Friday 18 September, 2015
Orton to Kirkby Stephens - 21.5 kms
6 hours walking
We woke to low cloud and a light drizzle, but heavier rain had fallen during the night.
We noted that our host was looking extremely tired, as he served breakfast. It was with sadness, that we learnt that he had been called out at 10pm, by the Search and Rescue Team, to find a local woman, who had not returned from her afternoon walk on the moors. We have since learnt that it took several days, before they were able to find her body.
We were cheered by the rural view from our breakfast room and the antics of a red squirrel, who would not sit still long enough for me to get a decent photo.
Red squirrels once roamed all over England, but their numbers have been depleted by the grey, which was introduced from North America in the 19th century. Conservationists in this area are pleased that their efforts to remove the grey has resulted in a healthy increase in red squirrel numbers.
A good half hour later we managed to find our 1st C2C sign, to confirm we were headed in the correct direction. Thankfully the rain had abated by this time.
Rounding this corner, we looked across the field and spotted the Brisgang in a field of tall, scotch thistles, having made their turn too early. A lot of scrambling was necessary before they were on trail again.
We hiked together for a short while, but they quickly outpaced us. Our style was more relaxed, taking time to stop to smell the daisies, so to speak.
Isolated in this moor, is Sunbiggen Tarn, a wildlife haven for migrating birds. Alas, we spotted very few.
Mid morning found us relaxing on this low, wooden bridge across the bog, energising our bodies with a dose of the delicious malteeser chocolate, bought in Orton.
Soon the moors were left behind and we were again delighting in the rich, green pastures of this area.
The farmer, at Bent's farm, was working his sheep with his dogs, as we passed.
It was long, slow descent into Smardale Valley.
Below is an old railway building on the Carlisle to Settle Line, built in the 1860's and closed in 1962.
Beyond the building, we dropped further down to Smardale bridge spanning Scandal Beck. Curious cows came to inquire about where we were going.
The Brisgang had arrived well before us and were lazing about, enjoying the sunshine and conversation with a riding group, who were also taking time to enjoy lunch in this enchanting spot.
On the long climb from the beck to Smardale Fell we were able to view the spectacular Smardale Gill railway viaduct - 90 ft high on 14 stone arches
The trail continued to follow stone walls, bordering fields of grazing sheep. At this point below, Kirkby Stephen was just a couple of kms away, but our eyes were drawn across Eden Valley, to the distant Pennines, which we would cross on the morrow. They seemed soo far away.
Using my 30 times zoom, I was able to find the Nine Standard Rigs which we have to climb up to.
Walking through Kirkby Stephen we spotted this delightful use for old boots.
The Black Bull [don't you like their pub names], was pleasant but as we strolled around the town choosing where to dine, we had a beer or two in your ever so British, White Lion Pub. Extra flags and decoration for Rugby World Cup fever. Someone spread the word about the reputation of 'The Mango Tree' Indian Restaurant, as most of our C2C friends converged here to eat their delicious food.
1/3 of the journey done! Such a satisfying feeling to see what distance we had covered so far and strong confidence for the days ahead.