Sunday, 12 August 2012

Nine Standards Rigg & Tailbridge Hill

Nine Standards Rigg & Tailbridge Hill

Circular from Kirkby Stephen - 10 miles

Waking to a beautiful blue sky punctuated by white fluffy clouds, today was an opportunity to visit an old friend and make acquaintance with a new one.
Hedgerow - viaduct walk

Coast to Coasters tend to leave Kirkby Stephen by way of the pretty market place and Frank's Bridge as they start walking to Nine Standards Rigg and the watershed. Our route followed a fingerpost in South Road across a couple of fields before entering Stenkrith park to join the Merrygill and Podgill viaduct walk. After crossing the second of viaducts, we came out onto the road that skirts Hartley quarry. 
Tarmac becomes track

As the road climbed, the views became more breathtaking. The Eden Valley, the Howgills, Mallerstang and the Northern Pennines. The metalled road became cobbled track up the bridleway on Hartley Fell. A beautiful, high-backed, wooden seat provided in memory of a man who clearly loved the spot, gave us the excuse to stop, take in the view and rehydrate. It was a warm day and we were going to need to drink plenty of water. We followed a wall until a fingerpost signalled a permissive path, which for a while followed the course of Faraday Gill. A runner, back pack swinging from side to side, passed us. It looked like hard work. 
Tailbridge Hill from our route up Nine Standards Rigg

The summit cairns came into view, disappeared and reappeared as we walked further up. A wooden bridge and some judiciously placed pieces of stone enabled passage over a boggy bit of the pathway. Some wooden steps had long since become redundant as the top soil had eroded from the many footsteps made by the unknown numbers who journey this way each year. Today was a dry day and the path up was relatively easy, but we were still very surprised to see a pink sparkly pair of flip flop sandals start their descent of the hill. The stuff of nightmares - the stubbed toes - the potential broken ankle - the broken leg - the callout to mountain rescue. You do wonder!
High Dukerdale from Hartley Fell

From the cairns, we made our way to the hillfinder before taking a bearing to a bridleway at Rollinson Haggs. As the name suggests, it was squelchy underfoot and there was some careful negotiation across vegetation that we knew to be bog lovers. A fairly quick descent took us across Rollinson Gill and down to a stone wall. From here we discovered the little gem of Dukerdale lit by the afternoon sunshine. We sat just a short while before taking a bearing to the summit cairn of Tailbridge Hill, our second objective. Although a path could be seen in the grass from our starting point, it may have petered out. It was a gentle up, and before very long we were standing next to quite a substantial cairn. 
Tailbridge Hill cairn

What we had not forseen was the view here on Nateby Common. It was wonderful. The village of Nateby, its neighbour, Kirkby Stephen and the hills that surround the Upper Eden Valley. A good place to finish the last of the coffee and drink in the surroundings.
Taking in the view from Tailbridge Hill

Carefully, we dropped down quite quickly to a stone wall. We followed it until we joined the minor Nateby road, coming full circle at Stenkrith Bridge. Looking down we saw where we had joined the viaduct walk earlier in the day.

Looking back towards Tailbridge Hill

From the familiar to the new - Tailbridge Hill had been a revelation. Earlier in the day we had shared our walking plans with a passing dog walker. 

'That will be a nice walk.'

Rather an understatement.


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