The walk at Smardale Gill will take you up on to the moors before returning via the old railway line, alongside Scandal Beck. The walk is very pleasant but becomes better as the track passes under the viaduct.
Only a few miles from Kirkby Stephen lies Scandal Beck and the magnificent Smardale Viaduct which lies on the old NER mainline. The viaduct is spectacular, over 90 feet high and comprising of fourteen powerful stone arches. Fortunately the walking is straightforward along the disused track bed. However the lower alternative alongside Scandal Beck is glorious. Here you are surrounded by vibrant rare flora, birds and butterflies all set amidst the lovely trees and grasslands (access to the valley floor is for permit holders only). Smardale Gill National Nature Reserve and Scandal Beck are well managed by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust and is rich in wild flowers. I am led to believe that bird’s eye primrose, bloody cranes bill and melancholy thistle are just some of the rare flowers I may have seen.
The walk starts from Crosby Garrett, an attractive village on the edge of the moors. Climb gradually on to the moors from the village and enjoy the ever improving views. However if you are after the best views leave the path and visit the trig point on Nettle Hill. From here drop down to Bents Farm and enter the Scandal Beck valley at Smardale Bridge.
If you are on the Coast to Coast this is a detour that is certainly worth making. It is a hidden gem I certainly passed without a second glance.
Follow the path over the moors past Bents all the way to Brownber Farm. From here take the lane east via Friars Farm to meet the old railway just beyond Smardale Bridge.
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