We’re currently undertaking a project to bring together information to help visitors and residents alike, learn and discover more about Askham and Helton. We will build up details of things to see and do and will provide links to resources as these are developed.
Geology and Landscape Interpretation
The village of Askham runs down a slope from the fellside at the top, to the River Lowther at the bottom. On the far side of the river there is a steep slope, a cliff, on top of which are the ruins of Lowther castle. The slope is made of dipping beds of limestone, one on top of the other, with the oldest beds at the top of the hill. This limestone was laid down 320 million years ago, when England was close to the Equator, in a shallow tropical sea with corals, sea lilies, and shelly sand, like the Bahamas today. In the ice age this was covered by ice flowing from the south west, laying down a sheet of boulder clay.
The stones that were used for the village houses and walls include rough pale blocks of the limestone, rounded cobbles and boulders from the boulder clay, squared grey blocks of sandstone from up on the fell and slates from slate quarries some way away. Stone for the posh houses came from further away, of course.
As you head upwards from Askham there are springs coming out of the limestone that feed Askham Beck. This used to run open down the village street but is now under cover. If you listen for it you can still hear the water rushing down.
As you reach the bottom of the village, the building stones change. Red sandstone was used even for ordinary houses because it could be got more easily than limestone. Across the river are cliffs of the sandstone with only a few beds of limestone in it. The shallow tropical sea of the limestones was invaded by a sandy delta advancing from the north. This was only rarely covered by the sea.
The River Lowther runs through a gorge upstream that was cut as the ice melted at the end of the ice age. In the autumn, salmon come up the river to spawn.
The village was built on a steep slope running down from the limestone fells to the flood plain of the River Lowther. The flood plain is regularly flooded, when it turns into a single lake three miles long and a mile wide. Across the river is Lowther Park with a single bed of limestone running across the hillside on the edge of the park.
Natural History – check back for details later
Archaeology – check back for details later
Built Heritage – check back for details later
Cultural Heritage – check back for details later