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Day 1: Kirkby Stephen to Ravenstonedale
8.5 miles - 1,244ft of ascent

The trail starts at a very significant place for walkers of Alfred Wainwright-related long distance footpaths – the grand colonnaded entrance to St. Stephen’s Church. AW’s Coast to Coast Walk (190 miles from St. Bees Head to Robin Hood’s Bay) passes it as does the recently established 247 mile Pennine Journey which is based on his 1938 circular walk from Settle to Hadrian’s Wall and back.

After a meander around the Poetry Path, a recent attraction for visitors to Kirkby Stephen, the trail joins the Coast to Coast Walk as it makes its first contact with one of the disused railways that are met on the trail when it passes Kirkby Stephen East station. Soon another section of this line from Darlington to Tebay is met – one that has been transformed by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust into Smardalegill National Nature Reserve which is a 3½ mile section on either side of the magnificent Smardalegill Viaduct. Again the trail joins the Coast to Coast Walk route on its approach to Smardale Bridge but is left there to make its way to Ravenstonedale. This pleasant village, with its two old inns, the King’s Head and the Black Swan, has an interesting connection to England’s only monastic order – the Gilbertines. On the north side of St. Oswald’s Church, which is probably of Saxon origin, are the excavated ruins of a Gilbertine Abbey built around AD 1200.

The start at Kirkby Stephen
The start at Kirkby Stephen

Smardale Gill Viaduct
Smardale Gill Viaduct

Smardale Bridge
Smardale Bridge

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