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Kirkby Stephens. 2016

Helen Rose Outdoors Diary.

Kirkby Temperance  Kirkby Stephen is at the head of the Eden Valley at the Western Edge of the Yorkshire Dales and adjacent to Cumbria and the Lake District in northern England. The Glasgow HF Walking Club http://www.meetup.com/Glasgow-HF-Outdoor-Club/ arranged a walking weekend in the late September holiday weekend. We travelled down on the Friday and stayed until Monday at a rather unusual hostel which was a converted Methodist Church. We had breakfast in the main part of the church almost sitting at pews. Rather than leaving churches empty and derelict, this was a good use of the building. The town is well kept and I was fascinated by the former Temperance Hall. Fortunately there are now many good pubs in the town.

The walk on Saturday was to Hartley Fell with the Nine Standard Riggs on the top, nine very old and unique mysterious cairns on the summit. They are a variety of shapes and sizes including beehive but the reason for them being there is not known. The Nine Standards offer a better viewpoint than the Ordnance Survey trig point that marks the actual summit of the fell at 650 metres. Cross Fell and Great Dun Fell can be seen to the north-west and Wild Boar Fell and the Howgills feature in the south-west. The walk starts from Kirkby Stephen in the centre of the town over the river. Frank’s Bridge is full of stories and ghostly tales in itself. It is known as a corpse lane bridge once used to bring coffins over from the village of Hartley on the other side of the river. On the Hartley side are the stones used to rest the coffins on for a pause. Who is Frank though? A story goes that one owner of the breweries, named Frank Metcalfe was sick of supplies falling in the river when crossing via old stepping stones, he thus commissioned the bridge.

Kirby CairnsIt is pleasant walking to the summit of the on a good path. Nine Standards Rigg lies within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The standards themselves appear on and off to you throughout the walk, each time they appear getting closer and looking bigger. We were so lucky for the clear day and the views from the summit were spectacular.

The following day was a gentler walk to Nate by Podgill where we walked over an old railway viaduct. The disused trackbed of the Stainmore Railway that skirts Kirkby Stephen and has two magnificent stone viaducts at Merrygill and Podgill, has been transformed into a walking and cycle path by the Northern Viaducts Trust. We continued to Pendragon Castle, a ruin located in Mallerstang dale, Cumbria, close to the hamlet of Outhgill. It stands in an atmospheric spot above a bend in the river Eden, overlooked by Wild Boar Fell to the south-west and Mallerstang Edge to the east. It is a grade I listed building. According to legend, the castle was built by Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur, who is said to have unsuccessfully tried to divert the river to provide its moat. Uther (if he was indeed a real person) was possibly a 5th-century chieftain who led resistance to the invading Anglo-Saxons. According to another local legend, Uther and many of his men died here when the Saxons poisoned the well (but other legends give St Albans as the location for his death). There are several other "Arthurian" sites in Cumbria, for example King Arthur's Round Table, near Penrith - and many names in the North-west, such as Penrith and Cumbria have Celtic origins.

Kirby CastleWe continued the walk back to Kirkby Stephen via Lammerside Castle, a 12th century building, which was rebuilt and strengthened in the 14th century as a Pele tower, to provide protection against scots raiders. It is situated on the bridle path between Pendragon Castle and Wharton Hall. The ruins include the upstanding remains of a C14 tower or wing which originally formed part of the building’s central core, together with the earthwork remains of buildings to the north and south of the tower and a barmkin wall which enclosed a yard to the west of the tower. The castle was occupied by a branch of the Wharton family, but is thought to have been abandoned in C17, when the family moved to the fortified manor house, Wharton Hall, near Kirkby Stephen.

I travelled back by the Cross Pennine train on Monday morning. We passed through very picturesque stations on the way to Carlisle with the change there for the Glasgow train. It was a very enjoyable weekend organized by Stephen with lovely walks giving a flavor of this beautiful countryside.

Coming attractions; Madeira, Pitlochry, Jersey and the Isle of May.

Contact me at helenrose52@hotmail.com

March, 2016

 

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Avatar of HelenRose Scottish hill walker and writer for Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End.

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