white horse logo

Smardale Gill viaduct on the old Stainmore railway
Smardale Gill viaduct on the old Stainmore railway

Menu:

National Parks

| 2001 walks | 2002 walks | 2003 walks | 2004 walks |
| 2005 walks | 2006 walks | 2007 walks | 2008 walks |
| 2009 walks | 2010 walks | 2011 walks | 2012 walks |
| 2013 walks | 2014 walks | 2015 walks | 2016 walks |
| 2017 walks | 1993-2000 library | Find a Route |
| A few Routes to print out | Request a Route... |

Route No. 354 - Tuesday 3 August 2010
Kirkby Stephen, Hartley, Smardale Bridge,
Stainmoor Railway circuit - 17km
Eden Valley, Cumbria . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL19 Howgill Fells and Upper Eden valley at 1:25000

Note: This route was kindly provided by Ray Brown of Northallerton and I'm grateful for his contribution.
I have not walked this route myself although I hope to before too long- Frank
A charity called The Northern Viaduct Trust maintain the viaducts on the Stainmoor Railway


Podgill Viaduct on the old Stainmore railway
Podgill Viaduct on the old Stainmore railway

Merrygill viaduct on the Stainmore railway
Merrygill viaduct on the Stainmore railway

 

It is a steep climb and a path on the right allowed us to stay off to the road for a while. Soon the Stainmore line was reached and we turned right to cross over the Merrygill viaduct, followed shortly by the Podgill viaduct. The path is excellent along this section of the old railway bed and some items of the Poetry Path can be seen as inscriptions in stone. We exited the rail route by crossing the Millennium Bridge to Station Road which led to the A685 where we turned left to pass over the old rail route and continue (with care - traffic!) to the right of way on the right. This led to a footbridge over the line where some ancient rolling stock is parked. The right of way ends at a track that leads to Greenriggs farm by turning left.

Today we took a couple of gambles to attempt a walk which I had been considering for a while. First we trusted the weather forecast and second we assumed that a footpath would run all or most of the length of the old Stainmore line from Smardale Bridge. The focus of my interest was the 3 restored viaducts (Smardale Gill, Podgill and Merrygill) on the late-lamented Stainmore line, with the bonus of the Smardale viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle line. We left the south end of the free car park in Kirkby Stephen, map ref. NY772087, by turning left down a path towards the town centre, crossing Faraday Road and through the alleyway to Market Street and onwards down Stoneshot to cross Frank's Bridge. There we took the right path along the R. Eden and climbed up a narrow tarmac path to join Hartley Lane which led into Hartley where we turned left and then hard right to join the road leading to Hartley quarry.

 

Verse on the Kirkby Stephen Poetry Path
Verse on the Kirkby Stephen Poetry Path

Smardale Bridge
Smardale Bridge

Smardale Fell above Smardale Bridge
Smardale Fell above Smardale Bridge

Smardale Lime Kilns & Nature trail
Smardale Lime Kilns & Nature trail

Here I glimpsed a redstart before we passed under the impressive Smardale viaduct on the Settle-to-Carlisle line. At Smardale we briefly had to leave the railway track bed for the parallel road but were able to resume it at map ref. NY743083.

At the farm the Coast-to-Coast path is picked up and is followed over Smardale Fell for the next 3 miles to beyond Smardale Bridge . At map ref. NY722062 we finally left the C-to-C to join the Stainmore line with ancient lime kilns, the awesome Smardale Gill viaduct and a wildlife reserve with a profusion of butterflies, particularly the Scotch Argus.

Smardale Gill
Smardale Gill National Nature Reserve

Scotch Argus butterfly at Smardale Gill
Scotch Argus butterfly at Smardale Gill

Smardale Gill viaduct on the old Stainmore railway
Smardale Gill viaduct on the old Stainmore railway
Smardale viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle railway
Smardale viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle railway
The path was now narrow and unsurfaced and its permissive status was scheduled to run out in September 2009! However we were able to use it for over a mile until we reached the Waitby-Greenriggs Nature Reserve which can be visited but offers no through route. So at map ref. NY757086 immediately after passing under a road bridge we climbed some steps on our right to access the road where we turned right. In about 200 metres the road passes over the route of the old Eden valley branch line and at the z-bend we squeezed through a stile on to a right of way which led to a second stile after 30 metres. Once in the field we aimed just to the right of the cream-painted farmhouse ahead. On passing through a gate we turned right to follow the line of poles supplying power to the farm. These led us to a gate into Tarn Lane which led back towards Kirkby Stephen. We took about 6 and a half hours including lunch, photo stops and an exploratory diversion to the Waitby Greenriggs Nature Reserve.
Ray Brown
Waitby Greenriggs Nature Reserve
Waitby Greenriggs Nature Reserve
Waitby Greenriggs Nature Reserve
Waitby Greenriggs Nature Reserve