Where we cross the Pennines, get lost and recover with tea and scones courtesy of the farmer’s wife!
Get ready for LOTS of photos.
It takes us three days to cross the Pennines. We leave the Lakes District of Cumbria behind us, cross the M6 and enter Yorkshire, in which we stay for the rest of the walk.
We overnight at Scar Side Farm just outside the little village of Orton, then the beautiful Georgian townhouse, Old Croft House, in Kirkby Stephen (pronounced Kirby Stephen) and finish up in the remote Pennines village of Keld at Keld House.
Orton is a short hop skip and jump, 8 miles, from Shap, so we amble through the gently rolling countryside, stopping to eat a sandwich at well-preserved lime kilns before wandering down narrow country lanes to find Scar Side Farm where we’re given a warm welcome by the owners. We’ve arrived in the early afternoon so spend several hours mooching around investigating the farm and chatting with other walking guests.
The farmer tells us their daughter is a navigator in the RAAF and she lets them know when she’ll be flying overhead — gives them the time to the second. He says it’s surreal as the plane streaks past at what seems like rooftop level and tips its wings to them.
Scar Side Farm is where we finally say ‘No more!’ to the cooked full English breakfasts and ask for something lighter and healthier!
The next morning we get lost within minutes of leaving the farm and roam the nearby roads like lost souls until a passing farmer on a tractor stops and points the way. It’s a non-existent path across the fields. So we slap our foreheads for being so silly as to not see it and put a spurt on to make up the time.
We admire a lovely little bridge across Scandal Beck, admire again the Smardale Gill viaduct in the distance as we walk, climb to the crest of Smardale Fell and spy on the distant ridge line Nine Standards Rig, ancient standing stones we had no idea existed, and which lie beyond our next overnight stay, Kirkby Stephen.
This is a lovely little town well worth spending a couple of nights exploring but we have to make do with one. There are several pubs and we’re fortunate to have The Black Bull within a couple of steps of where we’re staying, so make that our watering hole for the evening, eating al fresco in the rear garden to enjoy the long English twilight.
The next day we cross into Yorkshire and arrive at the halfway point of our walk. We begin the gradual climb into the Pennines where we have to make the choice of three routes to take. The choice depends entirely on the weather so, it being sunny, warm and clear we decide on the high blue route so we can get up close and personal to the Nine Standards.
We find it astounding we’re allowed to get anywhere near them. Theories abound about who built them and why but no-one actually knows. Locals told us their purpose could have been as sentinels to guard against invaders. As likely a theory as any. We tarry for a while to eat our lunch of strawberries and grapes. We’re high at this point and can see surrounding countryside all around us. It’s a beautiful spot in which to linger to regain breath and energy.
As we continue the downhill path — passing along the way a C2C signpost that you normally can’t get anywhere near because of boggy ground and a very picturesque and very isolated farm — our thoughts turn to the next farm we will be passing through. Ravenseat Farm.
And why do we give it any thought? Because we’ve been told the farmer’s wife provides scrumptious scones and tea at a very reasonable price for anyone wishing to stop by. And we wish to stop by!
However, and it’s a big however, she has just had her eighth child — two days before — and reports aren’t in as to whether she’s open for business.
We find that she is! Thank goodness! The scones were worth the anticipation.
From there it’s just over an hour to Keld, our stop for the night. Once in the heart of the lead-mining industry, today it’s a tiny hillside village whose claim to fame is that it’s here the Coast to Coast walk intersects the longer, north-southbound, Pennine Way walk.
Keld Lodge sits a little apart and above the village. To our joy it has a large drying room in which we put our wet clothes and boots. It’s warm, so we know things will be dry for the morning.
And before I sign off for this post I’ll mention the notice we found in our room. No dogs to be washed in the shower! Our immediate thought is, ‘Dogs are allowed in the rooms?!’ Following hard on that one is, ‘If they’re allowed in the rooms then odds on they’re allowed on the beds!’ Thank heavens we carry our pillows with us!!
Next week a farm stay we don’t want to leave!