Distance: 12.4 miles
Just as we were leaving the village of Kirkby Stephen a large herd of sheep descended upon us. They were controlled primarily by three brilliant border collies, followed by two men on 4x4s. It was a pleasure to watch. (Full disclosure: I had left my border collie, Panda, at home in California – she often hikes with me in the California Sierras.)
At one point, as I turned around to look at the distant hills behind us, the Nine Standards could be seen on the far ridge. If I had not known about them, I don’t think that I would have spotted the nine small dots on the horizon.
As I climbed yet another stile, I wondered how many I had climbed by that time. The remainder of the trip would have at least a couple hundred more.
The C2C path then led us to Smardale Bridge on Smardale Fell, in the center of a prehistoric settlement, Severals Village. This village had existed on the hillsides at this crossroad of a stream and a road. The site has not yet been excavated, but is thought to be one of the most significant archeological finds in England.
We entered an area near Orton Scar with a multitude of stone fences which defined sheep pastures. The countryside was dotted with sheep, barns and wildflowers.
One mile from Orton we came upon the prehistoric Gamelands Stone Circle. One of the largest stone circles in Cumbria, artifacts have been found in the area dating to between 1800 and 1400 BC. Unfortunately, the stones have been knocked over and several were entirely removed by farmers over the past 100 years.
Carrying on to Orton, we were joined by three loose ponies who were very friendly.
I soon arrived at my B&B for the night, the Barn House, a beautiful B&B in the countryside on the outskirts of Orton; they even put chocolates on the pillows! I was immediately seated and presented with a cup of tea and cakes by my host, Lillian. (I really do enjoy this lovely tradition of afternoon tea!) A couple from the French Alps, having just hiked the Lake District, were also staying there with friends and joined me for tea.
I walked into Orton to meet my new hiking friends from Vermont and to do a little sightseeing. Orton was celebrating the Scarecrow Festival, which explained the many scarecrows we saw placed around the village. In the 14th-century farmers used children to scare away the birds from the crops, however, due to the plague of 1348 there were not enough children to carry out the task. Instead, farmers replaced the children with decorated stick figures to do this job, hence “scarecrows”.
The All Saints Church in Orton dates back to the 12th-century. The bell tower was added in the 16th-century.
We were directed to the George Hotel‘s restaurant, where we were joined by other guests from our B&B for an evening of good food and laughter, sharing trail stories.