Tucked away beside the River Eden in Cumbria is this week’s curiosity. Lacy’s Caves, named after the man who had them built, are five carved sandstone chambers.
Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Lacy of nearby Salkeld Hall in Little Salkeld, had the caves carved out of the cliff in the 18th century, although no one knows for sure why.
The caves were said to have been used at some point for entertaining guests and the surrounding area was originally used as an ornamental garden. It was very fashionable for the rich to have a grotto or folly in a time when the Grand Tour made visiting old ruins popular.
Incidentally, Samuel Lacy once tried to blow up the nearby druid stone circle known as Long Meg, the stones can be accessed on a circular walk which also takes in the caves.
The footpath which takes you to the caves does suffer from erosion, so if you are planning to visit the caves you should take care when walking along the route. In order to take a good around Lacy’s Caves we would recommend bringing a torch as some of the chambers are quite dark.
Contrary Life took a circular path to visit the caves and stone circle, beginning with a bit of coffee and cake at Little Salkeld Mill. Heading right out of the mill we headed up the road taking the first left. If you follow this road it will take you towards a footpath following a farm track. Follow the footpath signs marked Daleraven Bridge which lead down past an electricity substation to the riverside walk.
The path takes you past the disused Long Meg Mine and you may notice the old sleepers still visible through the earth as you walk. This is where the old railway for the mines linked to the main Settle-Carlisle railway. Keep following the path, past the weir, until you reach the caves. Be careful as the caves are situated right on the edge of the riverbank. When we visited the footpath had eroded quite badly in some places leading up to the caves, so some care is needed when walking.
To keep following the circular walk, take the path over the caves continuing through the trees, over a boarded path, until you exit the wooded area into fields. The path will then begin to head to the right once you cross the field, taking you down some steps and onto the road for a short distance. Heading right, up the road for a few minutes, the footpath continues again on the right-hand side, hidden just off the road along a short farm track between two gates.
The path runs between hedgerows and was quite overgrown and muddy when we visited so we would recommend wearing boots! This part of the path continues for some way before you reach a signpost which gives you the option to head two ways towards Long Meg. We took the right-hand path which takes you past a farm.
The stone circle of Long Meg is just the other side of the farm buildings. The stone circle is dissected by the road up to the farm which seems a bit of a shame but the stones are still worth a looking at. The footpath continues along farm track past the stones and eventually back out onto the road which takes you back into Little Salkeld.
Allow at least a couple of hours for the walk and use the OL5 OS Explorer Map.
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