This was our third visit to this little known stone circle and we were yet again impressed at both it's size and location. We also took a look at Long Meg's poor relation, Little Meg, just a stone's throw away. Gosh, this was absolutely tiny, comparing the two.
Long Meg and her Daughters is a Bronze Age stone circle, little known and one of Cumbria's best kept secrets. Long Meg is over 12 feet tall and stands some distance from the rest of the stones, her daughters. Engraved on Long Meg are a cup and ring and spiral, clearly visible.
Originally there were over seventy stones in the circle but today fifty nine are left with twenty-seven of these still standing. The stones are reputed to be uncountable, ie; the number counted is never the same!
The best known tale tells of the circle as being a coven of witches in the 13thc. who fell under a Scottish wizard's spell which turned them all to stone. I like that idea!
The circle is well off the beaten track, on a very minor road, signposted from the A686 and about 6.5 km. north east of Penrith, 0.5 km from Little Salkeld.
We arrived here on our first and second visits in the motorhome in the pouring rain and were fortunate to be able to park in one of the two very small parking areas. There is room to turn round (as the road is a dead end) if you continue towards the farm.
While we were there, a lone woman, in the torrential rain, went round all the stones, touching each one in turn. I'm not sure of the significance of this. It is an impressive sight though and I would love to see it from the air to get a true idea of it's size.
On our last visit, we shared the site with a couple of young women who seemed over-awed at the place. We noticed a tree had been festooned with offerings, ranging from ribbons to teddy bears. It all looked rather tacky to me, I'm not sure why people do this.
Before we left home, I had looked at the local map and spotted the name Lacy's Caves. After googling, I found some photos. Definitely worth a visit, I thought.And I wasn't wrong....
The caves are carved out of the brilliantly red sandstone cliffs, high above the river Eden, between Kirkoswald and Little Salkeld.There is a well maintained footpath (can be wet in parts!!) following the Eden to the caves.
Five chambers have been hewn into the cliff; much more extensive than I had at first thought, and most impressive. There is evidence of metal brackets in the walls, probably to hold some form of seating as the caves are thought to have been used either for entertainment or as a wine store. Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Lacy of Salkeld Hall commissioned their carving in the 18th century, when it was trendy to create follies and grottoes for pleasure. Originally they were surrounded by ornamental gardens so it must have been no mean feat creating this little lot!!
We walked through all the caves and noticed many people over the years had carved their names into the sandstone and we began to understand how they had been carved when we found we could easily scrape the cliff face away with our fingers. Be warned that the caves open out via arches onto sheer drops down to the river. Not for the faint hearted.
The River Eden offers umpteen opportunities for walking along. We chose a walk taking us to Lacy's Caves, just east of Lazonby. This walk can either be started from Eden Bridge or as we did, off the minor road to Glassonby. Here there is a small parking area from where the footpath leads uphill and along the top of the river bank. There is a steep, unfenced drop here so be aware! Gradually the path leads down to the river and takes you through the woods, full of bluebells and wild garlic on our visit. We were constantly on the look-out for red squirrels, which Nick did spot but not me, unfortunately. We were also looking for any sign of fish in the river but saw nothing jump or anything to cause any excitement, disappointingly.
After Lacy's Caves (separate tip) the path continues to Little Salkeld.
Other places to walk along the river are too numerous to name, just look at OS map 85 and follow the river where dotted lines are.