I’ll Follow The Sun

C2C – Day 8: Saturday 9 April – ORTON to KIRKBY STEPHEN (13 miles)

An unusual road-sign in Orton

I have been asked by more than a few folk to say something on the wildlife that we have seen on our C2C Walk. In truth, and perhaps because of the gusty winds, mist, rain, sleet, snow and hail that we walked through across the Lake District, there has been little to report! We have seen a couple of red squirrels – one darting across the track in Ennerdale and another, later, outside our guesthouse in Patterdale.

Bird-wise, things have changed today – we have seen soaring buzzards, a stonechat, skylarks darting upwards on our approach from their refuges in the grasslands, and a trio of lapwings putting on their springtime display of aerobatics. Just before arriving in Shap, two days ago, we also witnessed a courtship display by two white-throated dippers, flitting from rock to rock on Haweswater Beck. With the more settled weather forecast over the next few days I hope to have more wildlife to report on soon.

And as for our walk, what a glorious day of good company and favourable weather! We were joined, once more, by fellow C2C-walker John, and the three of us set out today from Orton into the sun, with the sky clear blue, the air cool, and the ground frosted. This section of walk, though still within Cumbria, falls within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, but is lower-lying and does not feature much in the C2C guidebook highlights. Personally though, I love the undulating pastures that are bounded by dry-stone walls matching the limestone outcrops, as well as the stretches of moorland that top these rolling hills.

Leaving beautiful Orton

Our first stop today was just outside of Orton, at the forty red-granite rocks of Gamelands stone circle, where we pondered on the daily life of the ancients, before skirting the southern slopes of Great Ashby Scar. Our route then took us past the RSPB reserve at Sunbiggin Tarn, before crossing Ravenstonedale Moor where we took a brief water stop.

Gamelands stone circle
A couple of new arrivals
A moody view of Sunbiggin Tarn
The two of us, up on Ravenstonedale Moor

From the moorland, we descended to cross the former railway line and then the stone bridge over Scandal Beck, before embarking upon the prolonged climb of Smardale Fell. Eventually, sheltered from the wind and with far-reaching views over the Pennines, we had a late picnic lunch, ahead of our wander down across pastures into Kirkby Stephen. This is the first of only two towns on the entire C2C route (the other being Richmond), giving us the opportunity of tea and cake, before checking into our guesthouse, the Old Croft House (dating from 1750).

The bridge over Scandal Beck, . . .
. . . looking towards Smardale Viaduct, . . .
. . . and, from Smardale Fell, a view to the north, of the snow-capped Pennine peak of Cross Fell
A well-earned tea and cake in Kirkby Stephen
At our guesthouse this evening we were welcomed by hosts and namesakes Rachel and Nick!

Tonight we found the much-acclaimed La’l Nook micro-pub for a couple of excellent local Hawkeshead ales, followed by a takeaway curry back at Old Croft House – many thanks to Rachel and Nick for facilitating our dinner!

Out on the town with John in Kirkby Stephen tonight, with the sun still shining, . . .
. . . and with locals Eileen, Chris & John, in La’l Nook – great to meet you all!

2 thoughts on “I’ll Follow The Sun

  1. Great to meet you both in the L’al Nook, Kirkby Stephen. Don’t tell too many people because it is an amazing pub and Shhhh it’s our secret 😊 Wishing you well on the rest of your C2C journey, hopefully you will have better weather after today. Of course we will be donating to your fundraising. Bestest of best wishes, Chris and John. 🚶🏻 🍻 🚶🏻 🍺 🍹

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  2. Glad you managed to find Gamelands stone circle! And the photos and descriptions of life along your route are wonderful.

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