Coast to Coast continues with 4 Fearless Petersfield Ramblers
Day 9: September 2021
The Post-to-Post walk (read on to find out why the change of name for this day!)
It was an easy start this morning, gathering in the centre of Kirby Stephens where we were all staying. A gentle walk over Frank’s Bridge led us into the hamlet of Hartley, a small settlement that saw the start of the long incline up onto the moors. A steady climb took us past several quarries and some fascinating old trees that lined the road. Before we became too comfortable the path led us onto the bleak moors.
It was then a relentless climb past many sheep folds and false summits to gain our aim of reaching the Nine Standards Rigg. They lie at the watershed of Britain sending waters one way towards the Irish Sea and the other to the North Sea. No one knows the reason they are there, there are several suggestions such as the English were trying to fool the Scots that there was a large encampment, but they remain a mystery. There is evidence that they have been there since at least 1507 and in recent years they have been restored and should last into the future.
Just along from this fantastic viewpoint the route splits. Depending upon the season there are three different routes. We took the appropriate one which takes you across barren, wild moorland. It is very boggy in many places and the path is difficult to ascertain. Helpfully a series of wooden posts have been added which guide the walker across the often treacherous moor. Therefore we jokingly called it the Post to Post walk as without the aid of these simple pieces of wood we could easily have lost our way. Walking up in that area of the moor in mist or wet weather would be foolish.
Eventually we gradually dropped in height, crossing many wet and boggy becks down towards Ravenseat. Some of you who watch the Yorkshire Shepherdess- the farmer on TV who has 9 children- will recognise that this is her home. As we approached it was easy to see that it is a popular spot for tourists with many milling around. We took advantage of the picnic tables to sit and eat our lunch. After the obligatory photograph of the farmhouse, we continued our journey following the beck. The path undulated wildly in places but gradually took us down towards Swaledale and the village of Keld- blink and you would miss it!
Sinking thankfully onto a picnic table in front of the only pub in the village we enjoyed a refreshing cup of tea as we awaited our lift. 12 more miles accomplished.
Day 10: September 2021
Today began cloudy but mild. A pleasant path over the Swale led us higher up towards the moors. This area was rife with lead mines, the first of which could be seen as we climbed steadily upwards. Passing behind Crackpot Hall (so name after pot or cave of the crows, not the inhabitants!) we were led up a delightful valley to Swinner Gill Lead mines. Here the remains of an industry now defunct were evident, buildings lying derelict with stones strewing the path. The thought of how the miners must have walked up from the valley every day in all weathers to work there amazed us.
A sharp climb then led us out onto the moors, but a completely different scenery from those of yesterday. Heather was evident across the land and grouse were raised in that area. Dropping down past more lead mines to a beck led to the inevitable sharp climbs back up again. From here, for several miles, was the destruction of the landscape from mining. Building proliferated, all in poor condition, the land was ravaged and there were large areas where the peat had been dug up to provide power for the smelting process. It is a desolate landscape but a great reminder of the industrial revolution and how many men had to work.
We thankfully descended past all the chaos to Surrender bridge where we ate our lunch. All morning the wind had howled across the moor as we walked, making it difficult to fight against it as it tried to blow us off course. The bridge afforded us some welcome respite before we continued on across gentler terrain on our way into the small village of Reeth which is well worth a visit. Sitting in a local tea shop with a pot of tea we reflected on the 12 miles- the contrast of the moors from yesterday to today, the extensive mining that was evident and the howling wind we had had to cope with.
Author: Lynne Burge