The Only Way Is Up

C2C – Day 9: Sunday 10 April – KIRKBY STEPHEN to KELD (12 miles)

Crossing into wonderful Yorkshire!

Today has certainly been the day of landmarks on our C2C Walk! Quite aside from leaving Cumbria and entering Yorkshire, we have also crossed the watershed of the Pennines, the backbone of England! And indeed, this afternoon, we passed the 100-mile post, and we have reached the half-way point of our walk! Just to top it all, we have had an invigorating day of sunshine, good company and wonderful scenery.

We had said goodbye to John over breakfast this morning. I should have mentioned beforehand that John lives just a few miles from me in West Hertfordshire. John – it was super to have your company these last few days, and let’s meet up soon for a Chiltern walk!

But, hot on the heels of a parting of the ways, came an introduction to Rob’s friend Eric, who joined us early at Kirkby Stephen for today’s walk!
A reminder of all that we still have to do!

It seemed that we spent the whole of the morning climbing! Leaving behind the town, we walked the short distance to Hartley village, then steeply up a minor road through grazing pastures to extensive moorland overlooking the Vale of Eden. For the next two hours we had glorious views westwards, over dozens of miles, to our Lakeland peaks of previous days, and behind us, northwards, for a while, to the foothills and the white summits of the northern Pennines. Eventually we crested a rise, and scaling Hartley Fell these vistas were lost to us for good.

Looking back down the lane, towards Cross Fell in the far distance
Crossing the tops, . . .
. . . and a last glimpse to the north-west, back down, through a gulley
For the purposes of erosion mitigation, and for the management of the grouse moors, the C2C route through the fells divides three ways, dependent on season. Our mandated option involved a descent to the single-track B6270 Pennine crossing that we followed for a couple of miles

Our path took us on a boggy and energy-sapping rise beneath the stones of Nine Standards Rigg to a col of around 600 metres, before crossing Birkdale Common into Yorkshire. Time for lunch now, we found a sheltered moorland spot, the first we had taken in relative warmth, with the sun upon us and with the views of the grouse moors. Sat here, a passing conversation with the president of the Yorkshire Ramblers reassured us that we had chosen the right route for the current season!

Our afternoon descent took us past Ravenseat, the home of The Yorkshire Shepherdess, . . .
. . . and down a tributary beck, to the upper reaches of the River Swale, . . .
. . . cascading over layers of limestone
A lime kiln in the Swale valley
We shared a welcome cuppa at Keld with Eric and his wife Angie, before saying our goodbyes – a super day’s walk, and great to meet you both!

Just finally a moment’s reminisce. Keld is my crossroads, where the C2C path crosses the mid-point of my LETJOG walk of last summer. Over the years I have stayed here and have been through this village, on foot, on a number of other occasions too, including my Pennine Way trek four years ago, and on our four-day family circuit of the Herriot Way in 2004. Right at the moment I can’t think of anywhere in the UK where I would prefer to walk, and I relish the prospect of tomorrow’s Swaledale ramble.

The upper Swale valley, where the Pennine Way crosses our C2C path

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