This visit was set to be a 'nothing better to do on a hostile day in Cumbria' trip, so ended up well pleased with the result, it has to be said.
OK, so the circle isn't exactly the finest you'll ever come across and - to be honest - confused the hell out of me until I walked around a bit and sussed out the large, eroded stone placed somewhat off-centre (or so it appeared to me, anyway). The problem in this respect is that the circle is situated in deep fern cover behind an area of eroded limestone pavement, making it very difficult to distinguish the two. Hmm. If it wasn't for THAT pole there would not be any fieldnotes........
However, once you've sorted out what's what.... the atmosphere - the sheer silence - takes over and you'll immediately forget you're in the most visited National Park in these Isles. If ever there's a place to simply hang out away from it all, this is it. Superb! The map showed an 'enclosure' of some description within the trees beyond the substantial dry stone wall to the east - but such was the vibe here that the thought was just too much to even contemplate. Lazy sod.
As regards access, I parked by Postman's cattle-grid coming from the direction of Askham (take the Haweswater road out of town, veering left past Whale. Then, after negotiating a couple of gates by a 'phone box now acting as a rather odd greenhouse - a red greenhouse, that is - pass the Howgate turn-off on your left and there you are). Facing the ridge, the public footpath heads for the right hand shoulder, but needless to say I made for the left-hand (northern) edge. Quite a slog, but the views across Bampton Grange etc towards Haweswater, with High Street crowning the horizon, are superb and extensive - e.g:
The pole advertising the circle isn't visible from the escarpment edge. I'd suggest you make your way to the highest point - there's a circular OS fitting instead of the usual trig point - and head 'inland' towards the trees. Worked for me, anyway.
From Shap head north-west towards Bampton Grange, just before you get there turn right onto Knipe moor, I parked next to the cattle grid
and followed the path up to the top. It was a bit of a scramble to the top but upon turning round the vista up and down the valley and to far
off High raise and High Street was gorgeous.(not being dead familiar with the lakes Ive only the map to go on)
Up on top of the Scar, Limestone pavements are scattered about and amidst them is this stone circle, a wooden pole stands within the circle
and it's this that betrays the circles whereabouts, of which type it is I am uncertain but it looks to be an embanked stone circle. The rubble
bank is mostly grown over by mosses but some sizable stones still can be seen, one of which has a hole through it big enough to pass your
hand through. A large deeply runneled limestone block sits near the cenre of the ring and a possible entrance is at the south. A few hundred
metres east amongst the trees is an enclosure but mappy couldn't say of what age it was.
I quite liked the place, it's near inaccessability, diminutive size and lack of fame meant I had two hours to myself , but I shouldn't think
theres really any need to rush up here, unlike me you just can't help yourself.
I was last here in summer when it was covered with bracken and seeing it today without the ground cover was another thing all together.
The raised ring of the circle was easy to see. Within the circle all the stones have been cleared except for the impressive central limestone block, and the few stones securing the post which marks the circle. My friend complained a bit about the post being inside the circle rather than adjacent to it, but then he's never been here before and couldn't quite get just how impossible this is to see in summer. At least then you can stand next to the post and know you're in it even if you can't see it.
Today the only vegetation was lush green moss, so tempting to lie down on, and despite the howling wind a very restful atmosphere prevailed. We would have fallen asleep if it hadnt started to rain.
We walked here from Shapbeck - a very satisfying walk past some interesting lumps bumps and groves of trees, and also much gentler than coming up from the Bampton side
This circle has been described as 'one for the enthusiast'.
We got there by parking up at the foot of the lane that leads to Scarside farm and then walked up the lane to the moor. Check out the lovely collection of stone troughs out side the farm.
At the top of the lane go through the gate and take the path to your left. This will lead you to a field wall with forestry on the other side. Follow this wall and it will lead you onto Knipe Scar common. The limestone pavements up here are beautiful and the circle is nestled within the pavements. As Stu says, the only way to spot the circle is to look for the wooden post.
The circle itself is a wild tumbled down affair composed of gnarly weather eaten limestone rocks with the odd granite stone thrown in for good measure. The use of limestone seems intentional as there are a few good-sized granite erratics laying around that could have been used.
It's worth a walk to the scar edge to check out the view. To the south you can see the smoky plumes of the Corus plant at Shap to the south west is the river Lowther and beyond that the fells of Bampton Common including Four Stones Hill. To the west you can clearly see Moor Divock tucked in between Barton Fell and Heughscar Hill. To the north you can see way past Penrith into North Cumbria.
An alternate route to the circle would be to follow the footpath that leads from the A6 and passes the Shapbeck Plantation circle, which is just over a mile to the east.
All in all a strange, ruined circle. The use of limestone and a gnarly central stone give it a Derbyshire vibe with the odd granite stone to add some Cumbrian flavour. Well worth checking out
Another site along with Little Round Table that had been bugging Fitz and myself for some time.
In July the circle was pretty bracken covered, it wasn't helped any further by being on the edge of a limestone pavement. The only thing that gave the circles location away was the wooden post planted in its centre.
The embankment(?) of the circle was constructed of chunks peeled away from the pavement, several granite stones stood out within this embankment.
A gnarled limestone block in the circles' centre being the highlight and most obvious feature of the monument.
After walking across the limestone pavement and seeing the stones used to construct the circle, we both came away thinking about the stones in the circle of Arbor Low.
... I am told that the Scar Races were held here in early summer. There is a stretch of ground more than a mile long and several yards wide which has at some period been cleared and roughly levelled like a terrace, and this is known as "the race-course."
From an article by Miss Noble: "The Stone Circle on Knipe Scar", in the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society (v 7, 1907).
"At Knipe Scar, I had the advantage of Mr Stuart's great experience and careful judgment; and the results of our examination were sufficient to satisfy us, that at some remote period burnt matter had been deposited
within the innermost of the three concentric circles. Near the centre of the larger and more perfect of the two sets of circles adjoining each
other, about 18 inches below the surface, we found a rough flat-shaped stone 15 inches in width, and about 2 feet 6 inches in length. Under
this stone were evident traces of charcoal and burnt earth, but no bones. The deposit was not exactly in the centre, but rather towards the northwest side of the circle, a peculiarity which I noted in two other instances in which the deposit was found. The diameter of the outside circle is 63 feet, the second 21 feet, and the innermost of the three within which the flat stone covering the deposit was placed, is 7 feet. From the centre of this circle to the centre of the one adjoining, the distance is 96 feet. In the centre space of this other circle, about the same depth below the surface, we found a rude pavement of cobbles about 6 feet in length and 4 feet in width, and under this pavement a similar deposit of charcoal."
STONE CIRCLES NEAR SHAP, WESTMORELAND. By THE REV. JAMES SIMPSON, VICAR OF SHAP.
Proceedings of The Society of Antiquities of Scotland.
In his most excellent book The Stone Circles of Cumbria, John Waterhouse records the following
"Knipe Scar is an elevated area of limestone 5km north-west of Shap. Simpson, writing in the middle of the 19th century, reported the presence of 3 sets of concentric stone circles on or near Knipe Scar. One was found to contain charcoal and burnt earth. The exact locations of the circles were not given, and they appear no longer to exist".
Waterhouse fails to record the Shapbeck Plantation circle in his book which makes me wonder if this could possibly be one of the lost circles.
As for the Knipe Moor circle Waterhouse places this comment in the postscript to his book.
"Also not included (in the book) is the circle of boulders on the limestone pavement of Knipe Scar near Shap. This site is a circular enclosure about 15m in diameter seemingly made by re-arranging some of the numerous blocks of limestone on the top of the hill. Although the site is labelled 'stone circle' on Ordnance Survey maps, it appears to be entirely different from the sort of sites described in this book".
The Stone Circles of Cumbria
Pub. Phillimore & Co Ltd.