Long distance paths
Many walkers find Kirkby Stephen and the Upper Eden Valley for the first time on a Long Distance Trail and return once they have discovered this peaceful countryside with so much to offer the walker.
Our most popular trail is the Coast to Coast. Devised by Alfred Wainwright, this is 192/220 miles long in a minimum of 12 stages from St. Bees, on the west coast Irish Sea, to Robin Hood’s Bay, on the eastern North Sea. The Coast to Coast uses permissive paths and Rights of Way and is mainly unmarked, passing through three National Parks.
Many visitors start at Kirkby Stephen by train or parking their cars and travel out to St. Bees using one of the baggage handlers, break at Kirkby Stephen for a day or two half way and return from Robin Hood’s Bay at the end of their walk, fitting nicely into a two week holiday. There are several guide books available and we recommend you also buy a selection of OS maps to cover your journey. The baggage handler services allow you to walk lighter and there are seasonal routes to avoid footpath erosion and the more boggy ground.
Probably the next most popular is The Lady Anne’s Way. This 100 mile walk is named after Lady Anne Clifford, a 17th century woman of some character and standing who repeatedly travelled between her castles of Skipton, Pendragon, Brough and Brougham which she renovated. The route is devised for six days and Kirkby Stephen is the finish point on day four. There are alternative 9 day stages. Amusingly, you may be interested to learn that Lady Anne usually travelled with her bed and a window for her bedroom. A baggage handling service is available. www.ladyannesway.co.uk
One of our newest walks is A Pennine Journey devised by David and Heather Pitt based on Alfred Wainwright’s 1938 Pennine Journey. A guide book, with a detailed route description, large scale route maps and illustrations, was published by Frances Lincoln in 2010 following work by members of the Wainwright Society. The walk is a circular one from Settle to Hadrian’s Wall and back with its 247 miles being divided into 18 stages - Kirkby Stephen is on day 14 of the return journey going south. A Pennine Journey Supporters Club has been formed with the object of promoting and supporting the route and funds have been raised to have it waymarked. More information is available on the project’s website: www.penninejourney.org.uk
Also by David & Heather Pitt, is a new 76-mile long-distance walk from Kirkby Stephen to Settle, the Howgill and Limestone Trail. The pictorial guide follows a route through a picturesque and, in parts, demanding area of Cumbria and North Yorkshire – with a short diversion into Lancashire. It can be used in conjunction with Wainwright’s Walks in Limestone Country and Walks in the Howgill Fells. The route has strong associations with railways. It passes over the spectacular Smardale Gill viaduct, and close to the Stainmore Railway, the disused Ingleton and Tebay Railway, and the Settle–Carlisle railway.
Walkers are Welcome neighbours in North Yorkshire, Boroughbridge and the Lower Ure Valley Walkers are Welcome and Richmond Walking and Book Festival group are reviving the Swale Way, which takes a 77 mile route from Boroughbridge via Richmond to Kirkby Stephen following the River Swale. Their new website details the route: www.swaleway.org.uk
The Dales High Way published by Tony and Chris Grogan is an exhilarating 90 mile route across the Yorkshire Dales and into old Westmorland, from the industrial heritage of Saltaire to our neighbours in Appleby, the old county town of Westmorland. The route passes through Newbiggin-on-Lune village close by Kirkby Stephen and is now featured on OS maps. www.daleshighway.co.uk
There are four other Long Distance Trails that pass through Kirkby Stephen, the Westmorland Heritage Walk, Yorkshire Dale Centurion Walk, Yoredale Way and The Eden Way.
Many of these trails are, of course, suitable for breaking down into smaller sections to suit the time available or a weekend challenge. This is especially true of the Settle to Carlisle Way which follows the famous railway, and can be done on a day by day basis,
Skyware publishes a number of guidebooks on long distance routes in the north of England, including the Coast to Coast, Lady Anne's Way, A Dales High Way and The Six Peaks Way. Information and videos from the routes are on the Skyware website.