Day 2: Cautley & Garsdale
On a morning of dubious meteorological promise, we drove out of Sedbergh on the A683 towards Kirkby Stephen, parking by the Cross Keys Temperance Inn. Just in case you hadn’t grasped the full import of that statement, that’s a pub that doesn’t serve alcohol.
For the record, I have been in a pub without beer once before, when the previous (and soon to be redundant) landlord of our local forgot to order any. Several disgruntled customers made it known exactly what they thought of that. But that’s another story: this particular establishment owes its peculiar circumstance to a close association with the Quaker movement and a bequest to the National Trust to whom it was left in 1949.
From the lay-by we crossed the footbridge over the River Rawthay and turned north heading for Narthwaite. Recent rain had left things damp underfoot: damper still when fording Backside Beck where the greasy stones provided little traction.
Beyond Narthwaite we first followed a clear track before cutting across fields to a wood and a second river crossing. A bridle path then led through the wood, out onto the fellside aiming for the farm at Murthwaite.
We picked up a tricky-to-find-at-first path towards the main road near Bridge Cottages, through fields liberally sprinkled with Buttercups.
Our return route began from Rawthay Bridge. Next weekend is the Appleby Horse Fair, and many of the roads hereabouts are busy with Travellers slowly wending their way northwards in horse-drawn caravans or ancient lorries. We skirted a camp at a polite distance and climbed a clear, peaty track on to the lower slopes of West Baugh Fell. From here Cautley Spout and its amphitheatre bounded by Cautley Crag made for impressive views.
Soon the track started to descend past Bluecaster Side towards the A683 again at Wardses.
On reaching the road we took the track opposite. As we passed Cautley Thwaite, dozens of Swallows and House Martins treated us to an aerial display, whirling round our heads and filling the air with shrill cries.
Finally, we crossed the bridge over Cautley Holme Beck and made our way back to the car.
Later, in the afternoon, we parked near Garsdale Station and followed a short stretch of the recently opened Pennine Bridleway (PBW) – a new National Trail for cyclists and horse riders as well as walkers that parallels the Pennine Way over generally easier, lower ground. We were doing a bit of a recce for a future trip we are planning, as this section – of newly created path not previously marked on the maps – might prove a useful link.