Fox's Pulpit

Fox’s Pulpit and the River Lune

Walk Summary

A fine walk in the far western Yorkshire Dales National Park visiting Fox’s Pulpit and concluding with a lovely stretch of rambling alongside the River Lune.

Distance: 8.5 miles
Total ascent: 1575ft
Walk Rating: *****
Parking: Roadside, Beck Foot
Route: Download Route [GPX]

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Walk Report

At the start of every year for the last 10-12 years I’ve made a ‘to-do’ list of walks for that particular year. For the last five years this list has included a visit to Fox’s Pulpit but for no particular reason I have just never got round to doing it. This then was a well overdue visit to the ‘other’ side of Lunesdale which was only recently incorporated into the Yorkshire Dales National Park, following its extension in August 2016.

The walk started from the staggered crossroads on the B6257 just below Lowgill Viaduct in an area called Beck Foot. On the viaduct side of the road there is enough space to fit 3-4 cars in a small layby.

“Accessed by a handy gate Fox’s Pulpit is the name give to a large outcrop of rock where legend says that George Fox once preached to over a 1,000 people on Sunday June 13, 1652.”

From the layby I turned briefly up the road opposite before leaving it on a drive, passing round the front of a house to join a sunken way climbing up above a beck. This sunken way lead up to grassy sheep pastures and to the driveway of High House farm. Turning left on the drive I then turned right to take a path between the farm and an abandoned house to reach an enclosed track. This led to another couple of field crossings and finally on to the narrow country road that crosses Firbank Fell.

For non-peak baggers to visit Fox’s Pulpit it is simply a case of turning left and following the road for just under a mile. However, I’d noted that both Firbank Fell and nearby Knotts, which is immediately above Fox’s Pulpit, both have enough prominence to appear on the Database of British Hills. Seeing that both ‘summits’ could easily be reached from the road I first made my way to the top of Firbank Fell.

This was reached by taking a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ stile on to an unsigned right of way which barely exists on the ground. No matter, as this is also access land so from the stile I made a beeline for the highest point, an area of grass and clumps of reeds beyond a ruined wall. A few wooden posts laid in the grass seemed to mark the highest point. It was worth the detour for the view, a fine 360 degree panorama, that included a great view of the Howgill Fells to the east and the snow clad Coniston Fells and Scafells in the Lake District to the west.

Instead of returning directly to the road and stile I had a little bimble around Firbank Fell to see if I could find anything of interest. What I found were the traces of lots of looping tracks, a forest of seemingly random fence posts and the shell of what was still faintly labelled as a ‘Mobile Control Unit’. This latter object was situated at the end of a gravel track which I followed, somewhat bemused, all the way back to the road. Here at the gate was a sign saying ‘Westmorland Motor Club Ltd. 1994’. This may or may not provide a clue to the rather odd goings on on Firbank Fell.

Turning right back on to the road it was just a five minute walk to Fox’s Pulpit. Accessed by a handy gate Fox’s Pulpit is the name give to a large outcrop of rock where legend says that George Fox once preached to over a 1,000 people on Sunday June 13, 1652. This event is seen as the key moment in the founding of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, as they are also known. A plaque fixed to the outcrop provides further information while just over the wall to the north there are the remains of a graveyard where a church once stood. All in all it is quite an evocative place.

From Fox’s Pulpit I visited the top of Knotts, an easy five minute walk on grass passing outcrops of Silurian rock along the way. The view of the Howgills from the top of Knotts was simply superb and was well worth the detour.

Returning back to Fox’s Pulpit and the road I turned left along the latter to head south as far as the houses at New Field. A path on the left led me down through a couple of pastures to then drop down through a pleasant section of Hawkrigg Wood. Emerging at the foot of the wood there was a great view of Winder, the southernmost of the Howgill Fells.

Crossing over the Firbank road I crossed a small brow to reach the Sedbergh to Kendal road just west of Lincoln’s Inn Bridge. Carefully crossing the narrow bridge I then joined the Dales Way to start the return leg of the walk. Initially following the river, the path crossed Crosdale Beck before passing underneath the Lune Viaduct. Largely made of red sandstone the Lune Viaduct has a striking central span made of iron.

Beyond the viaduct the path moved away from the river for a while, not returning until it had passed Hole House. This final stretch of the walk, from Hole House to Crook of Lune Bridge, was perhaps the finest section of the walk, a really beautiful riverside ramble. Crook of Lune Bridge itself was a fine structure commanding a great view upstream backed by Fell Head. From the bridge it was then a simple walk up the minor road, passing underneath Lowgill Viaduct to reach Beck Foot.

This was a fantastic walk, if I’d known it was this good I wouldn’t have waited so long to do it! It also happened to me the warmest day of the year so far. With temperatures reaching about 20 degrees celsius it was nice to strip down to my t-shirt for the first time this year.

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