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Waitby Greenriggs nature reserve in a cutting on the disused Eden Valley branch line
Waitby Greenriggs nature reserve in a cutting on the disused Eden Valley branch line

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Route No. 510 - Thursday 4 July 2013
Kirkby Stephen, River Eden, Greenriggs,
Waitby, Nature Reserve circuit - 10km
Eden Valley, Cumbria . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL19 Howgill Fells and Upper Eden Valley


Leaving the car park on the path to the town centre
Leaving the car park on the path to the town centre

The path passes through an alley way to the town centre<
The path passes through an alley way to the town centre

From the end of car park furthest from the road we followed a pedestrian alleyway down the side of the auction mart, across Faraday Road and then between the buildings to emerge through an archway dated 1636 into Market Street. It was still raining and quite blustery so we decided to give the rain a chance to die away a bit by having a coffee at a cafe in Market Street before continuing our walk.

This morning my friend, Jim, and I drove to Kirkby Stephen in Cumbria. It's a little over an hour's drive but the countryside is well worth th effort. We parked at the large free car park at map ref. NY772088, off the road called 'Christian Head' between the firestation and Kirkby Stephen Grammar School. The weather forecast was for rain until around 11.00am and then gradually brightening through the rest of the day.

The path to the town centre past the auction mart
The path to the town centre past the auction mart

Red sandstone portico at the churchyard entrance
Red sandstone portico at the churchyard entrance

The Parish church at Kirkby Stephen
The Parish church at Kirkby Stephen

Heading for Frank's Bridge from the main street
Heading for Frank's Bridge from the main street

The signs led us along an alleyway, down some steps and out to the stone arch footbridge known as Frank's Bridge. It was still raining but now it was just fine drizzle that died away completely in the next half hour. We crossed Frank's Bridge with very pretty views along the River Eden.

About half an hour later we set off again opposite the alleyway that had brought us into Market Street. We walked along the road in front of an old red sandstone portico over the entrance to the churchyard and followed the green and white signs pointing the way to the River Eden and Frank's Bridge.

Heading for Frank's Bridge from the main street
Heading for Frank's Bridge from the main street

The approach to Frank's Bridge
The approach to Frank's Bridge

Frank's Bridge over the River Eden at Kirkby Stephen
Frank's Bridge over the River Eden at Kirkby Stephen

Footpath by the River Eden from Frank's Bridge
Footpath by the River Eden from Frank's Bridge

The River Eden from the path along the riverside
The River Eden from the path along the riverside

The River Eden from the path along the riverside
The River Eden from the path along the riverside

Here we turned off the gravel path and headed south along the river bank there is no discernible path and we just walked along the edge of the trees above the river. The river bent round to our left and we continued to follow it past a very large stone barn to a sharp right hand bend in the river.

Across the bridge we turned right to follow a gravel path heading east following the river upstream. After about 300m we came to an iron pedestrian gate into a large sheep pasture. The gravel path continued along the edge of this field but about 30m into the field there is a wooded finger post indicating a route off to the right heading south still following the river.

30m beyond this gate we turned right to follow the river
30m beyond this gate we turned right to follow the river

Path across the field - the river is to the right
Path across the field - the river is to the right

Large stone barn by the path
Large stone barn by the path

Footbridge over Pod Gill
Footbridge over Pod Gill

Bridleway to the east of the River Eden
Bridleway to the east of the River Eden

The 'February' stone on the 'Poetry Path'
The 'February' stone on the 'Poetry Path'

The upper poem reads, "Snow light peer at the byre door. Neither day nor night. Four months ago we fetched the cattle in, safe from reiving wind and rain, months of standing and shifting, burdened with patience. When will winter end?" This is the 'February' poem of twelve monthly poems around a route called the 'Poetry Path' from Stenkrith to Kirkby Stephen to Hartley and back. Apparently the idea is to illustrate the hill farmer's year in the landscape of the upper Eden Valley.

Here we joined a bridleway still generally following the river but now some distance to the east of it. After about 450m along the bridleway at map ref. NY777078 we turned sharp right off the bridleway to follow a public footpath down towards a footbridge over the River Eden. Along this path we came to some massive square stone blocks bedded on top of one another to for a short column. On the face of the column pointing away from us there were two poems inscribed.

Bridleway to the east of the River Eden
Bridleway to the east of the River Eden

Sharp right turn off the bridleway towards the River Eden
Sharp right turn off the bridleway towards the River Eden

The 'February' stone on the 'Poetry Path'
The 'February' stone on the 'Poetry Path'

The River Eden at the footbridge
The River Eden at the footbridge

Path heading for the footbridge over the River Eden
Path heading for the footbridge over the River Eden

Over the footbridge the path turned left
Over the footbridge the path turned left

Path along the riverside from the footbridge
Path along the riverside from the footbridge

We past a cheerful farmer checking his sheep and lambs and we soon came to a very rocky reach of the river.

We continued along the path to the footbridge and crossed the River Eden. Across the bridge the path turned left and we followed it along the river bank heading upstream.

Footbridge over the River Eden
Footbridge over the River Eden

Path along the riverside from the footbridge
Path along the riverside from the footbridge

Blue cranesbill or wild geranium by the path
Blue cranesbill or wild geranium by the path

The rocky course of the River Eden
The rocky course of the River Eden

The rocky course of the River Eden
The rocky course of the River Eden

Road bridge carrying the B6259 across the River Eden
Road bridge carrying the B6259 across the River Eden

Path back down to the riverside from the road bridge
Path back down to the riverside from the road bridge

The river is flowing through the rocks and tumbling down through the rocky chambers eroded when the river is in flood. We followed the path over the footbridge and up to the road bridge. We crossed the bridge and then turned left off the road to follow the path down to the riverside again. (There doesn't seem to be any way through under the road)

There were some lovely views along the river as it squeezed between the rocks. After about 700m from the footbridge over the river we came to the road bridge carrying the B6259 across the river. There's a footbridge next to the road bridge and below it and from the footbridge there's a striking view through the arch of the bridge.

The rocky course of the River Eden below the road bridge
The rocky course of the River Eden below the road bridge

Path on to the road bridge from the riverside
Path on to the road bridge from the riverside

Path along the riverside from the road bridge
Path along the riverside from the road bridge

Minor road at map ref. NY769070, next to Hallpenny House, where we turned right to head for the main road (A685)
Minor road at map ref. NY769070, next to Hallpenny House, where we turned right to head for the main road (A685)

Rocky river bed upstream of the road bridge
Rocky river bed upstream of the road bridge


Path across the fields to Hallpenny House


Path across the fields to Hallpenny House

A tethered pony by the road
A tethered pony by the road

We turned left and walked along the grass verge of the busy main road for about 150m to a track on the right.

We continued across the fields to a minor road at map ref. NY769070, next to Hallpenny House. Here we turned right and walked along the road, past the entrance to a small park and out to the main road (A685) at map ref. NY769074.


Path across the fields to Hallpenny House

A large ash tree by the path
A large ash tree by the path

Following the road from Hallpenny House
Following the road from Hallpenny House

Our turning to the right off the main road (A685)
Our turning to the right off the main road (A685)

The track from the A685
The track from the A685

Path crossing the railway bridge
Path crossing the railway bridge

There we saw lots of old rolling stock parked on the sidings waiting for restoration or scrapping. From the railway bridge we followed the path across the fields to a farm access road about 400m away at map ref. NY768078.

We followed a public footpath along the track for about 150m to an elaborate staircase stile over the wall on our right. We crossed the stile and walked along the edge of the field to the railway. where we crossed the railway bridge.

Elaborate staircase stile over the wall
Elaborate staircase stile over the wall

Access road to Greenriggs farm
Access road to Greenriggs farm

Looking east to the old Kirkby Stephen station where rollingstock is parked on a short stretch of remaining track
Looking east to the old Kirkby Stephen station where rolling stock is parked on a short stretch of remaining track

Access road to Greenriggs farm
Access road to Greenriggs farm

Leaving Greenriggs farm to cross the disused railway
Leaving Greenriggs farm to cross the disused railway

Path across the fields towards Waitby
Path across the fields towards Waitby

Here we were next to the Settle to Carlisle railway at map ref. NY754074. From there the path turned right to take us across a large field full of dairy cattle with a limousin bull, to the road near the village of Waitby at map ref. NY750078.

At the farm road we turned left to walk along the road towards Greenriggs farm. Just before we reached the farm we took a permissive path on our right over a stile to the far corner of the field by-passing the farm yard. The path led us round the farm and on to a path across the disused railway beyond the farm. We followed the path across the fields where cattle and sheep were grazing for about 1km.

Turning on to the path to bypass Greenriggs farm
Turning on to the path to bypass Greenriggs farm

Path crossing the disused railway
Path crossing the disused railway

limousin bull with a herd of dairy cattle
limousin bull with a herd of dairy cattle

Path across the fields towards Waitby
Path across the fields towards Waitby

Minor road bypassing Waitby village
Minor road bypassing Waitby village

Looking back to Waitby village across the fields
Looking back to Waitby village across the fields

To the left of the bridge are several embankments and then another cutting. The whole of this part of the line is the Waitby Greenriggs Nature Reserve managed by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

At the road we turned right and followed the road past Waitby for about 800m to a bridge over the disused railway line. The railway line is in a deep cutting to the right of the bridge.

A young calf by he road at Waitby
A young calf by he road at Waitby

Water aven on the roadside
Water aven on the roadside

Steps down the cutting into the Waitby Greenriggs nature reserve
Steps down the cutting into the Waitby Greenriggs nature reserve

Stile into the nature reserve from the railway bridge
Stile into the nature reserve from the railway bridge

Another lovely orchid
Another lovely orchid

Just enjoying the plants and insects in the nature reserve
Just enjoying the plants and insects in the nature reserve

Chimney Sweeper - a day flying moth
"Chimney Sweeper" - a day flying moth

By now the weather had improved from the morning drizzle to a warm sunny day. We spent a lovely half an hour wandering slowly along the railway and back. We returned up the steps to the road bridge and turned right to continue our walk along the road.

At the bridge we turned right off the road through a stile in the stone wall and then down some steps cut into the embankment of the cutting. Straight away there were common spotted orchids and a few northern marsh orchids. A beautiful common blue butterfly teased us but would not settle close enough for a photo.

The under-wing dots show this is a ringlet butterfly
The under-wing dots show this is a ringlet butterfly

One of many common spotted orchids
One of many common spotted orchids

Another lovely orchid
Another lovely orchid

Returning to the road from the nature reserve
Returning to the road from the nature reserve

A Ringlet butterfly - note the pattern of spots on the wings
A Ringlet butterfly - note the pattern of spots on the wings

Waitby Greenriggs nature reserve seen from the old railway bridge
Waitby Greenriggs nature reserve seen from the old railway bridge

Leaving the nature reserve
Leaving the nature reserve

Old stone squeeze stile
Old stone squeeze stile

Path across the fields back towards Kirkby Stephen
Path across the fields back towards Kirkby Stephen

We had turned on to a footpath that dropped down through some trees to the edge of the fields. We followed the path across the fields for about a kilometer to a grassy lane around the edge of the Kirkby Stephen Grammar School.

After about 250m the road turned sharp right and then after another 50m it turned sharp left. We turned right off the road on the crown of this second bend just past a stone barn.

Our right turn off the road just past a stone barn
Our right turn off the road just past a stone barn

Path from the road down to the fields
Path from the road down to the fields

Path across the fields back towards Kirkby Stephen
Path across the fields back towards Kirkby Stephen

Path across the fields approaching Kirkby Stephen Grammar School
Path across the fields approaching Kirkby Stephen Grammar School

Track back into Kirkby Stephen
Track back into Kirkby Stephen

Sheep pasture by the track
Sheep pasture by the track

Joining the road in Kirkby Stephen
Joining the road in Kirkby Stephen

The whole route had been 10km and it had taken us four and a half hours to walk including our visit to the nature reserve.

We followed this lane out to the road at map ref. NY771089. At the road we turned right and walked down the road past the school to the car park entrance and the end of our walk.

Track back into Kirkby Stephen
Track back into Kirkby Stephen

Track back into Kirkby Stephen
Track back into Kirkby Stephen

Heading back to the car park in Kirkby Stephen
Heading back to the car park in Kirkby Stephen

Back at the car park in Kirkby Stephen and the end of oue walk
Back at the car park in Kirkby Stephen and the end of our walk

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