Sunday, 11 November 2012

Railway & Riverside

Railway & Riverside - Kirkby Stephen

3.5 Miles

Today was the inaugural walk for my new boots.

With the prospect of a walk up Raise, in the Lake District National Park, to look forward to in the middle of the week, I decided that I should treat the boots (and my feet) to a short, flat walk. The previous ones had certainly walked some miles... two long distance footpaths and numerous day walks, but they had not had the best care and attention and it was starting to show.

From the market square in Kirkby Stephen, we walked south down the main street until we came to a public footpath sign at South Road. The boots seemed strange on the feet as they have a deeper sole - I appeared to have grown another inch. We turned through a gate and walked across a couple of grass fields, before coming to another clearly marked gate taking us through another field. A kissing gate gave us entry onto Nateby Road, where we turned right. After a little road walking, we turned into Stenkrith Park through a gate. (We were now on our favourite railway walk). We could hear that we were not far from the River Eden. We had had a day of rain yesterday, so we were curious to find out just how much water would be coming down the falls just underneath Stenkrith Bridge. The usual visible riverbed channels were submerged under the torrent of water. Quite a sight.

Stenkrith waterfall
 Onwards onto the actual disused railway we continued. It doesn't matter how many times we've walked this way, there's always something different. Many of the trees had shed their leaves, others were yellowing or browning. The way was carpeted for us in many hues. 

Person, or persons unknown had been along to coppice some of the trees since we'd last come this way. There was good visibility of Tailbridge Hill, but the hills of the Northern Pennines looked dark in the distance. I quietly (and briefly) tried out the acoustic under one of the bridges we passed under, and then it wasn't long before we had crossed both viaducts and joined the Hartley Road. So, a little bit of downhill. The boots held my feet well; they didn't slip far so good.

We took a little footpath off to the left to avoid a bit of the road before rejoining it at NY783085. 
FP avoiding the road
 This was Hartley. We stayed on the road, keeping the beck on our left until we came to NY783086. Here we crossed a small narrow footbridge. We turned left and then right (passing the parish noticeboard) into a narrow road serving just a couple of dwellings. We continued along the walled footpath to a small gate (now without its fastening) and continued on the hard surfaced path through a field, keeping the wall on our right. A kissing gate brought us beside the River Eden once more and the approach to Frank's Bridge. 

Rather than cross the river, we took the muddy, grass footpath at NY776087 through the cricket ground and over a footbridge to meet with the Hartley Road again.
Riverside FP
This was new territory. We walked north to Lowmill Bridge. Here, we took the riverside footpath on the eastern side of the river. In places the path came down to near river level, but hidden tree roots were the potential hazards for the unwary. The water was rushing along as if late... no time to stop.  
River Eden
No turgid, sluggish river here. The footpath brought us to another small footbridge over another gushing watercourse which joined the Eden on our left. We joined the road from a small gate at NY774095 and crossed over New Bridge. 

This was the main road into Kirkby Stephen from the north. We could have just followed it along the path into the town, but we decided to take the riverside footpath on the western side of the Eden. Our destination was a sawmill... intriguing! It was clear that much has been done to make this initial part of the footpath an amenity, as many young trees have been planted. 

To our surprise a stone seat had also been built. Further along, nearer to the river, a metal bench of the typical 'park' variety had been placed for contemplation. Before long, the path narrowed and passed behind first commercial buildings, and then private homes with immaculate looking gardens. We walked through a gate and a covered archway to find ourselves in the yard of the sawmill. I don't know why, (the signpost had said sawmill) but it still seemed a strange destination for the end of a footpath.

We were back at Lowmill Bridge, but on the town side of it. (NY775090) Rather than join the main road, we kept to the side road ahead of us, heading south with the church in front of us. At NY775088, we took the footpath through the churchyard and cloisters back to our starting point, the market square.
Kirkby Stephen church
I'm sure the extension to the railway walk will become a favourite. It's lovely every now and again to be able to go for a walk without needing to take a map. 

The boots? Well, the boots were somewhat mud splattered, but the feet were dry. All being well, they'll get another outing tomorrow.

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