Kirkby Stephen to Shap
Over half way now and approaching the Lakes, I’ve had three short-ish days, but today’s leg into Shap is just shy of 20 miles and has a great mix of stunning scenery including huge tracts of….. open moorland and some splendid limestone pavement.
I leave KS on the traditional AW route, dropping down to Smardale Bridge, where I deviate slightly. AW’s route cuts back north east and then north west, swinging around Begin Hill and across Ewefell Mire. I intend to head south west and then due west from Smardale Bridge, passing Brownber and then using the road to rejoin with the traditional route as it crosses Ravonstonedale Moor – reaching the road about 1/2 mile south west of Sunbiggin Tarn. Here I will hopefully have a chance to meet the writer of one of the walking journals I host over on Walking Places, Brian, the Benwick Rambler. He’s doing his first C2C crossing, in the more usual direction of course and we should pass at approximately 11am at around Sunbiggin Tarn.
After a natter with Brian I’ll be leaving the traditional route, to try and use the route AW first suggested when he published the walk back in 1972. From the tarn, rather than head west past Sunbiggin Farm, I’ll be heading north, past Great Kinmond, up to the limestone pavement of Great Asby Scar. I keep north until just before the junction of bridleways. At NY 668097 I turn left, beside the wall initially, but then heading straight for Castle Folds, the remains of an ancient settlement. From there I head north west and then west, past the Victoria Jubilee monument (at NY 636100) and down to the road.
Victoria Jubilee monument
AW tried to include this in his original route, even though he knew it to be private land. He assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that the landowner wouldn’t mind the occasional rambler crossing his land. The farmer was rather annoyed, especially as the number of people increased and a few months after publication AW began to get letters complaining of the intrusions. The farmer even placed a bull in the field to deter walkers and finally AW had to amend the route. The alternative was to use the roads and field paths to the south of the limestone pavement – a much poorer alternative.
Even Chris Jesty’s 2010 revision of the AW route doesn’t include the high route as a possibility. Even though it is now all open access and perfectly legitimate to use, Jesty still suggests the road route through the farms. He is concerned that there is a wall to cross, but I’ve walked here before and it can be done without climbing any walls. The map below shows the route I’m using; the little flags show the position of gates or stiles that make access possible.
High level route over Great Asby Scar
From the road in the far left hand edge of the map above, I head west, back on the traditional AW route, at least as far as the wall corner at NY 608108, there I continue directly west, passing the King Charles monument at Black Dub as far as the trig point on the edge of the fell, overlooking the M6. Then it’s north again to Oddendale and the AW route through the quarry and into Shap.