VISIT the pretty village of Hartley, walk across an impressive railway viaduct and enjoy panoramic views from grassy paths, writes JOHN EDMONDSON. This walk offers variety and plenty of interest.

Start from the free car park in Kirkby Stephen, grid reference NY 772 088, postcode CA17 4HA.


Distance: 9 miles with 1,200 feet of ascent

Time: 5 hours

Terrain: grass and woodland paths, quiet roads.

Maps: OS Explorer OL19


1From the rear of the car park turn left. Walk by the cattle mart, across the A685, and beside Market Square. Follow the path and passage down to cross Frank’s Bridge. Turn left then half right onto the path signed Coffin Bridge. Walk along the grassy path past caged trees. Turn right onto the road and walk through the pretty village of Hartley, with a roadside beck on the right. Where the road bends left after speed delimiter signs keep straight on then rejoin the uphill road and turn right. Just before a left bend turn right onto the Northern Viaduct Trust railway path.

2 Walk over Podgill Viaduct (after optionally visiting the viewing area down 45 steps). At the next bridge (number 140) leave the railway path to the right and turn right to cross the bridge onto a field path leading to an enclosed track. Continue ahead, go through a stile then a gate on the left and left down steep stone steps. Follow the woodland path to the right around Ewbank Scar, negotiating fallen trees where the path has been damaged by landslip. Ascend steps on the left, cross a footbridge and after a gate/stile turn left along the side of a field going uphill past a waymarker. Descend to the valley, go around the base of Birkett Hill, through a gap stile and continue along the line of Ladthwaite Beck on the left. Cross the beck via a wide concrete bridge then keep right onto the path signed B6270 (Nateby or Keld).

3 Walk past Ladthwaite farmhouse to join a grassy track that goes behind it. Go through gate, across a fallen wall then uphill past posts. After passing a muddy pond veer right to ascend the foothill then keep left on the higher ground towards Nateby. Descend and turn right onto the road to Nateby. Opposite the first buildings turn left onto the path signed Bells. Walk along a holloway (sunken lane) then ahead through a wicket gate and gap stile and alongside a wall on the right. Go through a gated stile on the right to the B6259. Turn left and after a quarter of a mile turn right onto the bridleway signed Wharton. After crossing a bridge turn right to keep on the concrete lane.

4 Follow the footpath bypassing Wharton Hall to the left then cross the concrete lane onto the path signed Stenkrith. After crossing three fence stiles aim to the top of woods on the right of the small hill. Go over a stile in the field corner and left over a wall stile. Walk beside the River Eden on the right to Stenkrith Bridge. Turn left onto the road for 50 yards then sharp right to cross the footbridge below the Bridge. Follow the railway path to the left and go up a ramp on the left just before Bridge 140 (passed on the way out). Go through the gate and walk alongside a wall on the right. Turn right through a stile/gate and follow the footpath over a footbridge, across a field to Frank’s Bridge then head back to the start.

Next week: coast and canal walk at Bolton-le-Sands

NB: restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.