Monday, 5 August 2019

Nine Standards Rigg

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Route: Kirkby Stephen, Bollam Bridge, Ewbank Scar, Ladthwaite, Reigill, Faraday Gill, Nine Standards Rigg, White Mossy Hill, Jack Standards, Dukerdale Pots, Tailbridge Hill, B6270, Nateby, Bollam Bridge, Kirkby Stephen

Date: 05/08/2019
From: Kirby Stephen

Parking: Kirby Stephen
Start Point: Kirkby Stephen
Region: Yorkshire Dales

Route length: 12.0 miles (19.3km)
Time taken: 05:07
Average speed: 2.6mph
Ascent: 736m
Descent: 743m

Summits on this walk:
Nine Standards Rigg (662m)

Additional summits: White Mossy Hill (659m), Tailbridge Hill (547m)

Other points of interest: Ewbank Scar

Nine Standards Rigg was the objective for today's walk. The hill stands a hairs-breadth outside the Yorkshire Dales park boundary but I think it's close enough to be considered a part of it. What makes Nine Standards Rigg particularly interesting are the Nine Standards - a collection of tall cairns which line the summit of the fell. Also on today's walk would be some off-piste moorland tramping and a surprise in the form of Ewbank Scar.

I parked in the market town of Kirkby Stephen - a free car park can be found near the fire station. Making a mental note of the coffee shops, I passed through the town, following the main road south to the B6259 before eventually finding a bridleway to Bollam Bridge which crosses the River Eden as it flows along the east side of the town. The bridge supports look like they once held something more substantial than the modest wooden crossing we see today and may explain its other name 'Swingy Bridge'.
The path leading down to Swingy Bridge
The River Eden
Footpath near Swingy Bridge
Across the Eden, I passed over some open fields to reach another bridge, this one crossing a dismantled railway line. Beyond the bridge, the muddy path climbs shortly before descending into the dark woods along Ladthwaite Beck. In the woods resides Ewbank Scar.
Stenkrith Hill
Looking north towards the Pennines
Podgill Viaduct
Ladthwaite Beck
I hadn't really researched the scar so it came as an impressive surprise. The beck is forced along a narrow course of rock at the base of a tall cliff, reminiscent of a water slide. This is the result of the intense vertical movement of the earth’s crust fractured the carboniferous limestone along a deep fault, and wrenched one side high above the other. I imagine it's even more spectacular on a really wet day.
Ewbank Scar
Ewbank Scar
Ewbank Scar
The water of Ladthwaite Beck in Ewbank Scar
Looking down the scar
A fine perspective of Ewbank Scar
Out of the woods, the path follows the course of the beck around the toe of Birkett Hill to a farm at Ladthwaite. It doubles back on a tarmac road to a slightly misleading gate. The obvious route climbs along the right side of a wall and, on first inspection, looks like the way towards Nine Standards. Following this would actually lead you to back towards Ladthwaite. Instead, to the left of the wall is a rusty gate and an overgrown path which climbs to meet a more substantial track climbing the hillside. This is an old miner’s road, which terminates high on the slopes of Nine Standards Rigg.
High Out Wood
Ladthwaite Beck
Birkett Hill
The distant Pennines
Nine Standards Rigg
Following the track is easy and the gradient is gentle. A cool breeze was blowing some a couple of layers were required, even while climbing. At a fingerpost, the route to the summit is via a permissive path, marked by some instructions for would-be coast to coast walkers. Until now, the Nine Standards had been largely hidden but, approaching the top, they eventually eased into view.
Birkett Hill
Looking down the Nine Standards Rigg path
The path at Reigill
High Dukerdale
The Nine Standards appear on the horizon
Faraday Gill
A lone cairn
Nothing much is known about the Nine Standards. The nine dry stone cairns in their present form, give or take some restoration work over the years, are probably not much more than two hundred years old. There is some evidence to suggest the existence, before that, of nine marker-stones and the name Nine Standards appears on several maps from over four hundred years. It is possible that they marked the boundary between Westmorland and Swaledale.
The Nine Standards
Though the Nine Standards have the best all-round view, they are not actually on the very summit of the fell. This stands a few hundred metres beyond the toposcope and is marked by a trig pillar.
Five of the Nine Standards
The Nine Standards
The largest of the columns
A toposcope stands close by
The Nine Standards
Panorama from the toposcope
The trig pillar a short distance away
A boggy section of path leads away from Nine Standards Rigg to a some recently restored peat bogs, crossed via a series of large paving slabs where a marker board proudly highlights the excellent work that has been undertaken. White Mossy Hill, an unmarked summit on the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, stands a short distance away.
White Mossy Hill
The Yorkshire / Cumbria border
Newly constructed C2C signage
An area of restored peat
Nine Standards from White Mossy Hill
From White Mossy Hill, I decided to make my own way across the moor, first heading for an obvious cairn at Jack Standards. Instead of heading for the road from here (over a kilometre away), I took another direct route to the head of High Dukerdale where I found a quad bike track, though it came a little too late to save me from some damp feet - such is the joy of tramping over untouched Pennine moorland. From High Dukerdale, a vague path makes an easy climb to Tailbridge Hill.
High Seat stands over Lamps Moss
Panorama from Jack Standards
High Seat
Jack Standards
Coldbergh Scar
High Dukerdale
Nine Standards Rigg
The hill, a limestone escarpment, has an expansive view of the Eden Valley, including much of the Howgills and the vast southern edge of the high Pennines. I could easily make out the radar dome on Mickle Fell, glinting in the distant sunlight. It wasn't clear what the terrain was like leading off the hill so I followed a track which made its way to a parking area on the road before doubling back, following the road below the escarpment. Turns out a direct descent would have been steep but possible.
Cairn on Tailbridge Hill
The Eden Valley
The expansive Vale of Eden
Wild Boar Fell
View from Tailbridge Hill
The road below Tailbridge Hill
A long walk along a minor road is required on the return leg towards Kirkby Stephen, after the bogging hopping earlier in the day this was a welcome addition. You always make good time walking along a road and it wasn't long before I'd reached the small village of Nateby. Crossing the stream I made my way onto a path back towards Swingy Bridge, retracing the route back into Kirkby Stephen.
Middleber Sike
Wild Boar Fell
The final stretch of the walk saw me re-join my morning's route across Swingy Bridge and back into Kirkby Stephen, arriving in time to grab a coffee before hopping in the car and heading back to Leeds.

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