Not the Giant's Caves
River Eamont (part 28)
I began the journey along the River Eamont a year ago, almost to the day. I can't believe it has taken me so long to complete the journey, but there have been so many interesting things along the way. I did hope to finish within the year and we are almost at the end, but a few things such as floods and festivities, and of course weather, have delayed a long-planned walk to an important point of the river. We will do this eventually.
Meanwhile, on our way back from Penrith this morning, Gordon and I went on a little adventure on the opposite side of the Eamont. I was in search of at least a sight of the sandstone cliffs that form the bank of the river at a point not that far from Penrith. High in the cliffs are what are locally known as the Giant's Caves.
This didn't work out as planned and so this is not a picture of the caves, or the sandstone cliffs, or even the river. This is Honeypot Farm, formerly known as Bramery. I thought it looked an imposing house. It was probably built in the 1880s, but there has been a dwelling here of some sorts going way back in history. In fact there has been evidence found around here of human occupation in the distant past. For example, a remarkable ringmarked stone found here in 1909, is now in the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle.
It is said that it is possible to get to the Caves from this farm, so we parked further down the road at Whins Pond (fishing) and walked along the lane to Honeypot. The house is close to the river, although high up above it and there were tantilising glimpses of water far below. I wasn't hopeful of actually getting to the caves, as I knew they were pretty inaccessible but I did think I could perhaps see the cliffs. The guy on a tractor who came upon us wandering through the farmyard was obviously used to people asking about the caves and gave us directions. However, the way he described it - through two gates that may or may not be open, across two fields, over a stile that may or may not be there any more, along a narrow track that is likely to be very overgrown, along a path that may have disappeared. Then he looked at what we were wearing on our feet! I don't think he was deliberately trying to put us off - but he did! We decided against it and turned round. It is almost certain that the cliffs, if not the caves, or visible from the other side of the river anyway.
There are several stories regarding the caves, which are apparently partly man-made, from being the home of the Giant Torquin, where he imprisoned virgins, to being the hiding place of a notorious robber. The most likely explanation is that they were retreats for local people in time of danger.
Hail holy glooms! and thou mysterious cell,
Wash'd by the gurgling Eimont's wildest flood,
Where for unnumber'd ages thou hast stood
A hermit-cavern in the rocky dell,
Shelter'd amid the close embowering wood
And shaded by the dimly distant fell . . .
From a sonnet 'Composed in a cell on the banks of the Eimont' written by Barbara Hoole in 1805
At least she got to the caves!