Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Smardale Gill Circular Walk

 Smardale Gill & Smardale Gill Viaduct Walk

In 2016 the Yorkshire Dales National Park was extended westward to take in some of the eastern edges of Cumbria including the Howgills and the Eden Valley including Smardale.

An approximate 25 minute drive from Pry House Farm, this 4.5 mile circular walk, on very easy going, is a relaxing ramble through Smardale Nature Reserve along the disused railway line and back through pastures and tracks that provides spectacular scenery and a wealth of fauna & flora to enjoy.

Take the A685 Kirkby Stephen to Tebay road.  Shortly after the sign for Newbiggin-on-Lune is a right hand turn signposted Great Asby.  Turn right here and immediately turn left and park up.  Walk up the road to Great Asby for approx 100 yards and turn right into the entrance to Brownber Hall.  On the left of the stone gateposts is the very attractive Lodge House.  There is a private, no entry sign on one of the gateposts but this is for vehicles, not walkers.

  Follow the driveway for a short distance to the entrance of the Nature Reserve and the old railway line.  Once on the railway line carry on along the track until you arrive at the viaduct bridge.  This is a very pleasant and relaxing stroll with an abundance of wildflowers, birds and butterflies to spot and some wonderful scenic vantage points to pause and take in the fantastic views. 
Fairies live here!

Trees provide welcome shade.

Scandal Beck flows beneath Smardale Bridge.  If you take the circular route you will cross this bridge towards the end of the walk.

Smardale Viaduct is am imposing structure and on a bright sunny day produces fabulous shadows.

Having crossed the viaduct you have two choices - a) continue along the railway path to discover even more wild flowers, birds and butterflies then turn round and return the way you came or b) at the end of the viaduct bridge take the stile on the right.  Follow the path through pastures until you come to a second stile. After crossing the stile turn right and follow the track to Smardale Bridge.

This is the bridge you have seen from the railway track early in the walk (photos 1 & 5).

From the bridge follow the track up the other side through to Friar's Bottom Farm.  Opposite the farmhouse is a stile and fingerpost marked Bridleway.  From here the track rises up over a small hill and soon meets the railway line.  Turn left and follow the railway track back to your starting point.

The linear walk (option 1) is suitable for wheelchair users and pushchairs and is a lovely safe walk for children.  The circular walk does have some uneven surfaces & inclines but is still classed as an easy walk. For more details and a map click here Smardale Gill Walk  

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Summer in Swaledale and at Pry House Farm

 Summer in Swaledale and all that goes on at Pry House Farm during the summer.

One of the features of Swaledale that has visitors returning time and time again are our hay meadows

At Pry House Farm we take great pride in our traditional hay meadows which produce some of the finest hay imaginable.  These fields of gold are exactly that to upland farmers.  Once made into hay it becomes an invaluable resource that will sustain our sheep throughout winter and lambing time.

     A baking hot hay day on home field at Pry House Farm

The most important task in summer for farmers everywhere is gathering in the crops and that is certainly true in the dales.  It is important that we get our hay when its ready and we judge that by quality and quantity.  The grass has to be long and thick enough to produce a decent crop but not 'old grown'.  The flowers in the meadows have to have gone to seed in order that we get the same flower and herb rich crop year after year after year.  Another vital ingredient to making good hay is summer    sunshine.  We need plenty hot, dry sunny days to be sure  to get all the fields cut, strown, rowed up and baled.  This  year the weather is well and truely on our side.  We have  made and safely gathered in over 3000 small bales with  the rest of the grass being made into good quality round    bale silage.              

But not all our meadow flowers are in the meadows! We have the most beautiful display of meadow flowers and grasses right outside the farmhouse dining / kitchen window.  I have long since given up on trying to cultivate a lawn and instead allowed nature to take its course and wow .... its given us a magnificent show of colour and movement.

Summer is also when our sheep get sheared (or clipped).  The hoggs are clipped first.  Hoggs are young sheep, sheep that are being sheared for the first time.  Shearing hoggs is harder work than shearing the older ewes.  Its a new experience for them and their fleece is generally tighter.

I expect Heidi and Hetty, my Herdwick ewes, will be glad to be rid of their coats in the next day or two.  However even on the hottest of days they don't suffer proving that wool really does keep you warm in winter and cool in summer.

The pet lambs are enjoying being outside in the little field next to the farmhouse.  They have shelter, a plentiful supply of water and supplementary feed to make sure they thrive.


Summer is also about holidays and for those seeking privacy, peace & quiet, space, huge skies, endless scenery then the Shepherd's Hut on home field is dream come true.  Watch the birds, watch the clouds, watch the lambs, watch the hay making action - every visit is different.  The bed & breakfast rooms in the farmhouse have the same wonderful vista with the added bonus of breakfast being made and no washing up to do!

Happy times, happy days!

Saturday, 21 May 2022

An easy and very lovely circular walk in Low Row

A lovely circular walk in Low Row

I have written up this walk primarily with Hillcrest Cottage guests in mind however it is such a lovely walk I thoroughly recommend it to Pry House Farm B&B guests too.  Its not a long walk and easy going.  Allow approx 2 hours and perhaps combine it with a visit to Reeth or Richmond.  A perfect day out.

There are two tracks running parallel to Hillcrest.  Take the lower track past the copper beech tree.  Do not take the left hand fork down to the road but carry straight on along the track and past Mellbecks Cottage and the impressive Brass Nappa House and Hall.

You may think you are walking very close to these lovely properties but it is a public footpath.

Having past Brass Nappa follow the track till the end and turn right.  The path passes through a wooded area which reaches a small ford.  Depending on how much water you encounter either walk through the ford or take the high wooden foot bridge on your right. 

After a few yards you will come to a waymarker with blue marker for bridleways and a yellow marker indicating a public footpath.  Follow the yellow marker (public footpath) the follows the wall.

Peep over the wall. You may be in for a surprise!

Another Mrs Calvert owns these alpaccas and takes visitors 'Alpacca Walking' around Low Row Alpacca Walks Its a very peaceful and relaxing pastime and great fun too.  Cath is very knowledgeable about the area.  This is a great way to gain insider information from a local.

Once again the path takes you through woodland, through a gate and down some steps to the main road.  Turn left and you will straight away see the village sign for Low Row.

Walk along the road approximately 50 yards and take the road on your right signposted Crackpot and Summer Lodge.

In a very short while you will come to Isles Bridge.  Do not cross over the bridge but go through the little gate on your left with finger post to Reeth.

Keep the river on your right all the time.  The path follows the river for just over a mile.  There are plenty of places to come off the path and sit by the river to listen to the birds but be aware that the River Swale is a deceptively fast flowing river and dogs & children must be supervised at all times.

Shortly after leaving Isles Bridge the path suddenly is the top of a retaining wall! Built to keep the river from flooding the fields it is broad enough to be safe but strong trainers or walking boots are required.  I'm afraid there's nowhere in the dales suitable for walking in flip-flops!  Stone paths can be slippery at any time of year, tree roots and rabbit holes can catch you out so please wear suitable footwear. 

The wall top walkway is only a short stretch and then reverts to a more normal path.

You are now walking back towards the village with the river on your right and Low Row on the left.  At the first gate look up and left.  Hillcrest is visible between the two copper beech trees.

The path winds it way along the riverside, over wooden bridges that spanning small becks full of water making its way to the river. The landscape varies from pasture, meadow and woodland.  Finally the path curves left, over a wooden walkway to steps that take you up a winding path to the road. 

Where the path meets the road turn left and walk back to the village taking care to be facing the oncoming traffic.  The B6270 isn't a busy road and it is easy to hear cars coming.

The Punchbowl Inn is the perfect resting & refuelling stop.  Open for lunch Wednesday to Sunday (best to book on Sundays) my soup was delicious.  

If you are not holidaying at Hillcrest then The Punchbowl Inn is a good place to park and start your walk.  Walk west along the village and turn right up the little road on which a red telephone box stands.  You will see Hillcrest Cottage and the path as described at the beginning of this blog.  Enjoy!

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Treasure Trails

 Treasure Trails - the fun way to explore for all the family.

Have you discovered Treasure Trails yet? https://www.treasuretrails.co.uk/ Its a different way to explore a destination, to hear the back story of a place by solving clues and following the trail.  I recently spent a very enjoyable couple of hours with friends in Goathland on the North York Moors.  I am no stranger to Goathland but I soon found myself down tracks & paths I didn't know existed, discovering points of interest and seeing the place with fresh eyes. 

The guides cost £9.99 each and can be downloaded onto your computer as a PDF to print off yourself or you can have a hard copy posted to your home.  Personally I would recommend the latter; a quality product, professionally presented.  Allow a week for your chosen trail to arrive in the post.  If you are short of time choose the PDF version.

There are hundreds of Treasure Trails for almost every town, city & large village in the country.  If you are staying at Pry House Farm B&B or Hillcrest Cottage look for Kirkby Stephen, Hawes, Richmond and Barnard Castle.  It's another way to enjoy your stay.  Have fun!