Layers of magic and mystery are revealed on a winter walk through this spectcular garden - once the playground of the Lowther family who lived in the now ruined castle. Stunning vistas, hidden dens and red squirrels abound as you explore 130 acres - there's no off limit signs here! Warm your hands and feet afterwards in the Stable Courtyard Cafe - great coffee and scones.
The most delicious cake and welcome cup of tea on a cool and wet day at Annie's kitchen table will bring a smile to anyone's face. Set-up as cycle cafe (you can park in the village if you really need too), there is also a wonderful tea garden for those non-rainy Cumbrian days and Annie hosts a great range of 'Quirky Workshops' - we loved the spoon carving course, but it's the lunch that sticks in my mind. Whether you're doing the Coast-to-Coast cycle route or travelling up the M6 - you must drop in.
Long Meg and Her Daughters is one of the largest and most atmospheric of all the Stone Circles in the UK.
Set above the beautiful Eden Valley in Cumbria it has a spiritual quality and calming atmosphere.
More often than not you will be the only person there.
Visit at dusk and watch the sun set in the distance behind Blencathra bathing the Pennine Hills behind you in a warm glow. You can align a setting sun in the groove atop the stone that is Long Meg herself. The circle itself is her 'Daughters'.
Then walk around the circle counting the stones. Legend has it that they hide and no matter how many times you count them you will reach a different number.
It is un-toursity, no stalls selling you trinkets, no ticket to pay, no car parking charges.
Long Meg is close to Langwathby Station on the famous Settle-Carlisle railway line and just off the A686, Penrith to Alston road, described by the AA as one of the ten best drives in the world.
A lovely place to visit and quietly calm a busy and stressed mind.
Little Slakeld in the Eden Valley, near Penrith.
Close to Langwathby Station on the famous Settle-Carlisle railway line and just off the A686, Penrith to Alston road.
Grid Ref NY570372.
Key in Long Meg Walk for a Discover Eden walk from Little Salkeld taking in River Eden, De Lacey’s cave and Long Meg.
Google map: bit.ly/smBwX9
Cumbrian folklore says that Long Meg and her daughters were witches turned to stone as a punishment for dancing here on the Sabbath. Take care. If you count the same number of stones twice, they will come back to life.
But Long Meg and her daughters are not related. Long Meg, at twelve feet high, is made of local red sandstone. She stands back from the main circle to catch the dying winter solstice sun. The other 50 stones are granite.
Together, they make one of the largest stone circles in Britain, dating back to 1500 BC. Yet so few people have heard of them. The mysterious cup and ring marks, like carved tattoos on Long Meg’s shoulders, face all four corners of the compass.
Wordsworth wrote a poem about the “sisterhood” of the stones urging their “giant mother” to speak.
We found them after an autumn walk along the river Eden, near Little Salkeld. Just before we emerged from a wood to the stone circle, our children spotted a red squirrel, which brought a different kind of magic to our day.
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