Posted: Thursday 18th July 2013 by Steve_and_Beth_Pipe
Just outside Egremont, a mile or so along a wooded lane hides a wonderful secret garden.
Not a garden in the formal sense, perhaps secret pasture, or secret field might be a more appropriate way of describing it. Whichever description you prefer there’s no denying that it’s hidden away.
There are a couple of laybys near to the entrance with enough parking for several cars; when we were there it was evident that the place was popular with local dog walkers and I can completely understand why. Beyond the wooden gate the path drops down to a narrow gorge where rail tracks once ran out of the site and away under a nearby bridge, the first clues to the industrial history of this now tranquil site. From the 1600s right through until 1930 limestone was quarried on the site and for the past 75 years nature has been left to her own devices. Whether you’re a geologist, birdwatcher, nature lover or industrial historian there’s something here for you.
The path climbs slightly through dense woodland before suddenly emerging into the bright daylight of the broad open quarry. The steep rock faces around the edges of the quarry are now largely covered by vegetation and coupled with the thick woods behind you they give a real feeling of being cut off from the outside world.
The path around the quarry is clear and easy to follow, a little rocky and muddy in places but nothing too drastic. Towards the start of the walk the ground is a deep red colour which serves to accentuate the lush green mix of grasses and wild flowers. We quickly spotted a couple of different varieties of orchid and when we visited the place was awash with the ever cheerful Oxeye Daisies.
The walls of the quarry also act as a natural amphitheatre, bouncing around the sound of the many birds in the area. We’re getting better at identifying birdsong and quickly picked out a couple of warblers and a blackbird in the nearby bushes. We also heard a cricket chirruping in the long grass and he kindly stayed still long enough for us to get a picture.
Dotted all around the quarry are information boards detailing the local wildlife and industrial history of the site, plus a few very well placed benches giving you the chance to pause and admire the site in greater detail. While we were pausing on one of the benches enjoying a flask of tea we spotted a Kestrel perched on a nearby rock face but sadly as soon as we reached for our cameras he disappeared.
As you continue along the path it’s not long before you’re back in the darkness of the woods. The track down to the road is steep but stepped and you'll soon be back at the car in the thick leafy lane with the secret quarry, once again, hidden from view with few clues to remind you it was ever there.
You can read more blogs about Life & Hiking in Cumbria by Steve & Beth on their Cumbrian Rambler web page.
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