Irecently described a walk around the stone circle at Castlerigg, near Keswick.
This week I’m off in search of an equally fascinating pile of ancient stones. We now know much more about these circles and we know that they were not built by the Celtic Druids as sacrificial altars dripping in blood.
From the car park explore the mill and perhaps enjoy a guided tour of the machinery and a meal. Be sure to ask if you want to walk from the mill. But there is also street parking in the village.
The word Salkeld means the spring by the willow trees and this is still an accurate description. The mill began to thrive when the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 brought peace to the border country and business could function without disruption. From the mill, turn right and ascend the steep and narrow village street.
At a T junction turn right at a sign indicating Long Meg. Climb the steep minor road until a narrow track leads off to the left.
Although this minor track is not signed it is the first turn-off to be reached and is less than half a mile from the village. Continue on a gentle climb and the footpath then bears right after 300 yards. Continue on for about the same distance to pass a very narrow road. Pass Marian Lodge to the right and go over a cattle grid.
The stone circle is approached with the main group, including Long Meg herself, on the left with a minor group of smaller stones on the opposite side of the road. The circle is privately owned but visitors are free to visit. Remember, however, that the area is grazed by cattle. This only adds to the beauty of the site. Long Meg is a tall sandstone structure but it has been suggested that Meg means magic or magician. This puts a whole new meaning to the phrase “magic circle”. It could also mean a megalith, which is a huge stone. It is considered bad luck to physically count all the stones (there are about 70). They are thought to be about 3,500 years old and are arranged in such a way as to work as an astronomical calender.
From the farm track splitting the circle a footpath bears right and then veers left, passing a farm on the left. Continue along the obvious path for around half a mile.
Approach an old cross and a minor road which marks the site of St Michael’s, also called Addingham Church.
In medieval times churches were sometimes placed away from the village so that victims of the plague could be given Christian burial.
Turn right and then right again along a minor road.
At a road junction turn right towards Little Salkeld, descend to the village and then another left back to the corn mill.