Walking in Cumbria's Eden Valley
30 routes between source and sea
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A guidebook to 30 walks in the Eden Valley of Cumbria. The routes range from 3 to 17 miles in length and explore the river Eden from above Kirkby Stephen past Penrith and Carlisle to the Solway Firth. Many of the walks have views of the Lake District, Pennines and Scottish hills, and link with the Settle-Carlisle railway line.
- All year – each season holds its own delights
- Kirkby Stephen, Appleby, Crosby Ravensworth, Dufton, Penrith, Kirkoswald, Armathwaite, Castle Carrock, Brampton, Carlisle
- terrain includes pathless moorland, farmland and good riverside tracks and trails; routes range from 5km to 27km; no technical difficulties.
- Must See
- Cross Fell, the highest point on the Pennines; breath-taking High Cup; the ruins of Brougham and Pendragon castles; limestone pavement above Crosby Ravensworth and Orton; abandoned churches; prehistoric settlements; delightful red sandstone villages; pretty wooded gorges; disused railways; and one of the largest and most atmospheric stone circles in England.
If Cumbria’s beautiful Eden Valley were anywhere but right next to the Lake District, it would be full of tourists. As it is though, few venture this far from the National Park, leaving locals to delight in the fact that they have this wonderful area, with its rich natural and human heritage, all to themselves.
This guidebook covers routes from the source of the River Eden, high in the wild Pennines, through gorgeous, undulating countryside and past pretty red sandstone villages, right up to the vast, open expanses of the Solway marshes on the Scottish border.
Most of the walks are circular, but there are a few linear walks that make use of the area’s regular rail service, including the Settle-Carlisle railway line.
Walkers can enjoy anything from day-long moorland hikes to gentle riverside and woodland strolls, taking in ruined castles, attractive gorges, flower-filled meadows, limestone pavement, prehistoric settlements, rock-cut caves and one of England’s largest stone circles.
- 30 walks from 3 to 17 miles, graded 1 to 5, many linking with the Settle–Carlisle railway line
- packed with information about local history
- illustrated with OS map extracts
The Eden Valley
Wildlife and habitats
Where to stay
Waymarking and access
Clothing, equipment and safety
Using this guide
Walk 1 Mallerstang and Nine Standards
Walk 2 Wild Boar Fell
Walk 3 The Infant Eden and Pendragon Castle
Walk 4 Kirkby Stephen to Appleby
Walk 5 Smardale Gill
Walk 6 Great Asby Scar
Walk 7 Crosby Ravensworth Fell
Walk 8 Maulds Meaburn and the Lyvennet Valley
Walk 9 Rutter Force
Walk 10 River Lyvennet at King's Meaburn
Walk 11 River Lowther at Bampton Grange
Walk 12 Lowther Park
Walk 13 Flakebridge Wood and Dufton Ghyll
Walk 14 Dufton Pike
Walk 15 High Cup
Walk 16 Mayburgh Henge and Brougham Castle
Walk 17 Culgaith and Acorn Bank
Walk 18 Cross Fell
Walk 19 Long Meg and Lacy's Caves
Walk 20 Melmerby Fell
Walk 21 Raven Beck and Kirkoswald
Walk 22 Armathwaite and Coombs Wood
Walk 23 Croglin and Newbiggin
Walk 24 Wetheral to Armathwaite
Walk 25 Talkin Fell and Simmerson Hill
Walk 26 Talkin Tarn and the Gelt
Walk 27 Quarry Beck and Ridgewood
Walk 28 Carlisle to Rockcliffe along the River Eden
Walk 29 Burgh Marsh
Walk 30 Rockcliffe Marsh
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Useful contacts
The map extracts used in this book are taken from the Ordnance Survey's 1:50,000 Landranger series. They are meant as a guide only and walkers are advised to purchase the relevant map(s), and know how to navigate using them, before setting off. The whole area is covered by sheets 85, 86, 90, 91 and 98.
The OS 1:25,000 Explorer series provides greater detail, showing field boundaries as well as the extent of access land. To complete all the walks in this guide using Explorer maps, you will need sheets 315, OL5, OL31 and OL19.
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Walk 19 (Long Meg and Lacy’s Caves)
The riverside path from Daleraven Bridge (NY 565 395) to Little Salkeld (NY 563 362) has been formally closed due to flood damage. As yet, there is no timetable for re-opening. This means that walk 19 can no longer be completed except as a linear route from the start point in Little Salkeld as far as Daleraven Bridge. This section of the walk (2¾ miles/4.5km) visits Long Meg and Her Daughters and St Michael and All Angels Church at Addingham. There is no public transport from Daleraven Bridge to enable walkers to return to Little Salkeld.
August 2016Walk 1 (Mallerstang and Nine Standards):Change to page 35: Due to the creation of a new shared cycleway to Kirkby Stephen Station, the final paragraph, starting “Turn right along the track…” should be replaced with the following:“Turn right along the track and then immediately left to follow the shared walkway and cycle path. This leads up to Kirkby Stephen Station’s access lane.”Walk 2 (Wild Boar Fell):Due to changes to paths and path furniture on walk two (Wild Boar Fell), the author suggests the first four paragraphs on pages 36 and 37 be replaced with the following:“Leave Garsdale Station, turn right along the minor road and down to a T-junction with the A684. Cross over and go through a gated stile in the wall opposite. There isn’t a clear path on the ground; simply keep about 40m between yourself and the wall on your left, and you will reach a squeeze stile. Go through and continue in roughly the same direction.Beyond the next gated stile, head NNW along the grassy path – in the general direction of Swarth Fell in the distance. Go through two kissing-gates in quick succession next to the house at Blake Mire. Turn right along a rough track for 75m and then bear left along a narrow, grassy path heading NW. This passes through a gap in a wall about 50m to the left of a small barn. Following the waymarker posts, continue in the same direction to go through a stile. Drop to some ruined buildings, picking up a rough track en route. Follow this to a surfaced lane and turn right.Follow the lane until it ends above East House. Turn right along the grassy track, but follow it for only 30m. You’ll see a faint pair of parallel paths heading left – like overgrown quad bike tracks. Follow these uphill, heading NE at first but quickly swinging N to reach the ridge fence. The clear route now heads NW with the bleak, peaty dome of Baugh Fell to the left and occasional glimpses of the Howgills. Make your way across a few boggy patches to a stile. Cross and turn left along a faint path beside the fence.”Also, for ease of navigation in the Greenlaw Rigg area, the paragraph starting “Soon after joining another wall…” on page 39 should be replaced with the following:“You’ll pick up the line of another wall – this one on your right. Follow it for about 140m and then bear left at a fork, heading N on to Greenlaw Rigg. The path is reasonably clear as it then descends NW, but becomes less obvious in its final stages. At this point, walk N and you’ll quickly reach a minor road. Turn left along the asphalt for 350m. Take the bridleway signposted to the right. Keep straight on at a crossing of paths and you’ll soon see two tracks passing under the railway. Keep left to pass through the more northerly of two gaps.”Finally, following the creation of a new shared cycleway to Kirkby Stephen Station, the final paragraph on page 40/41, starting “The track ends near Halfpenny House…” should be replaced with the following:“Just before the cattle grid at Halfpenny House, turn left along the shared walkway and cycle path. This leads up to Kirkby Stephen Station’s access lane.”Walk 28 (Carlisle to Rockcliffe):Unfortunately, Rockcliffe has lost its bus link with Carlisle. Walkers hoping to complete this linear walk will need two cars. Alternatively, they can ring for a taxi on arrival in Rockcliffe. At the time of writing (August 2016), the fare back to Carlisle was about £15.
Walk 17: pages 108-109
Due to a landslip in Hag Wood, the path beside the River Eden near the start of the walk is now only passable with extreme caution. The local council is monitoring ground movement in the area and will reinstate the path once the area has settled. In the meantime, walkers are advised to avoid this section of the walk. Until the path has been reinstated, we suggest replacing the first two paragraphs with the following route description:
“With your back to the pub in Culgaith, turn right. When the road bends right, turn left along a lane. After about 1km you will reach a T-junction. Turn right here – towards Penrith and Appleby.”
This reduces the total walk distance to 7.9km (5 miles) with 132m (430ft) of ascent. Walking time: 2½ hours.
Pages 151-152 (Talkin Fell and Simmerson Hill)
Some of the fences on Talkin Fell and Simmerson Hill have been taken down. Consequently, the two paragraphs on page 151 and the first paragraph on page 152 should now read:
“Eventually, you will lose the fence/wall on your right. After going through a gate to the left of a sheepfold, keep following the wall on your left. At a fork, bear left – still with the wall and climbing more steeply now. The wallside trail reaches a ladder stile. Cross this and you will see Talkin Fell’s trig pillar straight ahead.
From the summit, retrace your steps across the ladder stile. Follow the path you took earlier, but only for a few yards; as soon as it forks, bear left, now heading away from the wall. The narrow path gently descends and crosses a flat, boggy area. It joins a reasonably clear, grassy path coming in from the right.
On nearing the base of the short slope on to Simmerson Hill, bear right (S) along a faint path. Almost immediately, turn left (E) along a narrow trail. You’ll need to watch carefully for this turning because it’s easy to miss. The ascending trail briefly gets a little steeper as it makes its way up through the small jumble of rocks forming a rim around the western side of Simmerson Hill. At the top of this short climb, turn right along a faint path along the edge of the heathery fell. The path later becomes slightly more track-like and then swings sharp right (S) to head downhill. Nearing the valley bottom, it drops on to a wider, clearer track, along which you turn right.”
Page 168 (Carlisle to Rockcliffe along the River Eden)
The third paragraph on page 168 refers to potential “lengthy diversions”. Road building in the area has now been completed and the footpath diversions have all been lifted.
This new guidebook describes a wide variety of routes from the source of the river Eden, high in the wild Pennines, through charming villages, right up to the open expanses of the Solway marshes on the Scottish border.
Vivienne gives very clear step-by-step descriptions of each route, taking care to miss out nothing of interest which might enhance the enjoyment of the walk. The lovely photos illustrate the variety and changes in the landscape through which we pass.
I enjoyed reading the historical notes as well as the geological and botanical information which adds so much to the understanding of what we see around us.
This is a very competently written, inviting guide to this lovely area.
Keswick Reminder, July 2011
‘The book is nicely illustrated with photographs of engaging buildings and features along the routes and it also includes some interesting snippets about local history.’
The Westmorland Gazette, August 2011
Vivienne is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specialising in travel and the outdoors. A journalist since 1990, she abandoned the constraints of a desk job on regional newspapers in 2001 to go travelling. On her return to the UK, she decided to focus on the activities she loves the most – hill-walking, writing, travelling and photography. Based in north Cumbria, she has put her intimate knowledge of northern England to good use, writing more than a dozen popular walking guidebooks. She also contributes to a number of regional and national magazines, including several regular walking columns. Vivienne is a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild.View Articles and Books by Vivienne Crow
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