominates and the days remain cool. Nature has pressed the pause button for the time being, though she allows us to bask in brilliant sunshine which is a bonus.
Hubby found his destination in Kendal easily and parked up. We found ourselves in suburbia to the north of the town and a quick glance at the OS map on the phone, showed no immediate greenery. The Dog ain’t one for pounding the streets, so we expanded the map. On further investigation, I realised that Kendal Castle was in walking distance and with a hour to kill, we set off.
We walked down a busy A road, heading towards the town centre, a mixture of shop fronts and housing. We passed a little row of cottages, their front doors straight out onto the pavement and their curtains/blinds tightly closed to stop people like me having a good gawp into their living rooms, before turning down a peaceful side road. We followed the map, the small cottages turning into slightly bigger residences and as we approached the Castle, elegant Victorian villas with little well tended front gardens.
We found the entrance to the grounds of the Castle and squeezed through the kissing gate. The path went straight up a hill. After a brief read of the information board, we set off up the path as joggers ran down the hill and then promptly turned around and jogged back up. I just don’t have the right mental attitude to climb into lycra and run in any shape or form, unless it’s after a bus or some form of reward. The childhood memories of staggering around the school running track, while the PE teacher smirked and watched you suffering are seared deep into my brain still. Why inflict pain on yourself like that? A brisk walk suits me fine, thank you, so I let the joggers pant up the hill, while The Dog and I took in the scenery.
We were steadily rising above the town of Kendal, the houses, roads and industry surrounding the vast eminence we were climbing, with the Lakeland fells as a stunning backdrop. It was a huge parkland with groups of trees and the odd bench to rest on. I kept stopping to admire the ever expanding views, doing slow 360 degree turns. Finally, the Castle appeared at the top – a complete ruin with only a couple of corners left. I visit Kendal probably two or three times a year, usually on a shopping trip and had never visited the castle. There were several information boards to read and seats cut out of stone in front of the castle; people sat on other benches admiring the views over into the Lakeland hills while others stood and took photos. It was rather splendid.
We decided to investigate further, crossing the empty moat of the Castle and into the middle. To our right, was the remains of a tower with a stairway, so we sauntered over to check it out. The stairway was constructed of metal with the actual steps made of grating. The Dog followed me, though not particularly impressed. She wasn’t entirely comfortable with these steps design, going up very gingerly, with her back legs looking like she’d had weed herself. The grating must of been horrible for her paws and she could see through the stairs. She then wasn’t too happy with me with my too brief and cursory look once we had reached the top – it was a cylindrical stone construction with a window overlooking Kendal town centre and that was that – and so we immediately turned around and went back down the steps. Halfway down I waited for The Dog, who was even more unhappy, carefully stepping down each step. I thought at one point to scoop her up (at the risk of losing fingers) to carry her down, but she saw the end was in sight and with a wag of her tail, she skipped down to the grass and bounced away with relief.
We walked around the perimeter inside the castle and read the information boards. There were two cellars that we checked out, spooking a couple of birds who in turn spooked us. There were another set of steps that took you up to the other ruined tower, for another scenic view. This time they were a proper set of stairs, albeit made of metal, but none of the grating underfoot. The Dog, just about recovered from the last set of steps, declined to join me and decided to stay put at the bottom to watch me waddle up to take photos and have a look around. Reunited at the bottom, we headed off back into parkland and found a high spot to have a good look at the town surrounding the hill. You could see why it was built up here, you would of seen the marauding mobs heading your way at all angles – it had a 360 degree vista. The Dog and I just stopped and stared – the sun was shining in a practically cloudless sky, admiring at the Lakeland fells in the not too far distance, looking very inviting. Nestling in the valley, the town of Kendal – I was looking out for familiar landmarks, working out where the town centre was, the roads and other features. Kendal looked a lot smaller from up here – almost snug and cosy. We found a gravel path and walked along the edge of the moat until the path plunged down into a thin slice of woodland towards a residential side road. We continued onto the grass as the hill gradually fell away towards a cemetery at the bottom. Checking both watch and map, we decided we’d better retrace our steps back to hubby. We headed back to the Castle and down the wide grassy track, towards the kissing gate. The sun was strong and warm, but there was a still chill in the air – a winter coat and scarf was still required with the breeze, though there were braver souls in lesser clothing. It was just simply a gorgeous day to go out and have a walk.
We reached the kissing gate, I put The Dog back on the lead and wandered back down the sunnier side of the streets, admiring the houses. This time, I start to notice that quite a few properties had flood gates on their doorways and even on their windows! The River Kent flows through the centre of town which isn’t very far from these houses – it was startling to think it could rise above their downstairs windowsills. I’m not sure I would be happy living there with that threat hanging over me. I also was amazed how far reaching the flood waters were – this would be a vast area of Kendal flooded if it did happen. And with that thought in our heads, we re-joined the busy and bustling A road and went off to find hubby.