Ravenstonedale and Smardale Trail

This walk is replicated from the Eden Rivers Trust site and the link to their PDF is below.

A walk with two nature reserves, three pubs, an ancient church and priory, a flower rich meadow, a meandering beck, Giants’ Graves and a railway viaduct.

Ravenstonedale and Smardale walk

Distance: 7 1/2 miles | 12km | 3-4 hours

Parking – space in front of Ravenstonedale School

The Route can be walked in two halves – north and south of the village.

Route: Ravenstonedale (south) > Fat Lamb Hotel > Ravenstonedale (north) > Smardale Bridge > Smardale Viaduct > Ravenstonedale


Ravenstonedale and Smardale Walk is a 7 mile loop trail located near Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips.

Visitors can park their cars on the triangular car park next to the village school.

Southern Ravenstonedale and full length route

Walk along the road from the school into the village to the corner past the Black Swan, turn right up the main street.  Half way up the hill, take the footpath through the stone step-stile on the left, signposted to Lockholme Head.  At the top of the grass slope, go through the metal kissing gate and then straight ahead with the wall on your left.  Go through a gated wall-stile and then, bearing slightly diagonally to the right, proceed across five fields with gated stone wall-stiles.

Continue over a step stile, a wall stile and another step stile then bear sharply right through a gated stile onto the tarmac lane.  Cross the lane and the stile opposite, then bear left across the next field and over a step stile into a meadow. (farm Piper Hole).  Carry on with the trees and fence on your rights, cross two more gated stiles, then turn right onto a tarmac track over a concrete bridge and after 45 metres turn left through another stile.

Proceed across this odd shaped field over a bridge in the middle, passing to the left of the farm house and going through the gated stiles on both sides of the farm track.  Bear slightly right and continue over another stile, following the wall on your right to the barn, then bear right along the farm track, past Lockholme Hall, then left over a wooden stile and carry on with the hedge on your left and the wall on your right.

Go through the little gate and straight on to the next house, which is Lockholme Head, keeping close to the wall on your right.

When you get to the far side of the field, DO NOT go through the wall stile.

At this stile turn sharp left, staying in this field, and follow the path with the wall on your right.  Go through the field gate and over the sleeper bridge.  The public path contines ahead, but our route turns right along a permissive path where a footbridge half way along provides access to the Crossbank Nature Reserve.

From the reserve, the path proceeds along through a field gate and then round to the left up the steep hill to the bird hide.

From the bird hide, go through the kissing gate and straight on to the edge of the private garden, where you turn sharp right along the narrow footpath behind the house.  This brings you out past the large garage on your left to the back of the Fat Lamb where you bear laft and then left again along the road.

After about half a kilometre along the road, turn right through a gate, signposted to Bowber Head and Ravenstonedale. Cross the field, go over the stile and keep to the wall on your right to the corner.  Go through the pedestrian gate, down the slope keeping alongside the hedge and trees, cross over two footbridges and pass to the left of the barn.  Cross the beck – Scandal Beck – on the stone slabs and over the wall-stile.

The remainder of the route follows the course of the beck back to the village and beyond to Smardale Viaduct.

Go straight ahead with the wall on your left.  Turn left over the footbridge, through the gates stile and cross diagonally to the far corner of the field and a gates stile beneath a tree.  You then walk ahead, separated from Scandal beck by a section of fence, wall and hedge.  Go through a pedestrian gate in a new hedge, over three wall-stiles in quick succession, then four further wall stiles, the last of which brings you into an old tree lined lonning.  Turn right over a footbridge, then left along the lane.

Then follow the Northern Smardale route below.

Northern Smardale route

From the car park walk down the road past St Oswald’s church on the left, over the stream and turn right at the road junction. About 100 yards on the left is a stile with signpost. Climb the stile and cross the field diagonally right to a second stile that leads onto the A685.  Cross the road with great care.  Across the road is another stile with signpost that leads into Smardale. The track from here is easily followed.

Follow the track through a field gate, past a small stone barn and proceed on the track until it curves away into a field on the right, where you go straight on to the gate of the far left corner of the conifer plantation.  Continue ahead across this large field, slightly bearing right but keeping below where the ground rises steeply on your right.  Go over the wall stile to the left of the gate.  Bear left diagonally across the slope and aim for the bottom of the old quarry ahead, across a small steeper bridge with Sandal Beck down to our left meandering toward Smardale Bridge.

Go through the gate in the wall, which brings you onto a track just over to the right of Smardale Bridge.  Turn right up the wide track.

Look out for a step stile over to your left and cross to the other side of the wall.  Turn right and follow a narrow trod through a series of old quarries.  Cross another step stile in the fence corner and continue toward the viaduct.  A step stile brings you out onto the old railway line where you turn left and go over the viaduct.

Carry on along the old railway past disused lime kilns until you go under a stone bridge where you turn immediately left up some steps.

Cross over a step stile, turn right and follow the fence line until the boundary becomes a stone wall.  Now bear left directly downhill to Smardale Bridge.   At Smardale Bridge, turn right along the track and then left up the bank and through the wall stile.

Continue up the slope, heading toward the left hand end of the conifer plantation.  Go through a gap in an earth bank and then keep the bank alongside on your right.

Carry on with the conifer plantation on your right and a naturally regenerated woodland fenced off on your left.  Go over a step stile by a field gate and keep straight on across a big field, bearing slightly right to descent a steep track bearing left down to a wall stile.  Cross the stile, over a ditch and up the next slope to a farm track.  Follow the farm track for a short distance and bear left down to a pedestrian gate in a wall through which you emerge onto another farm track.  Turn right, then left past the little building with the chimney.  Go through the field gate, then left through another pedestrian gate and follow the path with the beck alongside on your left.  Ignore the metal bridge and turn right through a field gate, then left through the underpass below the main road.  Continue on a wide track between some cottages and out onto the road opposite the Kings Head pub.  There is a footpath to the left of the pub which takes you through the churchyard and back to the school to conclude your walk.

For more information on this walk please see EDEN RIVERS TRUST. To download their leaflet on this walk with additional information on things to look out for, please SEE HERE