The Eden Viaducts Walk.

Start. Kirkby Stephen.

Route. Kirkby Stephen - Frank's Bridge - Ladthwaite Beck - Stainmore railway - Stenkrith Bridge - Stainmore railway - Podgill Viaduct - Merrygill Viaduct - Hartley - Frank's Bridge - Lowmill - Kirkby Stephen.

Notes. The weather was fairly grim in the north west corner of England today, low cloud and persistent drizzle. Our original destination was to be Littondale west of Wharfedale, a wander through pre-history before exploring our Saxon heritage, not fancying a long drive followed by a walk in the rain, we made the short drive to Sedbergh instead. Sue's never set foot on the Howgill Fells before, unfortunately the weather was considerably worse, what was the point escorting a Howgill virgin into the hills in these conditions. The short drive to Kirkby Stephen followed, all thoughts of a days ramblings washed away with the rain. Then it happened, Sue spotted a twelve inch long luminous green centipede in a newsagents window, the vulgar beast had googly eyes and lots of yellow legs, our grandson Jack's into creepy crawlies if you were wondering. Whilst wandering around the shop she spotted a rather thin booklet, Eight easy walks in the Kirkby Stephen district, two pounds lighter saw her planning the days walking. If you came across us today I was the guy with the vulgar beast dangling from my bag, I guess it beats a cuddly toy.

To the affairs of the day, a short walk along river bank paths, through ancient woodland returning along a section of the Stainmore railway. Our afternoon started in Market Square, in front of The Cloisters a narrow lane leads down to Frank's Bridge, we crossed this ancient coffin bridge before wandering along the banks of the River Eden. After passing through a metal kissing gate we turned right to continue following the river, the next gate allowed access to a wonderful shady dell, with low sandstone cliffs and a crystal clear stream, a wooden footbridge spanned the stream which we crossed to follow an ancient bridleway through Mell Wood before being squeezed between hedgerows. After fording another stream we stepped onto the track bed of the disused Stainmore railway. A short walk west saw us standing on Stenkrith Millennium Bridge, not quite the route in the booklet but it got us there eventually. Re-tracing our steps east we continued along the track bed, soon passing over Pod Gill and Merrygill Viaducts before the line terminated at Hartley Quarry, we descended the road to reach Hartley, a delightful little backwater. A short walk through fields followed before reaching Frank's Bridge for the second time, in a bid to explore a little more of Kirkby Stephen we continued following the river, passing the cricket pavilion, then on to Lowmill, from here we wandered back through narrow alleyways and ginnels discovering some delightful hidden corners of this ancient market town.

Something that occurred to me, far better to walk this route in winter when the trees are naked, or maybe autumn to capture the wonderful golden hues of that time of year, in summer I expect the views will be obscured by foliage for much of the route.

view route map.


Here's something to brighten up a grey day, Macaws fly free in these parts, believed to have escaped or been set loose from the John Strutt Conservation Foundation, come on residents and councillors of Kirkby Stephen, I never saw any mention of them anywhere, I know there's a lot more, use them as a marketing ploy to pull in the crowds.

Frank's Bridge an old coffin bridge, the large stone to the right gives the game away, it's a casket rest.

Striding along the banks of the River Eden.

Our first crossing of Ladthwaite Beck, our second crossing will be a lot higher.

Moss clings to rotting wood on the edge of this ancient track that's guiding us to Stainmore railway.

Hartley Lane our companion for the next half mile.

A small unnamed stream tumbles towards the River Eden.

Seen across green pastures the North Pennines.

Viewing the Dales village of Nateby.

The wonderful water sculptured gorge spanned by Stenkrith Bridge.

The River Eden seen from the Millennium Bridge.

The award winning Stenkrith Millennium Bridge designed by local engineer Charles Blackett-Ord, this galvanized steel and concrete bridge opened in 2002, I think it fits perfect into the scenery.

Views from Podgill Viaduct.

The dizzy heights of Podgill Viaduct.

Sue strides out across the viaduct, eager to get to the viewing platform on the other side.

I believe Sir Thomas Bouch designed this line, we met him on our walk over Latrigg the other week, for all you viaduct buffs out there, the eleven arches of Podgill Viaduct span the 466ft gorge cut by Ladthwaite Beck, constructed of locally quarried limestone each arch has a thirty foot span with a maximum height of 84ft.

Two for the price of one, originally only 12ft wide, the viaduct was widened around 1891 doubling the amount of traffic using the line.

Fording Hartley Beck.

A quaint corner of Kirkby Stephen.

Those steps lead to even more quiet corners and.....

.....St Stephens Parish Church, known locally as the Cathedral of the Dales, originally a saxon kirk stood on this land, replaced in 1170 by a Norman church, the present building dates back to 1240, history lesson and walk over we're heading for a late lunch.

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