Lacy’s Caves can be found on the banks of the River Eden. In the 18th Century Colonel Lacy commissioned these caves to be carved out of the sandstone rock. Originally he had rhododendron gardens landscaped for his guests to walk through before he would entertain them at the caves himself. The walk is still a pleasant amble through the woods and the caves a bizarre surprise. The rhododendrons still thrive.
Little Salkeld is the starting point for the walk. It is a few miles east of Penrith. It is a very small village and there is limited parking. Turn left at the sign for Long Meg and left again at the grass triangle. You should find somewhere to park along this road.
To reach the caves, carry on along this road on foot. The road forks right to a farm track and it is just a case of following the path to the caves. If you have dogs or children with you, please note that there are some sheer drops near the path. The caves are in the woods on the edge of the river and are great fun to explore. Try and find all the intricate carvings too.
From Colonel Lacy’s caves you can either turn back to Little Salkeld the way you came or carry on to Long Meg stone circle (which apparently Colonel Lacy once tried to blow up when he lived at Salkeld Hall).
To reach Long Meg from the caves, carry on along the riverside path, then across a field, over the brow of the hill and cross over the stile. This takes you to Daleraven Bridge and the road. Turn right here and walk up the road for about 500 yards. Follow the road along the sharp left bend, and then the double bend and then immediately after this turn right through a gap towards a gate (there is no footpath sign here until after you have gone through).
Follow the path to the end and then turn right (signed Long Meg). Follow the path towards Longmeg Farm and then follow the farm road to Long Meg and Her Daughters stone circle (sometimes referred to as ‘Maughanby Circle’).
Long Meg is easy to spot; she is nearly 4 metres tall! There are some 27 stones that remain upright although originally the stone circle was much bigger with about 70 stones. There are one or two examples of megalithic art and the four corners of Long Meg face the four points of the compass. Rather at odds with the setting, the farm track goes right through the middle of the stone circle.
To get back to Little Salkeld follow the farm track back to the road, turn right and walk along the road back to Little Salkeld (note that there are no pavements).
Now it’s time for a well earned treat. Back in the village on the road into Little Salkeld is the water mill that produces and sells organic flour. The attached tearoom smells unbelievably tempting, with a vegetarian menu of home made cakes, soups, tarts and pies. Definitely worth a stop!