The Woodlands of Howards and Dacres

Free Guided Walk | Sunday 14th May


Leader Kay Ellis’ lively commentary on this very local walk will touch upon some fascinating points of the route. 5- 6 miles, on woodland paths, tracks and estate road. Uphill sections, not too steep.

The walk begins along the old dandy line – a dandy was a horse-drawn train – and continues through the ancient woodlands of Miltonrigg where the modern druids of Cumbria hold ceremonies during the winter months beneath an ancient beech tree.

Beyond the woods, the road to Naworth Castle offers its finest approach view. This 14th century castle was owned by the Dacre family but when Lord Dacre died in 1560, he left a widow with three daughters and a young son. Thomas Howard, fourth Duke of Norfolk, married Lady Dacre and arranged to match his three sons with her three daughters. When Lady Dacre’s son and heir was killed in a fall from a vaulting horse (or was he pushed!), the Naworth estate passed to the Howards. The youngest Howard son who married the eldest Dacre daughter, was William, known as ‘the Belted Will’.

Lord William Howard, warden of the western marches (1563-1640), was an enthusiastic hanger of Scottish Reivers. Allegedly he stretched the necks of 63 Armstrongs in just two years, making use of an oak tree in the grounds of Naworth Castle, where the stump still remains.

His Bilboa blade, by marchmen felt,

Hung in a broad and studded belt;

Hence, in rude phrase, the borderers still

Called noble Howard Belted Will.

The Belted Will stands on top of Brampton Ridge, and we’ll be heading that way via the bluebell woods of Quarry Beck. You can pop up and see him by taking the Ridge Walk back to our starting point, but if you’ don’t fancy the climb, there’s always the footpath alongside the Swartle. He’ll still be there tomorrow.