A couple of years ago we walked up from the village of Orton, in Westmorland, to visit Robin Hood’s Grave. The other day we went there again, not least because it features in the opening of the new Robin Hood novel I’m writing at the moment.
It was a grand day for a country walk of several miles, with good clear view of the Lakeland mountains and the Pennines.
We left Orton early, passing the ancient pillory, where wrongdoers, or perhaps just the
unfortunate poor, would have been subjected to punishment and humiliation, and the even older parish church, taking the footpath that eventually leads to Crosby Ravensworth, crossing a number of old stiles in stone-walled fields.
After a long ascent we reached an old lime-kiln and then the edge of Orton Scar. Thankfully, this area of moorland, with some outstanding limestone pavements, has now been put into the Lake District National Park – not before time.
At this point the old track becomes more defined, wider and you can see the wheel ruts of carts, which perhaps carried the refined lime down to Crosby.
You follow this track through some splendid heather moorland, keeping in the hollow and ignoring cross tracks until you reach the pile of stones that is Robin Hood’s Grave.
It almost certainly isn’t, but it is a very dramatic setting. If you read the best historical work on the outlaw, by J. C. Holt, you will discover that Robin Hood, or more often RobinHood as one word, became a generic term for many an outlaw.
There’s quite a tradition of Robin Hood in Westmorland and Cumberland. Where the stories originate is debateable. The old ballads suggest Barnsdale, but they are the first versions actually written down – it’s likely there were earlier oral ballads, probably with a different location.
They might have first gained ground here or in Sherwood Forest or Wakefield or wherever. The great local outlaw in Inglewood Forest, nearer to Carlisle, is Adam Bell, some of whose adventures are very similar to Robin Hood’s.
There are several purported Robin Hood graves scattered across England.
From the grave we followed the Coast to Coast Path, created by the almost legendary Alfred Wainwright, an easy walk across some wild countryside, following the trail back into Orton.
We had to walk some of the route again as we dropped the map. Happily we found it again. A good walk this and interesting to see another reminder of the Robin Hood legend.
If you’re looking for something to read this week, do try my Robin Hood novels. Here’s the link for the first book Loxley. The sequel Wolfshead is also available and can be found by following the same link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Loxley-Chronicles-Robin-John-Bainbridge-ebook/dp/B00WMJXRUC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1476458001&sr=1-1&keywords=loxley