Top 10 Walks in the Eden Valley

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The Eden Valley is the definition of a hidden gem. Whilst its Lake District neighbour is favoured by many for its wealth of impressive fells and tourist attractions, this beautiful area is mostly left for the locals to enjoy its diverse scenery and wildlife. Lucky them! Whether you’re looking for a leisurely woodland stroll or a challenging hike with panoramic views of the Pennines and the Lakes, there’s something for all walking abilities.

Please note: While we have given a brief outline of each walk, this is not detailed guide - please make sure you take a map and/or guide on your travels! Many of these walks are featured in Walking in Cumbria’s Eden Valley by Vivienne Crow, an informative and well-written guide which is available from local bookshops or online.

Inspired by our Eden Valley blog? Have a look at our available cottages in the area.

Wild Boar Fell

Wild Boar Fell in the Eden ValleyStart: Garside railway station (SD 788 917)
Finish: Kirkby Stephen railway station
Difficulty: Hard
Maps: OS Explorer OL19
Distance: 12 ¼  miles
Time: 7 hours

Starting at Garside, a remote station on the famous Settle to Carlisle railway line, this route takes ramblers on a wild walk through fields, open moor and bogs, so be prepared to get muddy! This is a challenging walk with steep inclines up to Swarth Fell Pike and Wild Boar Fell towards a line of tall cairns at its eastern edge. The rewards come in the shape of unbeatable views of the Howgills, North Pennines and the Lake District.

Cumbrian legend states that Wild Boar Fell was the site of the last wild boar killing carried out by Sir Richard de Musgrave, resident of Hartley Castle. While you’re not likely to encounter any wild pigs here, keep an eye out for wonderfully majestic fell ponies which often roam the area!

Aira Force and Gowbarrow Trail

Aira Force waterfall near UllswaterStart/Finish: Aira Force National Trust car park (NY 400 200)
Difficulty: Moderate
Map: OS Explorer OL5
Distance: 4.5 miles
Time: 2-3 hours

Located 10 miles south of Penrith, this is technically a Lake District walk. However, Aira Force is a lovely area to visit if you’re in the Eden area. Popular with families and dog walkers due to its fairly easy terrain through woodland and evergreens, walkers are greeted by the distinctive roar of the impressive 65-foot waterfall.

Most visitors return to their car after checking out the waterfall. For a bit more of a challenge, head towards Gowbarrow Fell for a circular walk. You’ll be glad you did, as the summit offers views of Helvellyn and Blencathra from the north west, as well as the Pennines from the north east.  Say hello to the Herwicks on your way!

Read more about Aira Force in our previous blog.

Wetheral

The River Eden in CumbriaStart/Finish: Wetheral Parish Church (NY 468 543)
Distance: 4 ½ miles
Difficulty: Easy
Map: OS Explorer 315
Time: 2 hours

A lovely, easy walk with plenty to see – perfect if you just fancy a potter about. This route starts in Wetheral, located just outside Carlisle. This is a village steeped in history and home to Benedictine ruins and an 11th century castle.

The walk meanders through National Trust woodland and red sandstone caves before following the banks of the River Eden towards the impressive Corby Castle with its classical façade, thought to have been originally built in the middle ages. Finish off this leisurely stroll with a drink in the cosy Wheatsheaf Inn, affectionately termed ‘Wheaty’. A perfect afternoon!

Great Asby Scar

Howgill Fells in the Eden ValleyStart/Finish: Market Hall in Orton Village
Distance: 8 ¾ miles
Difficulty: Moderately easy
Map: OS Explorer 19
Time: 4-5 hours

Like its Lake District neighbour, the Eden Valley has a fascinating geological history dating back millions of years. One example is the vast limestone pavement on Great Asby Scar, an area of high ground located between the villages of Orton and Great Asby. It’s also home to an array of different bird species as well as rare plants. A special place indeed!

This is a relatively easy route through fields and quiet lanes, which at one point joins the famous Wainwright coast to coast walk. The views are vast and impressive, taking in the Howgills, the North Pennines and the Lake District.

Kirkoswald and Raven Beck

Kirkoswald market cross in the Eden ValleyStart/Finish: Market cross in Kirkoswald (NY 554 412)
Distance 6 ¼ miles
Difficulty: Easy
Map: OS Explorer OL5
Time 2 ¾ hours

A perfectly peaceful walk for all abilities, this is a great one if you prefer an easy going walk or just want something gentler after stomping across all those fells! Start in the village of Kirkoswald and make your way through quiet woodlands, alongside Raven Beck and country paths.

You’ll still get to see some great views of the surrounding fells, with the Pennines nearby and even the outline of Blencathra in the distance. On your return to Kirkoswald, why not check out the Featherstone Arms, famous for its annual beer, cider and music festival?

Speaking of beer - if you’re a fan of Cumbrian ales, have a look at our guide to Lake District breweries.

Talkin Tarn and the Gelt

The River Gelt in AutumnStart/Finish: Talkin tarn car park (NY 543 590)
Distance: 7 ¾ miles
Difficulty: Easy
Map: OS Explorer 315
Time: 4 ½ hours

Talkin Tarn is a popular area of beauty situated near Carlisle and consisting of a glacial lake and acres of ancient woodland. Frequented by families and dog walkers, it can become very busy at weekends and during the holidays, so if you prefer to avoid the crowds its best to visit through the week and during term-time.

This route goes deep into the woodland before opening up onto rural paths and fields that follow the River Gelt, passing the imposing Gelt Bridge Viaduct. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including squirrels, roe deer and birds such as kingfishers and dippers. If you’re not so lucky to see them, there’s plenty of ducks to feed on your return to the lake!

Cross Fell

Start/finish: Parish council notice boards in Blencarn (NY 638 312)
Distance: 10 ¼ miles
Grade: Hard
Map: OS Explorer OL31
Time: 5 ¼ hours

The big one! At 893 metres, Cross Fell is the highest point in the Pennines, providing views of the Lake District as well as the west and east coast. The landscape is wild with even wilder weather; the fell spends much of its time covered in snow, so make sure you’re layered up! Fog and windy conditions also mean this walk is best saved for days with good weather.

This is one of the shorter routes up Cross Fell, following mostly clear tracks both on the ascent and descent. Passing the village of Kirkland, keep an eye out for the Hanging Walls of Mark Anthony, three low cultivation terraces that are believed to date back to 1600 BCE.

Knipescar Common and River Lowther

River Lowther in the Eden ValleyStart/finish: Bampton Memorial Hall (NY 516 181)
Distance: 5 ¼ miles
Difficulty: Moderately easy
Map: OS Explorer OL5
Time 2 ½ hours

Classed as one of Alfred Wainwright’s ‘outlying fells’, Kinipescar Common is an unfrequented area covered in limestone. This route ventures into the Lake District so that you get the best of both worlds, following the River Lowther through quiet paths and historical sites such as St Patrick’s Church and Shap Abbey (which requires a slight detour).

A tip for nature lovers: at dawn or dusk wildlife such as deer, badgers and otters may emerge along the river route.

If you enjoy exploring historical churches, check out our previous blog about churches in the Lake District.

Dufton Pike

Start: Dufton Village Green, near Appleby, parking available nearby (NY 689 249)
Distance: 4 ¾ miles
Difficulty: Moderately easy
Map: OL Explorer 19
Time: 3 hours

Dufton Pike looms over its namesake village like a pyramid, but it’s not as high as it appears. The climb is straightforward: a short, steep climb which, once you’ve caught your breath, rewards walkers with views of the Eden Valley and the Lake District in the far distance. 

Be sure to spend some time in the charming red sandstone village of Duffton, particularly at the lovely Post Box Pantry, a quaint little tea room where you can refuel with a cuppa and cake.

Kirkby Stephen to Appleby

Appleby in the Eden ValleyStart: Kirkby Stephen Railway Station (NY 761 067)
Finish: Appleby Railway Station (NY 686 206)
Distance: 15 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Map: OS Explorer OL19
Time: 2 ½ hours

The longest walk in this list, but certainly not the most difficult. This route will appeal to railway enthusiasts, as it takes in the Settle to Carlisle Railway and its stations at Kirkby Stephen and Appleby.

Passing through quiet meadowland and field paths, your peace may be temporarily interrupted by the sound of distant gunfire from nearby Warcop, a Military of Defence training area. The path then meanders through woodland, following the River Eden until you reach Appleby, a historic market town. You’ll no doubt have tired legs, so take advantage of one of the many pubs or cafes in the town!

 

If you're now raring to explore the beautiful Eden Valley, don't forget to explore our cottages in the area.

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