SMARDALE FELL, SMARDALE & WAITBY
from KIRKBY STEPHEN

 


Summary

Date - 16th June 2017 Distance - 9.5 miles
Ascent -
1350ft
Map - OL19 Start point - Kirkby Stephen car park (NY 7729 0881)

 

Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk

 

Preface

Little Eric had the iPad in paw, and looking up said, "there's a day down for a walk with Uncle Eric on Friday."

"Good", cheered Southey. "What are the weather prospects?"

A few more taps ensued. "A sunny start, but clouding over later, but dry nevertheless."

"So where to go, then", mused Tetley.

"Dad has copied a few walks from the Westmorland Gazette that Uncle Eric had suggested looked worth doing", said Allen.

"Hmm, let's have a look a them", agreed Tetley.

Progress on this however was stopped as just then Shaun, Grizzly and Little Eric arrived with the tea and cakes.

"Great", cheered Allen, "I'm gasping for a cuppa."

"No surprise there", replied Tetley letting out a bellow of laughter.

Meanwhile Southey had got the mugs and plates. "I'll lend a paw helping you fill the mugs."

"Thanks pal", said Shaun.

"So what delights are in the cake tins today?", asked Tetley.

Grizzly replied, "Little Eric has made mincemeat slice, while from me there are cherry and ginger scones with butter and raspberry jam."

"Ooh, my very favourite scones", called out Allen, helping himself. Then a bit later, "they are truly scrumptious."

"So is the mincemeat slice", added Shaun.

"Right" said Allen. "Southey will you come and help me lift the binder down so we can look at those walks from Uncle Eric."

"Sure pal."

Leafing through, Southey said, "here they are,"

"Some we have already done", said Grizzly, "but this from Sedbergh to Smardale has not."

So we read it through. "I think that looks to be excellent", said Little Eric. "How about we suggest this to Dad to discuss with Uncle Eric."

"Fine", said Allen, taking the copy, and then draining his mug, trotted off.

"You had better refill it", suggested Tetley to Shaun, "we all know what a tea belly he is."

Allen was soon back. "Thanks pal", he said accepting the mug of steaming tea from Shaun. "Dad agrees with our suggestion. Just a case of seeing if Uncle Eric likes it too."

Well as can see seen he did and here is our account of the adventure.

 

The Walk

So on a day sunny to start but rather dull later, and breezy, we met Uncle Eric at the car park in Kirkby Stephen, just off the road to Soulby.

"Hello Uncle Eric", we called out, "so nice to see you."

"And you too Lads", he replied.

While Dad got ready, we settled in his rucksack, so as not to cause any delay.

Walking across the car park, it was then left on the path signed Town Centre.

"Just look at all the rabbits in that garden", called out Little Eric.

"There's at least a dozen if not more", said Allen, having done a quick count.

At Faraday road, Shaun said, "we go right."

Followed this to the point where Westgarth Avenue swings right, to then go on ahead along narrow Croglam Lane. This is lined on the left with garages for the houses on the main road then further on bounded by a tall wall, over which we could see this building with grass on the roof.

A signpost at a junction indicated we should keep on towards Greenriggs...

...and then the same at the next junction, joining a track that meandered its way to Greenriggs Farm.

"That is a lovely shaped tree" pointed Tetley.

Through the farm the way went left to pass by the walls of the dismantled railway bridge.

"Now it is through that gate to the right, to pass a barn...

...and continue to a gated gap stile in the far left corner", instructed Shaun.

The countryside was so green and the trees looked magnificent, with wild flowers in the hedgerows. "Oh how fortunate we are to have such adventures", said Southey.

Beyond we kept just above the valley, to drop down at the end and come to a fence in disrepair.

"Edmondson (the author) refers to a gate", said Shaun.

"Well the only one we can see is that in the wall at the far end of the fence", commented Allen.

However after passing through it was obvious that this was not the way, and in fact we should have gone through the fence and half right to a stile in the wall. This we did after doubling back, to follow a clear path and go under the railway and cross the field to a stile onto the road.

"It's left, then at the next junction right following the sign for Smardale", advised Shaun.

This done and reaching the next corner a sign Coast to Coast Brownber pointed left. "That's our route", said Uncle Eric.

Keeping parallel with the wall on the right we climbed the open and extensive slopes of Smardale Fell.

As can be seen the sheep were grazing, and with some encouragement from Southey, Dad snapped this shot.

"I don't mind", said Allen. "Its a Herdwick ewe with its lamb. What a lovely face the lamb has."

"We need to appear in the story", said Grizzly, "how about we sit by those rocks just ahead."

"Good idea", agreed Tetley.

"When the wall drops away right, it is then along the wide track left", said Uncle Eric.

Climbing on the view ahead opened up our route being to the left of the parallel walls seen below. They went on and on out of sight from here as the ground dropped away.

More sheep were grazing including this lamb.

"That's enough now for this story", said Allen firmly.

On and on we walked through a gate or two, almost to Smardale packhorse bridge.

However just before we took the path that can be seen going diagonally right from the wall to the bottom of the picture. This was signed Smardale Viaduct, that could be seen in the distance.

This path meandered on up and down with superb views of the valley. High on the hill to the right stand the forlorn remains of abandoned railway houses.

The long closed railway line used to run high above the valley to our left. "Just look at that huge retaining wall that had to be built to support the track", said Southey with wonder in his voice.

The path climbed on, Tetley saying, "looks to be a good place to photograph Smardale Viaduct."

The viaduct which is 90ft high with fourteen stone arches, carried the old North Eastern Railway line across the dramatic valley of Scandal Beck. It was built in 1861 by the Cumbrian engineer Sir Thomas Bouch as part of the South Durham & Lancashire Union Railway, which crossed the Pennines to carry coke to the iron and steel furnaces in the Barrow area and West Cumberland. The line was closed in 1962 after steelmaking finished. The trackbed for several miles at each end of the viaduct already belonged to the Cumbria Wildlife Trust as a national nature reserve, and the viaduct was vital link between the two sections. In the Autumn of 1992 after a major restoration, the viaduct was formally handed over to the trust by the late Lord Whitelaw, together with the nearby Drygill viaduct, to become a permissive footpath. (source www.visitcumbria.com)

The path climbed finally to Smardale Gill Nature Reserve via a stile at the end of the viaduct.

Southey marvelled at the feat of engineering to build this, and remarked, "it is actually curved."

Tetley said, "Shaun and I have been here before in the days when just the two of us went walking. If I recall correctly Dad took a picture showing the curve and the arches reflected on the ground."

Dad had his old rucksack then and Shaun can be seen peeking out.

So turning their backs to the viaduct, Dad and Uncle Eric walked the surfaced railway track, through the nature reserve, passing under the other Smardale Viaduct that carries the Settle-Carlisle line...

...and finally reaching the road at Smardale Hall, built in the 15th and 16th centuries.

"It is right here towards Waitby", said Uncle Eric.

There were wildflowers in the verges, Allen saying, "it would be nice to include some pictures in the story."

Along here too, we passed this building the central section of which had once been Waitby and Smardale School.

The top of the tablet on the porch reads - 'This school was rebuilt by subscription A. D. 1867'
and below - 'This schoole built by Mr James Highmoore borne in Waitbys cloth worker in London for the use of Waitby and Smardale. Anno Domini 1680.

Soon now we came to the small hamlet of Waitby. As we walked through Shaun said, "it is right over a stile by Prospect House."

This was the path after the stile, prompting Grizzly to comment, "it's a good job you are not in shorts today, Dad."

The instructions were a little vague here, but was probably because the undergrowth had totally obliterated the path, as it just seemed to be a dead end. There was no sign of the stone bridge the instructions indicated we had to cross.

"I'll go to the bottom of the bank and see if we can find a way", said Dad.

Here he found a gap in the trees onto a dry stream bed, calling to Uncle Eric, "we can get through this way."

He came down, then they made their way along the stream bed, exiting on the left side. Now in view was the stone bridge, almost lost amongst the trees and bushes.

Followed the overgrown path left that led us to a stile by a gate onto the road.

It's left here", called out Shaun.

This took us over two railway bridges over the long closed lines.

As we crossed the second, Shaun instructed, "at the next corner it's through a narrow signed pinch stile to the right."

Beyond the path led to another into a huge field. Here crossed this towards the distant white house to a gate, and over a flat bridge, to then go half right to another bridge and then left to cross a third.

Then through a gate on the right and up this wide grassy hedged/fenced track.

At the top it was right through a gate, to then continue down left on a clear path, to a stile. Then on and on to pass to the left of the school playing fields and via a stile onto the road, where going right it was just a short way to the car park.

"Thanks Uncle Eric, that was a super walk, and for us all in countryside we have mostly not walked before", said Allen.

"Just glad you enjoyed it lads", he replied.

"And thank you for your company as always", went on Little Eric.

Now while we had our picnic in the car, Dad and Uncle Eric went to the Mulberry Bush cafe. Uncle Eric had a toasted teacake while Dad had a cheese scone and of course a pot of tea to wash them down.

Grand day!

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