|Shap to Kirkby Stephen (32 km)|
Wast Water - Wander
Wast Water - Scafells
Patterdale - Helvellyn
Over Orton to the Howgill Fells
This is comfortably the longest section of the walk (on my version of the Coast to Coast Walk) - luckily the ups and downs are not too severe. There is the option to break this long day at the one and only village encountered during the day - Orton. The crossing of this high limestone plateau offers good views back to the Lake District hills and forward to the Pennines with the rolling Howgill Fells to the south. This may also be the most historic section of the Coast to Coast Walk, passing several prehistoric stone circles, a prehistoric village site, a Roman road and the much more modern remains of a railway line.
|Crown Inn||Pub, bunkhouse & camping||01931 716229|
|Fell House||B&B||01931 716343|
|Greyhound Hotel||Hotel||01931 716474|
|New Ing Farm||B&B||01931 716661|
An early start takes you through the suburbia in Moss Grove, quickly left behind for a track that crosses a bridge over the West Coast Main Railway Line and then takes field paths to the first blemish of the day - the M6 motorway. The footbridge is quickly crossed and the thin path traverses up through boulders and hawthorn to the isolated house of The Nab. An active limestone quarry ahead forms the second and last blemish of the day. Cross the quarry road cautiously and take a dusty road down towards Oddendale - a secluded farming hamlet, well hidden in its trees. You now have 30 kilometres of glorious countryside in front of you.
The entrance to Oddendale is crossed and the Coast to Coast Walk takes a broad track leading up into the grassy moor. The Oddendale Stone Circle is a little off the track (about 50 metres to your left when abreast of a small enclosure on the track's right). The distinctive Shap granite boulders are not that impressive until you realise that they must have been hauled from quite a distance. Beyond the circle, the track runs further south to a large enclosed wood and then onto Crosby Ravensworth Fell. The track turns east again and climbs slightly to cross over the course of a Roman road. A descent through the bare bones of the plateau (a small patch of limestone pavement) brings you to Lyvennet Beck. Upstream (or rather up-trickle since there is not much water), there is a glimpse of a monument at Black Dub recording the spot where King Charles II "regaled his army and drank of the water on his march from Scotland, August 8 1651".
The trail rises from the beck up to a wall-corner and the wall is followed past a small valley containing a beck. The next valley is dry - the large cairn up this valley marks a spot known as Robin Hood's Grave. The wall soon heads downhill towards Crosby Ravensworth but the path continues over the brow of the hill and to a minor moorland road. Don't follow the road, but cross it to a thin path arcing around a small plantation along a dry valley. This meets the junction of the moorland road and the B6260 road to Appleby in a kilometre of pleasant walking. There is a good view from here (Orton Scar) across the patchwork of fields to the Howgill Fells.
|Orton & Raisbeck||Type||Phone|
|Barn House||B&B||015396 24259|
|George Hotel||Pub & camping||015396 24229|
|The Old Barn||B&B||015396 24374|
|New House Farm||B&B & camping||015396 24324|
The trail actually follows the road down into Orton - the quickest way but crowded with traffic from the Appleby area joining the motorway at Tebay. However there is a nice bridleway departing the route just after the junction. This takes you through fields to pass on the right of Broadfell Farm and follows a stream into a quiet corner of the village. The village is a good spot for a lunch stop (pub and Post Office) with 13 kilometres (8 miles) covered from Shap.
The Coast to Coast Walk leaves the village on the road past the church
(up on its knoll) and the inn. The road can be followed all the way to
Sunbiggin Tarn (not too much traffic) but there are a couple of options that
should be considered.
If you are really into stiles then you can depart the village on a side-lane (before the inn) and cross over fields via a total of 8 stiles to rejoin the main route about halfway to Raisbeck.
From the main route, you can wander up Knott Lane for a closer look at the Gamelands Stone Circle (an impressive 40 metres or 130 feet in diameter with many surviving shapely stones of Shap granite). You can either return to the main route or take a part of the proposed Pennine Bridleway through fields (and 10 gates) to Sunbiggin Lane.
A recommended detour (which I took) is to turn up Sunbiggin Lane just as Raisbeck is reached. The farming hamlet of Sunbiggin is passed in a couple of kilometres and a green lane emerges onto Tarn Moor and a heathery track down to the tarn.
After the Lake District, Sunbiggin Tarn is a tiny bit of water but still has a good deal of character. Wind your way across the marshy head of the tarn (shooing sheep away at each step) to a ladder-stile at the end of a stone wall. The "main" path goes down to two huts on the tarn shore - a nice alternative for a late lunch or early afternoon break. However, the Coast to Coast Walk branches off the path on a thin trod through a grassy patch and then the heather up to some limestone outcrops. The distinct path rises onto a brow through the heather and then dips down to acquire the path from the huts. A now broad path rises to Rayseat Pike which is the site of a long barrow or burial mound- actually 150 metres long. A collection of limestone rocks tops the ancient mound. The path continues to rise to a moor road where a short-cut to the village of Newbiggin-on-Lune is available to the left. This height gives a good panorama of the Pennines ahead.
The path descends into Ewefell Mire (not as wet as the name suggests) and then skirts the side of Great Ewe Fell above Bents Farm whose offer of B&B is handy if you can't go any further. Past the farm, the path crosses under Crosby Garret Fell and then drops through a gate and over a stile to skirt past the Severals village settlement. This is one of the many prehistoric field systems that make the area an archaeologists dream. The most notable features around Severals are a long earthwork on the brow of the slope and the maze of grassy mounds on the village site. These show up best in aerial photos or when looking back from the next hill.
The trail hugs the wall as it descends to a couple of derelict railway cottages and then it crosses the slopes to a gate onto a bridge over the old railway line. Over the bridge, a well trodden path goes down to the Smardale Bridge. The walls on the bridge provide convenient seats to survey the peaceful surroundings of Smardale's Scandal Beck and ease your aching feet. Continue over the bridge where a superb old road scales steep slopes between stone walls (the last climb of the day!). The wide open spaces of Smardale Fell are quickly crossed past a lime kiln before an easy descent down Limekiln Hill passes 2 more lime kilns. Lime kilns were used to cook limestone so that the lime could be used as fertiliser. On the descent, take a moment to look over to the Pennines with the nine "men" on Nine Standards Rigg clearly visible.
A country lane is gained via a stile and then abandoned around a corner for a path across a large field to an underpass beneath the Settle-Carlisle Railway Line. This line is one of the most scenic in England - well worth the journey when not on the Coast to Coast Walk. Just by the underpass and not quite destroyed by the railway embankment, the rectangular earthworks surrounding the Waitby village settlement are obvious. More fields take you to a double underpass under a former railway and the yard of Green Riggs Farm. The Coast to Coast Walk goes through two gates on the right and joins a farm road all the way to Kirby Stephen. The flat summit of Croglam Castle is passed on your right with a stile giving access to the ditch and rampart on top. This is thought to be the remains of an Iron Age Brigante tribes hillfort.
Kirby Stephen is entered on an plain back lane whose best feature is the avoidance of the parallel main road. The back of the Pennine Hotel offers an alleyway into the town centre opposite the Market Place - where the Coast to Coast Walk leaves the town. If you are heading for the youth hostel (as I was) then it is back along the main road by about 100 metres.