It was a beautiful sunny day on Saturday, perfect timing for a walk from Dufton in Cumbria’s Eden Valley. Nearby at Flakebridge Woods, the bluebells are a vast carpet of blue. Go see them before they disappear!
I have left the walks book we used at the caravan, so my walk description might not be totally accurate. I do have a photo of the route though, below.
Anyway ,we parked roadside in the pretty village of Dufton. There is a small carpark in the centre, but that was full. The village is popular with walkers hiking Dufton Pike, High Cup Nick and The Pennine Way. This walk though is mostly low level with lovely fell views.
This was a delightfully scenic walk, made more so by spring sunshine and spring flowers. Thanks for joining me!
* I have deleted a photo of moles hanging from a fence, a practice often seen in the countryside. The moles are considered
pests by farmers and the mole catcher displays them , he gets paid per mole. Sorry for any offence.
If your thinking of doing a gentle walk in Cumbrias Eden Valley, then this one’s for you.
The adjoining villages of Bampton and Bampton Grange are lovely and quiet with a real community feel. We parked near the bridge in a small roadside parking spot by the river. From here we crossed the bridge passing St Patrick’s Church on the right and took a footpath to the side of the former Crown and Mitre pub. Then we headed across Knipescar Common and walked back along the River Lowther.
This was a pleasant 2.5 mile walk in a little known area of the Lake District. 🐑
The morning of our planned 11 mile walk from our van in Melmerby, the sun was shining brightly. Having done a walk into the fells together a couple of years ago, Wil thought it was high time we got back up there. I agreed in principle ( I love a view! ) but I knew I would spend most of the hike trailing behind my other half, nearly all of my views would be of a couple of small specs disappearing into the distance. 😉
Book ‘ Walking In The North Pennines Cicerone Guide ‘ by Paddy Dillon. Walk 6. Explorer Map 0L31. 18 km ( 11 miles).
This was quite a challenging walk for me with lots of uphill bits and a long slog back down from Hartside. The weather was on our side though and not a soul in sight for many a mile. With only tumbling lapwings and chattering meadow pippits for company, it’s certainly a great way of spending time with nature.
I just had to share these photos from our walk on Saturday afternoon. We found ourselves in an enchanting snowdrop wonderland. And we had it almost to ourselves, apart from a couple of others with their dogs.
We were walking through a little woodland adjacent to NT Acorn Bank in Cumbrias Eden Valley. Although the house, gardens and watermill are closed until March, a public footpath meanders through the woods. Much of the ground was carpeted in one of our most delicately beautiful Spring flowers ‘ The Snowdrop’. Seen as a symbol of hope and purity, snowdrops were apparently named after pearl drop earrings, not flakes of snow.
It was really magical to wander amongst them. Have you seen any impressive Snowdrop displays this year?
Saturday dawned grey and drizzley. Time for a woodland walk, somewhere with adequate shelter under a canopy of softly falling leaves. We headed to Armathwaite in Cumbria’s Eden Valley, Coombs Wood with its Riverside path, covered in crunchy copper beech leaves, was our destination.
There are lots of Woodland Walks like this, following the wide River Eden. We came across one of ten Eden Benchmark Sculptures , this one we have seen before, ‘ Vista’ by Graeme Micheson . It depicts a solitary walker who abandons his clothes on a rock , for a dip in the water below.
The Woodland in Autumn is ablaze with colour. I have yet to visit in the Spring when Bluebells, Wild Garlic and Yellow Star of Bethlehem cover the forest floor. Now is a good time to find fungi, see blazing gold bracken and patches of blooming Gorse.
Leaving Coombs Wood our route took us through the little hamlet of Longdales and along an old bridleway with Pennine Fell views, on a clearer day.
And then we headed back along the road to the village of Armathwaite, which had two choices for a pub lunch, a hostelry at each side of a bridge that spans the River Eden.
The Fox 🦊 & Pheasant beckoned, it’s the kind of pub that lights a welcoming fire and has some good real ales on tap. The locals hang their hats on a stuffed foxes head. We enjoyed sandwiches with chips on the side.
Believe it or not, there were as many showers as rays of sunshine 🌞 on Saturday. Somehow we managed to dodge the rain quite expertly though, as you can see by my photos. You’ll just have to imagine the speedy dashes to the car , to get out of the sudden downpours.
A trial Pumpkin Patch at Kirkoswald was the mornings destination. It was so close by ( to the caravan) that I just had to drag Wil and Hugo for a wander round a field of giant ( and teeny) pumpkins. The Patch belongs to Eden Valley farmer and writer Hannah Jackson aka The Red Shepherdess . I hadn’t heard of her until very recently , apparently she is quite the celebrity in Cumbria. Anyway if your in the area over the upcoming school holidays Red’s Pumpkin Patch is opening again, until all the Gourds are gone. Just take your wellies!
Later on Saturday we visited family in Askham, first we took Hugo for a walk on the Lowther Estate. Not for us today , the impressive Castle Ruins & Garden , we made the most of the footpaths that fan the parkland instead. The sun shone inbetween showers, a bracing breeze whipped up swirling leaves and buzzards soared in the sky.
The heavens opened on our way to visit Mum . After a lovely tea we headed back to the caravan. There’s no cosier evening than one feeling snug and toasty, whilst rain pitter patters on a tin can roof. 😊
Sunday stayed dry and on our way home we called in at Kirkby Lonsdale in South Cumbria. It was warm enough for ice cream at The Milking Parlour on Jingling Lane. I visited my favourite shops and bought a new bobble hat. Happy days. 🍦
Thanks for dropping by. Are you feeling Autumnal yet? 🍁
At the weekend we returned to the village of Shap in the Eden Valley of Cumbria, to complete a walk we took back in June. At the time we ended up fleeing from a feisty herd of cows ( and a bull! ) , so didn’t finish our hike properly. This time we opted to do the final part of the walk first, ending at Shap Abbey and then retraced our steps back.
Keld was actually a slight detour for us. It is a pretty little place and from which a ‘temporary road’ known as The Concrete Road was built in the 1930s for the construction of the Haweswater Reservoir. Cars are not permitted as the cement track is full of pot-holes, though walkers and cyclists may use it apparently. Another time we will explore!
We turned round and found a footpath sign for Shap Abbey just before the hamlet. Scroll down for a surprise little face, peering at
us from a tree. 🤗
On the way back to Shap we passed more late summer flowers and some curious cows. Luckily they were safely tucked away behind those lovely dry stone walls.
Back in the village and just in time for lunch. I love the little cafe there , which is named after the abbey. Ploughman’s for Wil and homemade quiche for me. A happy morning indeed. 🙂
Just to confuse you ( and myself ! ) this post includes photos from two separate visits to Alston and The South Tynedale Railway. We were there in the Spring ( I included a brief update in my April Round-Up) and also more recently in July. The weather was actually better in April! Anyway I’ve mixed the best photos together , so you get an idea of what the area is like. 😊
The top of this North Pennines town is 350 metres above sea level, making it England’s highest Market Town. However I haven’t actually stumbled upon a market happening yet !
There are plentiful old buildings in Alston, many have been recently renovated by the Alston Townscape Heritage Scheme. The olde worldy look of the town has been used in the past to its advantage. It was transformed into a Victorian fishing village for a 1999 BBC adaptation of Oliver Twist.
Once upon a time Alston was connected to the Northumberland town of Haltwhistle by rail. The 13 mile track was closed in the seventies , but part of it has been preserved as a Narrow Gauge Heritage Railway. On both our visits we headed to the railway for walks along the adjoining railway footpath.
There’s a fantastic cafe at the Station called Hickins@thecrossing’scafe which is the perfect pitstop for a lovely lunch. It’s so welcoming , I wouldn’t have a problem waiting there a while. 😚 Also at Alston Station is a museum, toilets , shop and ticket office.
Walking the South Tyne Trail ,which runs adjacent to the railway 🚂 is a pleasure. There are bridges, views and wildlife along the way. Springtime saw Lapwings nesting in the fields, undisturbed by passing walkers and trains. Summer blooms such as Orchids and Melencoly Thistles adorn the trackside from June. In April we walked to Kirkhaugh Station and caught the train back and in July we continued on to Slaggyford ( 5 miles ) , which is currently the end of the line.
There are both Steam and Diesel Locomotives in operation and the railway is run by a friendly group of volunteers.
Between Alston and Slaggyford you can hop on and off at both Kirkhaugh and Lintley. Various local Walks leaflets are available from Alston Station.
On our second visit we arrived at Slaggyford Station in perfect time to catch the train back, after a quick brew at the buffet car. Dogs aren’t allowed inside the buffet car, but the pretty waiting room is open to all, including four legged friends.
We didn’t get time to explore the Northumberland village of Slaggyford on this occasion. It’s unusual name possibly derives from the Old English for dirty muddy ford, referencing a fast moving part of the River Tyne that dredged up river mud.
The journey back from Slaggyford takes about 30 minutes on the train. The carriages are more spacious than that of The Ratty Narrow Gauge Railway at Ravenglass & Eskdale.
We ended both our excursions with a pint at the Turks Head Pub in Alston. I had first thought the pub was named after an actual Turkish Man’s bonce, but a Turks Head is actually a decorative knot !
When I haven’t been to the caravan for a couple of weeks, I’m always amazed at the changes in the garden. Not being a gardener at all, I struggled to identify this latest blossoming shrub. Any ideas?
My poor pansy pot has been used by a moth to lay their eggs in the flowers. The culprit is below. I think it’s an Angle Shades Moth. Oh well! It’s good to give back to nature. 😃
Saturday morning in Melmerby and the church was all decorated for a wedding with pretty white wildflowers.
And there’s always something to see on little walks round about the village.
In the afternoon we went to Honister Slate Mine where Wil would be going to Infinity and Beyond! His Birthday present from me this year was an Infinity Bridge Experience at Honister. Rather him than me! Scroll down for Wils photo of the bridge. Meanwhile Hugo and I explored around the site. There are some cool slate sculptures. 😚
Wil was buzzing after the Infinity Bridge.
I had noticed several people heading up the fells from the Honister Car Park. Has anyone done a Wainwright from there?
We then went for tea at Mary Mount Hotel near Keswick. The terrace has wonderful views. 🥰
Bank Holiday Weekend ( also platyjubes of course! ) , we escaped the celebrations for a while, choosing a less obvious Lakeland area for a countryside walk.
Shap is a long grey stoned settlement in the North Eden District. It has a couple of pubs, a shop, cafe, chippy and an open air swimming pool, the highest heated outdoor pool in England. The steady A6 is the main road that meanders through the village, it used to be the principal thoroughfare for the Lake District & Scotland.
Not far away is the busy M6 , but to the West of Shap it is picturesque and remote. I had downloaded this Walk from the Eden’s River Trust. Part of the route is on the Coast To Coast footpath , though we didn’t see one other human being out walking. It was so peaceful.
Things then got a bit scary , a family of cattle that we hadn’t noticed at first started to take a bit too much interest in us as we tried to cross the field. They had a Bull with them and youngsters, but it was the cows themselves that started kicking up a fuss , fairly galloping towards us. We managed to scare them away , though not before Wil got knocked off his feet and Hugo got butted. I’m not sure how but we legged it into a solitary farmhouse garden with the cattle at our heels. Definitely a hair raising encounter, we were a bit shuck up!
To make matters worse we would have to sneek past the herd again to continue with our walk. We waited until they had calmed down and ambled away, an unconcerned resident of the farmhouse didn’t seem to care that we had hotfooted into their garden or that the cows had chased us there…
The Preminstratensian Order of Monks from France settled in Shap in the 13th Century and built beautiful Shap Abbey from local stone. The monks became known as The White Cannons because they wore robes made from undyed sheep fleeces.
Here was a lovely place to stop for a while by the river Lowther again. I must admit we had lost our thirst for continuing the planned route , which would take us through the hamlet of Keld and on past another large standing stone called The Goggleby Stone. Instead we made our way back to Shap through a couple of cow free fields and along a country lane.
We ended up having a delicious cheese scone and a cup of coffee each at the Abbey Kitchens cafe in Shap, the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by. I’m so glad Wil and Hugo were non the worse for our ordeal. We will definitely be keeping our distance from any cows in the future. Although apparently there are some handsome looking Highland Cattle in Swindale………..