Walking in Cumbria's Eden Valley
30 walks between the Yorkshire Dales and the Solway salt marshes
Guidebook to 30 graded walks in Cumbria's Eden Valley. The routes, which range from 3 to 15 miles and are best from bases such as Kirkby Stephen and Appleby, explore the region's diverse landscapes and offer dramatic views, either of the Pennines, Lake District or the Scottish hills. Linear routes link with the Settle-Carlisle railway.
SeasonsAll year round - each season holds its own delights - but walkers should be prepared for the possibility of snow on the hills in winter.
CentresKirkby Stephen, Appleby, Crosby Ravensworth, Dufton, Penrith, Kirkoswald, Armathwaite, Brampton, Carlisle.
DifficultyTerrain includes pathless moorland, which can be boggy in places, farmland and good riverside tracks and trails. Routes from 6-24km, graded 1-5. Navigational competence and stamina is required for some of the higher routes. No scrambling involved.
Must SeeCross Fell, the highest point on the Pennines; breath-taking High Cup; the ruins of Pendragon Castle; limestone pavement within the extended Yorkshire Dales National Park; a disused railway and imposing viaduct in Smardale Gill; prehistoric settlements; delightful red sandstone villages; pretty wooded gorges; and one of the largest and most atmospheric stone circles in England.
Guidebook to 30 of the best walks in Cumbria's enchanting Eden Valley. The graded routes, which range from 3 to 15 miles, explore the region's diverse landscapes and offer dramatic views, either of the Pennines, the Lake District or the Scottish hills.
The walks, which work well from bases such as Kirkby Stephen, Dufton and Appleby, are predominantly circular. All included linear routes link with the Settle-Carlisle railway. Map extracts from the 1:50K OS Landranger series accompany route description, and the handy route summary table makes it easy for walkers to compare routes. Invaluable information on transport, accommodation, clothing, equipment and safety is included, as are notes on the region's geology, wildlife and history.
Situated next to the iconic Lake District, the Eden Valley is often overlooked as a walking destination. This works in its favour - it is as quiet as it is scenic - making it the perfect destination for those looking to escape the crowds. The featured routes are designed to give the walker a taste of everything the area has to offer. From peaceful woodland strolls to serious moorland hikes, and from explorations of the limestone uplands to walks on the Solway marshes, they visit just about every nook and cranny in the valley.
The Eden Valley
Wildlife and habitats
Where to stay
Waymarking and access
Clothing, equipment and safety
Using this guide
Walk 1 Wild Boar Fell
Walk 2 Mallerstang Edge and High Seat
Walk 3 Nine Standards
Walk 4 Smardale Fell and Ash Fell Edge
Walk 5 Crosby Garrett Fell and Smardale Gill
Walk 6 The Infant Eden and Pendragon Castle
Walk 7 Kirkby Stephen to Appleby
Walk 8 Great Asby Scar
Walk 9 Potts Valley and the Orton Fells
Walk 10 Crosby Ravensworth Fell
Walk 11 Knipescar Common and River Lowther
Walk 12 River Lyvennet at King’s Meaburn
Walk 13 Rutter Force and Hoff Beck
Walk 14 High Cup and Scordale
Walk 15 Murton Pike
Walk 16 Flakebridge Wood and Dufton Ghyll
Walk 17 Dufton Pike
Walk 18 High Cup via Great Rundale
Walk 19 Cross Fell
Walk 20 Long Meg and Her Daughters
Walk 21 Melmerby Fell
Walk 22 Kirkoswald and Raven Beck
Walk 23 Armathwaite and Coombs Wood
Walk 24 Croglin and Newbiggin
Walk 25 Wetheral
Walk 26 Talkin Fell and Simmerson Hill
Walk 27 Talkin Tarn and the Gelt
Walk 28 Quarry Beck and Ridgewood
Walk 29 Burgh Marsh
Walk 30 Campfield Marsh and Bowness Common
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Useful contacts
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This valley is a hidden gem which deserves to be more well known
If Cumbria’s Eden Valley were anywhere but right next to the Lake District it would be full of tourists. As it is, this beautiful valley is one of my favourite “hidden gems” from a walking point of view.
A lovely walking book, “Walking in Cumbria’s Eden Valley” by Vivienne Crow has recently been republished by Cicerone. This was originally published seven years ago but all the walks have been updated and several added to reflect the parts of the area that were incorporated into the Yorkshire Dales National Park two years ago.
Twenty eight of the thirty walks in the book are circular but two are linear making used of the Settle to Carlisle railway that uses the Eden Valley for the latter part of its route. These are a walk from Garsdale Head station to Kirkby Stephen station via the summits for Swarth Fell Pike and Wild Boar Fell and a second walk from Kirkby Stephen station to Appleby station via Scandal Beck and the side of the River Eden itself.
The walks range in distance from 3½ miles to 15 miles although the latter (Kirkby Stephen station to Appleby station) is relatively easy compared with the 13¾ mile walk from Murton with its 2,000 feet of ascent including a visit to High Cup Nick.
A number of significant fells are included in these walks including Nine Standards Rigg, Great Asby Scar, Murton Pike, Dufton Pike and Cross Fell, the highest point in the Pennine chain.
All the walks include well written descriptions, 1:50000 Ordnance Survey maps and some stunning photographs all of which one would expect from author Vivienne Crow, a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild.
As well as the walks themselves there are sections in the book on Geology, Wildlife, History, Weather, Where to Stay, Transport, Waymarking Maps, Equipment and Safety. There are also two appendices; a route summary table listing all the walks with their distances, walking time and gradings plus an appendix of useful contacts for the area.
The first walk in the book starts at the source of the River Eden in the high Pennines at Black Fell Moss and the thirtieth concludes, seventy-five miles later, where the river joins the sea by the Solway marshes to the west of Carlisle at Bowness on Solway. Between these points are a plethora of wonderful walks visiting castles such as Pendragon and the Long Meg Stone Circle, some 4,500 years old near Little Salkeld.
As I said earlier, this valley is a hidden gem which deserves to be more well known and this book contains walks for all ages and abilities. The cost of the book is £12.95 (which works out at 43p per walk) and would be an ideal Christmas present for both keen walkers and families.
Walks for all ages
Here are 30 walks in an area I have lived in for nearly 40 years. I have observed a lot of wildlife in many of the walks from flocks of wild geese out on the Solway to Black Grouse up on the Pennines. Many of the walks take you into high ground so look out for alpine plants as well as some amazing geology. There is even a great butterfly walk at Smardale [best in June or July] or check in the clints and grykes for those hidden gems in the Orton Fells. There are walks for all ages and certainly on every one you will see wildlife.
An example of what Cicerone does so well.
An example of what Cicerone does so well. This slim book offers 30, mainly circular, walks, from three to 15 miles, in this magnificent area east of the Lake District. The walks are well described and illustrated, with good maps.
Follow some of the walks in this guide and you won’t be disappointed.
Surrounded on three sides by recognised and protected areas of natural beauty, the Eden Valley is a gem overlooked by many walkers. To the west the Lake District draws the crowds, to the south the Yorkshire Dales National Park encroaches on the upper Eden in the Westmorland Dales, and to the east the North Pennines AONB completes the near encirclement. A few walks in the book are in these areas: in between lies pure magic for walkers.
This guide meets the high standards set by Cicerone and Vivienne Crow has captured the walks of the Eden Valley beautifully. There is everything for the discerning walker from delightful family walks to isolated and demanding routes across isolated Pennine fells. The 30 walks described vary from the heights of Wild Boar Fell, on the western edge of the Mallerstang valley, to lowland itineraries, which include visits to stone henges, watermills, castles, limestone pavements, gorges and delightful riversides. The book is attractively laid out with concise text, photographs, OS map extracts and handy information boxes. There is a grading system for the walks, although its explanation is hidden away under the unlikely heading of GPX tracks.
The introduction is informative and includes a section on weather and in particular the Helm wind, the only named wind in the British Isles. This area is closer to the main population centres of Scotland than many areas of the highlands. Visit the Eden Valley and follow some of the walks in this guide and you won’t be disappointed. But don’t let too many people in on the secret.
David Monteith, Scottish Mountaineer magazine
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
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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