Day 6 Kirkby Stephen to Keld

“Leaping Like Gazelles!”

Today’s title relates to our graceful navigation of Nine Standards Rigg – see below, as usual!. Here are the Day 06 stats:

Left Kirkby Stephen: 10:15 Arrived Keld: 16:45
Distance (kms): 19.88 Distance (mls): 12.42
Moving Time: 5:08 Minimum Altitude (m): 171.7
Stopped Time: 1:26 Maximum Altitude (m): 665.9
Moving Average (kph): 3.9 Total Ascent (m): 635.4
Overall Average (kph): 3.0 Total Descent (m): 489.3

Day 6 GPX file: c2c06 (right mouse click and “Save link as…”) – including the route I’d planned to take as well as the actual one. As you’ll see later there was a major deviation!

Halfway There

Goughie, our very welcome visitor and my walking companion for the next two days, arrived soon after we’d finished breakfast. Whilst The Boss was sorting out essential things (like paying the bill!) I disappeared off to the local chemist to get some Immodium. I was feeling a little queasy in the “nether region” and didn’t want to have to repeat my open air performance of yesterday, especially if it was to be every hour or so.

Today marks a significant point in my C2C walk as first, about ¾ of the way through the day, I’ll pass the half way point and by the end probably be around the 100 mile mark, although, of course, there’ll be no actual mark. Or will there?

Almost every time I go walking with Goughie he brings good, or at least better, weather with him. One notable exception was a training walk we did along part of the infamous Rossendale Way when it peed down with rain the whole way and where we kept going “off track” and had to yomp over open moorland. Anyway I digress, but today was pretty fine, although my boots were still very damp as the heating in the B&B had gone off overnight.

The next few days’ walks are considerably shorter (11 to 12 miles each) than the last two and not too hilly either. In fact, at one stage I’d thought about combining them and then splitting them into two but it would have been far too complicated and would have probably involved accommodation in some rather odd places. Yes, even more odd than the ones we did actually stay in.

So Goughie and I departed the wonderfully odd Old Croft House (9/10 for breakfast but only 6/10 for the room – it was just too small for us!) and headed for Frank’s Bridge. I really do wish I could find out who Frank was! As we did so it seemed that the luck Mr G had brought with him had run out already as it began to rain and it was “waterproofs on” time, once more. But the shower was short lived and within 10 minutes we were stripping off, very coyly of course! This was just as well as toady’s walk, as you can see from the profile above, is one long, long climb followed by an equally lengthy descent. Nevertheless, the ascent up a tarmac road still made us, like princesses, “glow” a little.

After a while we began to get our first views of the “pimples on the hill” – Nine Standards. On the way up, just after the tarmac ended and at the start of Hartley Fell we came upon an incredible and very sturdy throne like wooden bench in memory of Brian Saunders, a former Metropolitan Police Inspector. It was just wonderful and Goughie and I took it in turns to be “king” and admire the wonderful view down to Kirkby Stephen from it. More of the story about this bench and Brian, in whose memory it was erected, written by his widow Jo, can be seen here. I found the tale very moving.

We continued the long and steady climb up Hartley Fell, alongside Faraday Gill and finally reached Nine Standards, as the name implies, nine immaculately built cairns of varying sizes. Close up they’re very impressive and we stopped to take in the view, have a drink and chat to several other walkers who were doing the same. The origin of the nine “stone men” or columnar cairns on the summit, is a mystery, although many theories abound. According to Wainwright they are very ancient and are marked on 18th century maps. One theory is that they were constructed by the Roman army to look like troops from a distance and another is that they’re a couple of hundred years old and were meant to deter one side or the other during the Civil War, or one side or the other during the Jacobite Rebellion. In a way, it’s rather good that their true origins or purpose don’t seem to be known.

By the Standards we met another group of walkers (two males and about five female and of a similar age – probably “Twirlies”), which we named the “Odd Group” and we saw them a few times over the next couple of days. We never did find out what their connection was but in the end we decided that they were the remnants of a 1960s or 70s university walking group. Certainly it seemed that their links with each other were mostly fairly tenuous.

We reached the summit of Nine Standards Rigg and the trig point that apparently marks the watershed divide across England. From this point, it’s said that rivers flow west toward the Irish Sea and east toward the North Sea and metal direction plaque guides the eye toward distant viewpoints. There’s more information about this area on the Visit Cumbria website but it doesn’t seem to mention that Nine Standards Rigg also marks the boundary between Cumbria and Yorkshire. We managed to evade the Customs and Immigration post, just as well as we didn’t have our passports on us, and entered enemy territory; all seemed well and I think we managed to smuggle ourselves in undetected!

The route from Nine Standards that I’d plotted on my GPS was the wrong one, being the August to November, more easterly, route. So, after we reached the trig point and plaque we actually used our maps a bit, but also followed the Odd Group through Nine Standards Rigg and features with such appealing names as Standards Mire, Standards Haggs and Millstone Haggs. As we descended the path became wetter and wetter and the peat haggs more and more numerous. Soon we were taking long diversions in order to prevent ourselves ending up to our waists in the glorious muddy peat and leaping, gazelle like, between pieces of firm ground and grassy tussocks. Yes folks, it really is as mucky up there as Martin Wainwright cautions and our “gazelle like” leaping was always as successful as it might have been; hence I had wet feet once again! But, as you would expect, we conquered and reached an area of firmer ground where there was a large outcrop of rocks. Here the Odd Group were having their lunch and we joined them for ten or fifteen minutes whilst we ate ours.

We reached the convergence of the three seasonal routes and the going became much better, although we were able to continue our graceful leaping when it came to the crossing of Ney Gill. This soon joined Whitsun Dale Beck which then meets up with a very young River Swale not much more than a kilometer further on.


At Ravenseat Farm we found a wonderful outdoor “tea room”, run by the (at that time) very pregnant Amanda Owen, with the assistance of at least one of her daughters. Amanda’s open air tea room was another of the day’s highlights. The homemade scones, with lashings of butter and strawberry jam, washed down with mugs of tea were just the job after enduring the “wonders” of Nine Standards Rigg and we made full use of the opportunity for a great afternoon tea break. Just as we arrived the NW Walkers were leaving and we exchanged some “witty banter” with them. One, a Canadian lady called Karen was struggling a bit and, after they had left, Amanda gave us a book about life in Gunnerside (this area) during the great and disastrous foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 to pass on to her, which we were pleased to do. She chatted as we ate our scones and drank our tea and it was obvious that she loves what she does and the rather isolated life that she, her husband and children must live. There’s an interview of her by a local newspaper here. On one of the fences were a line of dead moles that she or her husband had strung up; I assumed, to discourage the others!

As we left, the Odd Group arrived and also availed themselves of Amanda’s hospitality. We reluctantly carried on, although the route from here to Keld was steadily downhill and relatively easy, following the widening beck which soon became the River Swale. After crossing the river, fast flowing due to all the rain and deep brown with the peat of the fells, we walked along the road to the former Keld YHA hostel, now transformed into a rather more upmarket (and very much more expensive) private Keld Hostel. I’d tried to book us in there but it was full – mostly it seemed with the rabble of the NW Walkers. We found Karen and gave her the book; she was very touched by Amanda’s kind thought. Then we met my beloved, who’d been waiting there a short while for us and she whisked us off to the nearest B&B I could find, The Bridge House at Muker, a couple of miles down the valley.

We checked in there and found it to be absolutely lovely, one of the most luxurious B&B’s so far (our room with a lovely four poster bed), with everything just right and a very warm and friendly welcome from John Slater, his wife and little Wilfred. After I’d cleaned my boots, John whisked them away, promising that they would be dry by the morning; and they were.

I then took Goughie back to Kirkby Stephen to pick up his car and once we were all organised we walked through the village to the Farmers Arms for dinner and several of their excellent beers. Being replete we stumbled out of the pub (actually we weren’t quite that bad!) and took a longer walk back through the village, taking a look at the church and the fine old buildings. We guessed that many of the houses were second homes and that the village had therefore lost a lot of its daily life, but we supposed that we could have been wrong. Whatever the truth is, Muker is, nevertheless, a lovely little village. Go and see it for yourself; you won’t be disappointed.

Back at the B&B we downloaded the day’s photos and looked at tomorrow’s shortish route to Reeth. According to my own calculation, based on my GPS downloads, by the end of today I’d walked 99.7 miles. If I’d have known I’d have walked around in circles up on Nine Standards Rigg to make it the round 100! Tomorrow we cross the Pennine Way and follow it for a few hundred metres. Goughie reckons that at the junction of the two paths there’ll probably be traffic lights, or a roundabout at the very least. You know, he could well be right.

With this thought in our minds we toddled off to never, never land and a good night’s sleep.

AccommodationBeverages & Comestibles
Bridge House B&B
North Yorkshire
DL11 6QG

01748 886461
Venison casserole
Boiled potatoes

(Pretty good 8/10)

Two different Black Sheep Bitters, one more local
(splendid beers!)

Some Day 06 Photos