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Kirkby Stephen walk
This very gentle undulating stroll leads through heavenly countryside as befits the name of Eden Valley.
It leads under, over, through and across majestic bridges, follows footpaths along river banks and along the route of a railway line closed for more than 40 years. Add to this the chance to visit a magnificent old church and views across lush countryside with the haunting ruins of a 14th century pele tower and you have the perfect walk.
Start at the Market Square at the Cloisters. These were built in 1810 and financed by a local lad made good. John Waller was a naval purser and his intention was to provide a shelter for churchgoers and market traders and it became famous as a butter market.
Pass through the cloisters to the church of St Stephen, which has Saxon origins but the present structure is mainly Norman. It is of huge proportion and is rightly know as the Cathedral of the Dales.
To the right of the church path is the Trupp Stone, a flat structure on which tithes were paid until 1836. Inside the church is the famous Loki Stone, which is carved with Anglo-Danish symbols, the only one of its kind in Britain and to be found in Europe.
Return through the cloisters and turn left. Pass the public toilets and a small free car park on the right.
Descend the narrow winding road and follow the obvious sign down a flight of steps to Frank’s Bridge. This is said to be named after Francis Birkbeck, who was a wealthy brewer in the early years of the 19th century. To the right of this footbridge is a pleasant little cottage renovated in 2005. Cross the bridge and turn right along a riverside footpath with the Eden on the right and lots of seats on the left. Follow the footpath keeping right at all times and pass through a woodland.
Turn right and descend to the river, which is crossed by an elevated footbridge. Turn left at this point. The river is now on the left. Follow an obvious track through mature woodland. The path then sweeps uphill and right and approaches Stenkrith Bridge.
Pass over the bridge and turn sharp left for the next 1.5 miles. The route now follows the dismantled track of the old railway. This was begun in 1857 and was once the main line linking Darlington with the iron ore mines of North Lancashire. The line was closed in 1962.
Leave the old railway track by turning left at the famous Podgill Viaduct.. From Podgill follow a footpath which is very clearly marked.
Pass under a double bridge and ascend an embankment, Look to right to see the site of the pele tower at Harhey, built in the 14th century as a defence against the invading Scots.
The path veers right and then right over the footbridge crossed at point 3. Turn left and return to Frank's Bridge and on to the starting point.
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