Cross Keys Inn, Temperance

Focus on history and exploration

Inscription above a door at the Cross Keys Inn:

"Great things are done when men and mountains meet: These are not done by jostling in the street."

William Blake

The Cross Keys Inn as a base

The Cross Keys Inn is a perfect stopping point between London and Scotland, seven miles east of the M6 (exit 37). It is also an ideal base for exploring an area full of gentle, breathtaking landscapes and historical associations.

A Base for Tourism

The Cross Keys Inn lies just within the northern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and is close to the Lake District National Park. We are four miles north of the market town of Sedbergh. There are many other exciting places to visit within a 35 mile radius either in the two National Parks or in the adjoining areas of Eden Valley, Mallerstang and Teesdale. To the south there is the ancient market town of Kirkby Lonsdale and the famous Devil’s Bridge, spanning the river Lune. The Vale of Lune was admired by Constable and drawn by Turner. Ruskin’s view across the Lune sweeps north from the town. There is also the thriving market town of Hawes, to the east, situated in upper Wensleydale on the river Ure. Pevsner, in the Buildings of England, described the town as; A compact, grey little town with an intricate pattern of streets.

Local History, Quakers and Limestone Upland

In the immediate vicinity there is ample opportunity to explore and enjoy. Just north and east of the A683 Kirkby Stephen to Sedbergh road is a remarkable limestone outcropping known as the Clouds. The summit of this low ridge, perched below the massive flank of Wild Boar Fell, is studded with cairns. Field barns, dry stone walls, lime kilns and the occasional fell pony add to the uniqueness of this isolated but inspiring area.

On the minor road below there is an old Quaker burial ground although no traces remain of the meeting house. The remains of a later meeting house, just north at the road junction before Street Farm, are just visible and a tree lined enclosure forms another burial ground. These indicate, perhaps, not a decaying faith but rather subtle adaptations to the changing historical circumstances for non-conforming religions.

South of Clouds is the valley of Uldale fed by the river Rawthey. A public footpath by the river meanders up to hidden waterfalls and on to one of the most remote upland valleys of the dales – Grisedale. The Dale that Died according to one account but which had a long history of religious nonconformity starting with the early Quakers in the seventeenth century and later with Methodism. Once there was a meeting house in Grisedale and here also a burial ground adjacent to the restored East Scale.

North of the Howgills a range of upland limestone outcrops and pavements lie between Shap and Kirkby Stephen – Great and Little Asby Scars. Partly a Nature Reserve and deserving of careful exploration for its archaeology, landscapes and wild flowers. The Coast to Coast path traverses the southern flanks of this limestone upland and there is also good access on other rights of way in the area.

The Howgill Connection

The villages of Dent, Ravenstonedale and Orton all merit a visit for their visual attractions as do the market towns of Kirkby Stephen and Sedbergh. The mighty river Lune flows to the west of the Howgills and both motorway and west coast railway carve through the narrow corridor at Tebay. This is also a fine area for exploration. There are the scant remains of a Roman fort at Low Borrow bridge and the line of a Roman road partly follows the minor road north from the charming hamlet of Howgill. Black Force, a breathtaking and awesome waterfall dropping out of the Howgill massif can be approached from Carlingill and there is also good walking from here on the Howgill fells with fewer paths but offering excellent views in clear weather. Care is needed in poor visibility when navigation skills are obligatory. Moving west across the Lune is Firkin Fell and the site of Fox’s Pulpit. The founding father of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) preached here in 1652 from a small chapel and later to about 1,000 people from a rock now known as the Pulpit. A little north are the smaller but enchanting valleys of Borrowdale and Bretherdale, both merit a visit.

Click here to return to the top