A not-too scary walk past Gallows Hill!

Alan Cleaver details a walk that joins Hallsenna with the Eskdale Road, taking you past the legendary spot of the gallows – and offering you one of the most impressive views in West Cumbria.

The amazing view from Gallows Hill. The kests on the right suggest a great age to this path. That's Meolbank in the distance with the Western Fells acting as a dramatic backdrop.

The amazing view from Gallows Hill. The kests on the right suggest a great age to this path. That’s Meolbank in the distance with the Western Fells acting as a dramatic backdrop.

BETWEEN Great Lonning at Hallsenna and Low Lonning at Gosforth is a delightful if little-walked lane that contains a marvellous secret.

The lane – for at least part called Stubshead Lane – starts at the caravan park on the A595 and drops down to the Eskdale Road, passing en route Meolbank.

If you’re intending to walk this path, there’s not much in the way of safe parking nearby although a single space ‘lay-by’ exists at the start of Low Lane or Great Lonning (as the road to Hallsenna used to be known). Park considerately and take great care if you cross either the A595 or the Eskdale Road.

Assuming you are starting from Low Lonning end, you will head south-west along a wide track and you’ll see some ancient stone walls left along its route which are indicative of the age of this track.

The early 20th Century historian CA Parker has written about the possible antiquity of this lane and the Roman artefacts that have been found at various points along and around it.

To you right, will be Hare Beck which seems to encourage much wildlife to entertain you on your walk.

When you reach a house, the path splits and you should take the right-hand path which will eventually lead you to the house called Meolbank and the impressive pond that sits in front of it.

It’s always disconcerting walking through someone’s ‘garden’ but the path takes you round the side of the house and eventually you begin to climb up Gallows Hill.

This is Stubshead Lane proper. The sandy ground (Sandy Lonnins was once a name for the junction with the A595 and the Hallsenna Road) probably accounts for the dramatic erosion in the lane.

In the very north of the county by the Solway estuary is a feature known as kests and the hedgerows along Stubshead Lane are very much in the form of kests – raised hedge banks; again they are suggestive of great age to this path.

Turn around at this point and face north-east.

You will be treated to what must surely be one of the best views in West Cumbria: The kests and lane dropping down into the valley, a farmhouse in the middle-distance and a breath-taking backdrop of the Western fells.

It’s an iconic view – or it would be if photographers had discovered this neglected route.

Gallows Hill, just above this point, is where – according to legend – where the ne’r-do-wells of old were hanged.

I don’t suppose they welcomed their imminent demise but they did at least have the consolation of leaving this world gazing on one of the best views the county has to offer.

Ordnance Survey and their trig point mark Gallows Hill on the north side of the lane but Parker says Gallabanks (on the south side) was the legendary point of execution.

You’ll eventually pass a small holding with a delightful selection of livestock (including two donkeys!) and then reach the caravan park.

If you want to return by a different route, carry on to the A595 and walk south for about a third of a mile to join a parallel footpath taking you through Moorside Wood.

This path eventually rejoins your original path shortly before the Eskdale Road.

Further reading: The Gosforth District by Dr CA Parker available from Michael Moon’s bookshop in Lowther Street, Whitehaven.

This book was first published in 1904 but remains the definitive book on Gosforth’s history.

The route of this walk. © Crown copyright 2014 Ordnance Survey Media 089/14

The route of this walk. © Crown copyright 2014 Ordnance Survey Media 089/14

‘I don’t suppose they welcomed their imminent demise but they did at least have the consolation of leaving this world gazing on one of the best views the county has to offer.’