Dales High Way near Sunbiggin Tarn, photographed by Charles Hawes

High Dales Hike Day 7: Ravenstonedale to Appleby-in-Westmorland

March 15, 2015 · 10 comments

Date walked:18th September 2014

Distance walked: 14.5 miles

Map used: OS Explorer 19 – Howgill Fells and the Upper Eden Valley

Guide book: A Dales High Way Companion by Tony and Chris Grogan


Although I slept well, I was feeling a bit fragile after last nights indulgences (I know, don’t go on about it) so I kept to poached eggs on toast and coffee for breakfast.

To get back to the Dales High Way I needed to make my way to Newbiggin-on-Lune (what a great place-name). It was an easy enough mile-and-a-half along a lane and then through a field belonging to some grazing horses.

Field near Ravenstonedale, photographed by Charles Hawes

Who were most uninterested in me

A right turn just after a sweet barn….

Barn near Newbigin-on-Lune, Cumbria,photographed by Charles Hawes

Maybe “handsome” might be better

…. led me to the side of Dry Beck, but only for a few hundred yards, as somehow I went wrong on the edge of the village and ended up climbing over a locked gate to get to the lane.

Dry Beck, Newbiggin-on-Lune, photographed by Charles Hawes

Dry Beck was not so dry after all

The A685 bypasses the (quiet) village and having crossed it I followed the lane that heads for Ravenstonedale Moor (why isn’t it Newbiggin Moor?).

View to the Howgill Fellls from Newbiggin-on-Lune, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

I must return to those Howgill Fells for a better explore sometime

On the map just one path is shown heading off towards Sunbiggin Tarn. On the ground there were several tracks but as they say, all roads lead to Rome.They don’t.

I managed to lose all paths and ended up in quite boggy ground somewhere near the tarn, but I never saw it. I got my bearings again at a finger-post for the Dales High Way by the little lane near the tarn.

Finer-post for the Dales High Way near Sunbiggin Tarn, photographed by Charles Hawes

Always reassuring to see these once in a while

That directed me north, crossing The Coast to Coast Path, (yep, done that, but before I started blogging so you missed out there). Climbing steadily, ahead were the exposed limestone outcrops of Great Kinmond.

Limestone pavement of Great Kinmond, photographed from the Dales High Way by Charles Hawes

Another fine limestone pavement

As I am writing this for once I feel very stupid that I did not refer more often to Tony and Chris’s guide to the path as I managed to get well off the route again and their description of where I should have gone seems so clear. I found myself faced with closed gates and “Do not Enter” signs  of a farm and had to deviate sharp left, crossing several fields and climbing several walls before I came across a group of women who seemed to  know where they were going. It wasn’t where I was going but they did get me to Sayle Lane, which goes to Great Asby, and I was supposed to go there! Please excuse the lack of pics; I tend to stop taking them when I am lost!

Great Asby was a sleepy little place with a rather grand  and very pink Victorian  St Peter’s Church.

St Peter's Church, Great Asby, photographed from The Dales High Way by Charles Hawes

The geology around here become Red Sandstone

It also boasts  St Helen’s Well (the map appears to record this as St Thomas’s well)……

St Helen's Well, Great Asby, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

Not a well, but a spring and unmentioned, too, by wikipedia

…. some alms houses….

St Helen's Almshouses, Great Asby, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

Also sponsored by the good St Helen

…..and a pub (The Three Greyhounds).

The Three Greyhounds, Great Asby, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

Nice inside, too

I fancied a break. The landlady was alone in the bar with her laptop. I  swelled the lunchtime sessions’ takings to the tune of a packet of crisps and a coke.

The lane out of Great Asby passes through a little wood that claimed to house red squirrels. And I saw one! But it was too quick for me to grab a pic, sorry (not doing too well on the picture front).

Under instruction of the Grogans, I turned left at the next crossroads on a lane to Drybeck but turned off  to the right to follow Scale Beck to Rutter Mill.

Rutter Mill near Great Asby, photographed from The Dales High Way by Charles Hawes

Very pretty but not Picturesque?

As you can see there were a lot of ducks milling around (teh-heh). Nothing unusual about that.

Ducks by Rutter Mill, Cumbria, photographed from The Dales High Way by Charles Hawes

Do Mallards have colonies?

But what was unusual was that for the next couple of miles alongside Hoff Beck I kept coming across gangs of ducks. They were massing on the banks,…..

Ducks on the banks of Hoff Beck, Cumbria, photographed from the Dales High Way by Charles Hawes

Why there, why then?

……they were patrolling the river….

Ducks on Hoff Beck photographed from the Dales High Way by Charles Hawes

…..and they were making a heck of a racket. Their commotion of cackling came and went like waves and you know that I am not fond of fanciful similes or of anthropomorphosising  animals but it sounded exactly like they were laughing at me.

Ducks on Hoff Beck, photographed from The Dales High Way by Charles Hawes

And it seemed to me that they were unhappy at my presence

Apart from the fact that I had never come across such a phenomenon before, it was all ever so slightly intimidating.

Ducks on Hoff Beck near Hoff, photographed from The Dales High Way by Charles Hawes

Can you see any hostility in their eyes?

At Hoff, the Grogans guide offered a more rural two-and-a-half-mile  walk to Appleby but for some reason which now escapes me I chose the slightly more direct route of following the busy B4260 into town. Silly really.

Brigantes Walking Holidays were delivering my bags to a Bed and Breakfast for me to collect but it occurred to me that I could ask the owner if he would meet me at the station with the bags, allowing me an unencumbered visit to the town. He  was happy to oblige (I offered the taxi fare, of course).

Appleby-in-Westmorland is a very agreeable town. At the top of its tree – lined main street called Boroughgate is a white-painted column carrying a clock and weather-vane. This stands opposite the entrance to Appleby Castle,which had belonged to Lady Anne Clifford.

High Cross, Appleby-in-Westmorland, photographed by Charles Hawes

It’s called High Cross

I walked down Boroughgate and stuck my nose in the courtyard of St Anne’s Hospital which is a little way down the hill.


St Anne's Hospital. Appleby-in-Westmorland, photographed by Charles Hawes

Very jolly with its red-painted doors and pink drainpipes to match the stone

At the bottom of the town is matching column.

Low Cross, The Cloisters and St Lawrence's Church, Applebyt-in-Westmorland, photographed by Charles Hawes

This one’s called, rather imaginatively, Low Cross.

I popped into the church, and popped out again.

St Lawrence's Church, Appleby-in-Westmorland, photographed by Charles Hawes

Not very exciting inside

…….but what I was really looking for was a cafe and a cup of tea. There were several possibilities but I chose a place just over the bridge crossing the River Eden. This shop-cum-cafe had some seating outside and the really quite funny/irritating guy there promised that he would deliver my cream tea (quite passable) in time for me to catch my train.

And from there everything worked according to plan. My Bed and Breakfast chap met me at 3.30 as arranged. I had time to change out of my walking clothes and into my still clean clothes in the Gents. The train came on time and the journey back to Skipton was as scenic as I expected, passing by or through several places I had visited over the last week. The kind staff at Skipton station allowed me to leave my bags with them whilst I went to get my car. I was home by 9.30. Exhausted, as usual. You don’t go on walking holidays to put your feet up, after all.




{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

David Marsden March 15, 2015 at 8:42 am

Well done, Charles. Locked gates, walls, bog and hordes of man-hunting spooky ducks but you triumphed. And all on a pack of crisps and a coke to boot. Didn’t know you’ve done the C2C too. Please redo and blog about it. Not too much to ask, I think. Dave


Charles March 15, 2015 at 10:56 am

Makes one feel a bit of a wimp feeling threatened by ducks. redoing the C2C would be good but there’s so many other good walks to do…..


Anne Wareham March 15, 2015 at 10:19 am

What do you mean, ‘not a well, but a spring’ – you know very well that wells well up – like Ffymony Yearall, which is also a spring – and springs and wells are interchangeable terms.

You didn’t remember that Sunbiggin is on my family tree?

I don’t understand how you keep getting lost on marked public paths. With an impeccable sense of direction like yours?


Charles March 15, 2015 at 10:59 am

I think most readers will think of wells as deep round stone-lined holes in the ground with a little roof and a gnome.
So is there a family connection to the Tarn?
I reckon they keep moving the paths.


James Golden March 15, 2015 at 1:47 pm

I do wonder how these small villages avoid the modern strip development that so spoils our landscape. Are there zoning regulations or laws that preserve the views, or do you hide the ugly from us?


Charles March 18, 2015 at 10:54 pm

We used to be plagued by what was called ribbon development in our townns and villages. Then the worm turned and planning restrictions came in that attempted to put boundraies around villages and towns so as to discourage and refuse sprawling development. It has only been partially successful.


Marianna Paulson March 16, 2015 at 3:58 pm

I’m walkin’, I’m walkin’ – vicariously with you.

If you’re not on the payroll for the U.K. Tourist Board, you ought to be, Charles!


Charles March 18, 2015 at 10:56 pm

Hey thanks Marianna! Though I think I am usually a bit tough on stuff that they would rather ignore.


Paul Steer March 16, 2015 at 10:32 pm

I think the hostile- eyed duck photograph is painterly.


Charles March 18, 2015 at 10:57 pm

Hey, it always makes me feel that I have made the grade when you say that, thanks.


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