LEJOG Virtual Challenge: Mile Marker 636.8, Cumbria

It was a cold and snowy February here in Chicago so not much mileage was had either by walking or cycling. Just a few one to two mile jaunts here and there so that kept me virtually in the Yorkshire Dales for some time. Not a bad place to be even if only in your head and online! But the weather has finally warmed up a bit and I was able to get a good 12 mile bike ride in the other day as I was doing some errands. This has put me now in Cumbria on my challenge. Below is the street view from Google maps. Quite a lovely place to daydream about I’d say.

If you were to zoom in on the map, you’d see I was a hop, skip and a jump away from Stay Lambing Live self catoring cottage on a working sheep farm that was featured in the BBC series Lambing Live. And if I were truely cycling up the A683, which looks like it would be a very hilly and probably windy ride, a few days relaxing here in a wood fired hot tub next to the cottage sounds about perfect. You can also help out on the farm to get an idea of farming in the fells is like on a daily basis.

Let’s Explore

The area surrounding us is known as the Eden Valley. The Pennines are to the east, the Lake District to the West and the Yorkshire Dales is now south of us. The River Eden flows entirely in Cunbria and one a the few larger rivers that flows northward. The closest town to the cottage is the small market village of Kirkby Stephens which fortunately also has a railway station just outside of town which makes it easy to take day trips to to other parts if one isn’t traveling by car. The village can also be a stop on the long distant Coast to Coast Path that runs from St Bees on the coast of West Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay and the coast of North York Moors National Park. (Side note: I stayed over night at a lovely hostel in Robin Hood’s Bay during my small excursion to Whitby during our 2019 trip).

History and Viking buffs will want to visit Kirkby Stephen’s Parish Church which houses many ancient relics including the Loki Stone, or Bound Devil, and is said to represent the Norse God Loki; which if a Marvel Comics Avengers fan, everyone knows this was a god up to no good. The Loki Stone is only one of two to have been found in Europe.

Loki Stone. Copyright Karl and Ali and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Another historic place with a good story is the ruins of Pendragon Castle. If that name sounds familiar it is because Uther Pendragon was the father of King Arthur. It is said that this is where Uther and his men were killed when those dastardly Saxons poisoned the drinking well.

Pendragon Castle. Copyright David Medcalf and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

For the nature lover there is plenty of good walking in the areas fells (hills). If up for a full day challenge, you can try the the 13 mile loop to Wild Boar Fell, site of the last wild boars to have been seen in England. For a more gentle, romantic walk, one can stroll along the Poetry Path along the River Eden to read 12 poems carved in stone slabs that describe a year in the life of a hill farmer.

Overlooking Wild Boar Fell. Copyright Roger Templeman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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