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Nine Standards
Nine Standards (poking up on the right) from the OS pillar. My pack leans against the pillar with my mascot (PW) attached. The view indicator is just visible on the left horizon and the dots on the middle horizon are a couple of other Coast to Coast walkers.
Kirkby Stephen
Danby Wiske
Ingleby Cross
Clay Bank
Lion Inn

A surprisingly easy ascent to Nine Standards Rigg (668 metres or 2171 feet) puts your boots squarely on the backbone of England - the Pennines. The wild character of the countryside is not broken until the slightly milder terrain around Keld is reached.

Kirkby Stephen Type Phone
Croglin Castle B&B 017683 71389
Jolly Farmers Guest House B&B 017683 71063
Kirkby Stephen YH 0870 770 5904
Lockholme B&B 017683 71321
Old Croft House B&B 017683 71638
The Old Coach House B&B 017683 71582
Pennine View Camping Park Camping 017683 71717
Redmayne House B&B 017683 71441

Depart Kirkby Stephen on a lane outside the church - this descends to a bridge (Frank's Bridge) across the River Eden. The river is followed upstream for a bit to a stone wall and path that take you up onto a road through the few houses at Hartley. The road climbs sharply, giving good views into the immense depths of Hartley Quarry. The fell lane collects stone walls to either side and continues to climb to the isolated Fell House farmhouse. Another 500 metres and the road comes to an end at a fork - the left branch of which takes us onto Hartley Fell through a gate. A broad track continues up to shadow a wall for a kilometre (crossing Faraday Gill which is named after a local family whose famous offspring, Micheal, was a pioneer in electricity). The wall is left as the track climbs past a ruined shelter-cairn to follow Rollison Gill. A pair of cairns on either side of the gill mark the beginning of an area of old coal pits and peat hags that the now thin path threads though to the Ordnance Survey column at the summit.

To the north, the Nine Standards array of robust beacons is easily reached with a view indicator sprouting just before them. The first thing to do is to count the tall (well over head-height) cairns - yes, there are nine of them, arranged in a rough SW to NE line. They are probably 'just' boundary markers but there is the more romantic notion of them being a "stone army" to scare away invaders. Even on a cloudy day, there is little excuse not to spend some time drinking in the views from this wonderful place. Further north looms the highest point of the Pennines, Cross Fell. South and east, there are the high hills of the Pennine Dales. To the west, a jagged horizon reveals the Lakeland mountains (remember them?).

The Coast to Coast Walk route heads south into a dip before White Mossy Hill. By now, the new route from this point should be waymarked and in use. This heads downhill on a broad grassy track and follows the course of a creek down to Whitsundale Beck. The path keeps above the beck and heads downstream to Raven Seat farm.

When I arrived the new route was obvious but not waymarked so I took the old route over White Mossy Hill and then to the boulders on Millstones. The erosion making the new route necessary was all too clear but with a few careful detours the going was not too boggy. Apparently the route is now changed season by season to spare the moorland as much as possible - but both routes are mucky. Millstones provided a nice dry seat for a look at the view. The path dropped nicely to a shooter's track and then to a shooter's hut. From the hut, a softer footpath lead down to Raven Seat.

Upper Kisdon Force
Upper Kisdon Force

Back on the proper Coast to Coast Walk trail, a gate on the right side of the farmyard gives access to the fields above Whitsundale Beck. Take a bit of care crossing the fields near the farm - some of the cattle are not cows (but these bulls seemed friendly enough when I passed though). The surprising bluffs of How Edge Scars and Oven Mouth across the beck make up for the many gates between Raven Seat and the River Swale at Low Bridge. The next set of bluffs (Cotterby Scar) are on this side of the river - the path quickly climbs to their top and traverses a number of small fields. We finally cross the river at Park Bridge where the road to Tan Hill snakes up to the left. Pause on the bridge to look upriver to the cute cascades of Wainwath Force.

Keld is about 500 metres walk left along the B6270 minor road. Its name is probably derived from 'kelda' (Norse for a spring). The Keld Lodge Youth Hostel is in the row of buildings on the main road with the few houses of the village nestled around a sloping square below. This old Norse settlement is the last (or first from our perspective) hamlet in Swaledale and gives a warm welcome to walkers on both the Coast to Coast Walk and the Pennine Way which meet here. There is no pub in the village but Butt House on East Stonedale farm (across the river) has a reputation as one of the most hospitable bed and breakfast places in the country and it is even licensed. Accommodation (and beer) for the fit walker is "only" another 4 kilometres uphill to Tan Hill Inn (the highest pub in England).

I choose to pitch my tent in the campground just upriver of the village and near Catrake Force, one of the many waterfalls in the area. In the evening, I strolled back past Keld and along the river to take a look at the Kisdon Force waterfalls - good sized torrents of brown, peaty water dropping over 2-3 metre shelves of rock in a pretty tree-lined gorge. I then continued down the river in fields below Kisdon Hill, circling around to meet the road below Thwaite village. This is a charming walk in its own right but has the added interest of ending up at a fine inn - dinner and a pint or 2 awaited me. I returned by completing the circuit around Kisdon Hill along the road to Keld.

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