Orton-Kirkby Stephen (12.5 miles, 5-6 hours). This was the last day of our trip (for the moment- we hope to come back and complete the eastern section of the C2C next year). The weather forecast was for sunny intervals, with perhaps a low risk of showers. We were joined by our friend Sarah on this last day's walking, as she lives near Kirkby Stephen, and we stayed with her for the last two nights of our trip. As on Day 6, starting in Orton is actually a diversion off the 'official' Wainwright route (if there is one), so we started the day with an easy walk across fields from Orton to re-join the C2C path at Scarside. There are pleasant views back to Orton.
More easy walking across fields and a country lane brings you to the small hamlet of Sunbiggin, where we were not made welcome by a rather aggressive border terrier.
After Sunbiggin, the path crosses Ravenstonedale Moor and the lower reaches of Crosby Garrett Fell, before dropping down to the scenic highlight of the day, Smardale.
There is an 18th Century packhorse bridge that carries you over Smardale Beck, and to the north, the Smardale Gill Viaduct is visible - this carried a now disused railway line south from Kirkby Stephen, but is now used as a footpath for the Smardale Gill nature reserve.
We were now well and truly into the 'home strait' of our walk - climbing out of Smardale, there are mounds visible on the right, known locally as 'Gaint's graves', but in reality are more likely to be man-made rabbit burrows, to provide food for ancient settlements around Smardale Fell. The path climbs gently across Smardale Fell, then starts to drop down into Kirkby Stephen, with views of Nine Standards Rigg in the distance. After passing under the Settle-Carlisle railway line, it is a short walk to the 'finish line' of the western section of the C2C
So, we had made it - a bit weary and sore-footed, but with a nice feeling of achievement - it had been very enjoyable, with great scenery, mostly good food and accommodation and some nice people along the way. We'll hopefully be back next year to carry on further east towards Robins' Hood Bay.
Peter and Lorraine, owners of Ty Uchaf since 2011. We will post occasionally items that may be of interest to our guests, past, present and future !