Friday, 27 May 2011

Nine Standards Rigg

This has been on my "to do" list for a while, and finally I was able to make the most of a bank holiday Monday with Claire, stopping off at Mainsgill Farm on the A66 on the way over to Cumbria for more tasty goodies. We reached Kirkby Stephen in no time, and after mistakenly driving round a cattle auction for a while we soon found the free car park. We were equipped with map only, so we stopped off in the tourist office and picked up a leaflet describing the walk, for only 20 pence!

crossing the river Eden

The walk started off taking us through the back of Kirkby Stephen to the hamlet of Hartley. We headed up a long winding road, with the huge quarry to our right. We immediately started gaining height, and with each step the views opened up. We had Wild Boar Fell and the Howgill Fells to our right.

signpost pointing to Wild Boar Fell

Ahead of us we would catch glimpses of Nine Standards Rigg from time to time. Over to the north of us and over the A66 we could see the North Pennines of Dufton Fell, Great Dunn Fell and Cross Fell, and far in the distance westwards were the Lake District fells, with Blencathra's distinctive shape the gateway to the Northern Fells. After a mile or so the road came to an end and we reached the footpath to the fells.

Nine Standards are up there if you look carefully...
The Coast To Coast footpath was well maintained and we passed a map and information board advising us which route to take across the moors to minimise damage to the fragile landscape. As we gained height the winds picked up steadily, but it was fairly easy going - we were lucky to be walking after the long dry spell and so avoided the bogs that would no doubt have made the walk tougher. It seemed with each step the views got better and it was hard not to keep stopping and turning to admire the views behind us, with the plains of Eden Valley looking great surrounded by the various groups of hills.

looking westwards the Lake District in the distance behind the Eden Valley

The route to take was fairly obvious with the path being well used as well as lots of footpath signs to show the way, but the leaflet we had picked up made it very easy to follow and pointed out some perfect viewpoints so the twenty pence was a worth investment!

The final haul up to Nine Standards was really enjoyable with the cairns now firmly in our sights.
When we made it to the top the wind was howling around us and despite the bright sunshine it got very cold. We stopped to admire the cairns and walked on the few hundred metres to the viewpoint marker  and then on up to the Ordnance Survey column which marked the top of the fell.

From here the views were huge, if it was less hazy we could have seen Criffel in the distance over the Solway Firth and looking eastwards we could see over Dale and Moor, all the way to Shacklesborough near the Tees reservoirs around Baldersdale.

At this point it was very tempting to keep on in that direction - I'm sure we could have reached Tan Hill by nightfall! But with the car back in Kirkby Stephen and some cats to feed at home we stopped behind a wall for shelter before retracing our route back down the fell.

Apart from the wind the weather was absolutely perfect and this is an area I am sure we will be coming back to sooner rather than later.

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