Make the most of May's National Walking Month with our local walk recommendations

Walks in the Cumbrian Dales to make the most of May's National Walking Month
Make the most of May's National Walking Month

May marks the start of the Living Streets National Walking Month which this year is adopting the hashtag #Try20 to encourage us all to walk for 20 minutes each day.

With that in mind and as our village of Ravenstonedale is perfectly nestled between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales we'd like to suggest these superb walks of varying lengths and level of challenge for guests to enjoy. In order to do this we've tapped into Richard’s insider knowledge. Richard is a qualified Mountain Leader, walking guide and regularly takes guests out to enjoy the best of our local area on foot.

Best 20-minute walk for the #Try20

Enjoy a quick 20-minute wander directly from our front door and discover the beautifully quiet and aptly named Paradise Tarn. You can sit and enjoy the herons as they stand watch and plenty of other birdlife. It’s such a relaxing spot that we find many guests wander down to the tarn every day during their stay with us.

A walk that makes the most of May

The cairns on Wild Boar Fell - a walk from The Green Cumbria
The cairns on Wild Boar Fell

Wild Boar Fell is a local classic and one of the finest hills in the area. With a mountainous feel this is a classic walk best enjoyed early in the day when you will hopefully capture a beautiful sunrise. Interestingly, the fell was home to the last wild boar to survive in England, hence the name.

An array of stone cairns on the east side of the plateau provide a superb lookout point with far reaching views.

There are several routes up but our suggestion is to park at Cotegill Bridge in the Mallerstang Valley and head up on open access land - although navigation skills are required.

A packed-with-interest walk to enthrall even the youngest family members

The walk to Smardale Gill is a wildlife haven
The viaduct at Smardale Gill which is a wildlife haven

One of our favourite walks is from Ravenstonedale into Smardale Gill following a low level and pretty flat route using a disused railway.

Smardale Gill is home to Smardale Viaduct and is a wonderfully varied nature reserve stretching from from Newbiggin almost as far as Kirkby Stephen.

Make a day of it by walking the route from our front door and discover a range of unusual plants in the grasslands along with bluebells, primrose and early purple orchid during the spring time.

Along the way you will cross the 14 arches of the super impressive viaduct which was built in 1861, you can have a paddle in Scandal Beck, enjoy a picnic and visit the lead mining remains and the lime kilns built into the hill side (which the kids will love climbing into!). A great walk for the whole family.

The Big Yomp – a full day’s hike to really stretch those legs

Walking in the Howgill Fells
Fabulous hikes in the Howgill Fells

How about a full day out in the fabulous Howgill Fells. Rounded grassy hills, deep valleys and high ridges. This walk starts at the Cross Keys Inn (about 10 mins drive), a unique pub as it’s the only one in England without an alcohol licence, and passes through the site of an Iron Age settlement before rising steeply alongside the impressive Cautley Spout waterfall.

Once you reach the top the falls, walk south above Cautley Crag to visit the wonderfully named Great Dummacks before sweeping round to reach the tops of Calders, Bram Rigg Top and The Calf, the highest summit in the Howgills at 676m.

Beyond there drop into Bowderdale before a steep pull up onto Yarlside, your final summit of the day. Reflect on your day with a pint (of Coke!) back at the pub!

A walk through history

Fell End and Stennerskeugh Clouds. “The Clouds” are a rocky outcrop on the flanks of Wild Boar Fell, with limestone pavements that date back 350 million years.

This is a fascinating geological area, with industrial history of lead mining too. With wonderful views of the Eden Valley, North Pennines and Lake District this is not a walk to be rushed. Take your time and enjoy this wonderful landscape.

Shhh – our personal favourite

The Settle Carlisle railway at Kirkby Stephen
Hop on the train at Kirkby Stephen before starting a superb walk through the Mallerstang valley

This has to be the high-level walk along the full length of the Mallerstang Valley. On a clear day there are superb views in abundance on this fabulous walk. This is a linear traverse which can be enjoyed by getting the train one-stop south from Kirkby Stephen to Garsdale Head on the Settle to Carlisle Railway and then walking back to Kirkby Stephen on the East side of the valley.

The route is around 16 miles following the high-level ridge of Mallerstang Edge, taking in several summits including Hugh Seat, Gregory Chapel, High Seat and Nine Standards Rigg.

Whatever walk you do from here, you'll find peace and quiet, history, wildlife, fun and friendly locals - what's not to love!

Updated: Apr 19

why Ravenstonedale is An Ideal Cumbrian holiday location

The attractions of staying in the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales are well known but if you’re looking to find their quieter spots this year, then we think we have the perfect answer here in the Lune and Eden Valleys on the Eastern flank of Cumbria.

Why? Well here in Ravenstonedale we’re neatly positioned between the Lakes and the Dales, within easy reach of both; and yet we’re jam packed with lots of things to do right on the doorstep and with a fraction of the visitors.

Many people’s experience of our patch is limited to the fleeting glimpses of the Howgill Fells from the car window as they zoom by on their way North or South along the M6, but they’re missing out on a treat by not discovering more about this fantastic area. Here are a few reasons why:

· Walking through the “Squatting Elephants”

The local hills here are called the Howgill Fells and with their rounded humpback shapes, legendary hiker Alfred Wainwright affectionately referred to them looking like ‘a huddle of squatting elephants’.

While you’re likely to be joined by other walkers on popular peaks in the Lakes and Dales such as Helvellyn or Pen-y-ghent, here you’re more likely to encounter sheep and wild fell ponies.

Try ascending The Calf which stands a smidgeon over 2,000 feet; or hike to the mysterious Nine Standards Rigg, so-called because of the line of impressive stone cairns on the summit.

If you’re still keen to bag a Wainwright peak, then we’re less than three quarters of an hour away from the Lakeland Fells around Ullswater.

· The Passion For Food

There’s a real sense of pride around here for producing good food using local ingredients.

Within walking distance of The Green we have a handful of lovely pubs including The Black Swan in our own village of Ravenstonedale and The Fat Lamb. In nearby Sedbergh there’s the acclaimed Black Bull hotel serving Asian-fusion dishes which have made food critics swoon and the Thirsty Rambler, a dog-friendly micro bar that often has live music and gin club nights once a month.

Farmers’ markets are held in nearby market towns such as Brough, Orton and Kirkby Stephen where you can pick up a veritable feast, from artisan baked loaves and pies to home-reared venison and local cheeses.

Or if you have a soft spot for marmalade there’s the World Marmalade Awards and Festival in May where you can savour the breakfast treat while enjoying a day out in the historic surroundings of Dalemain mansion near Penrith.

· Historical Days Out

We have our fair share of heritage whether it’s Lowther Castle near Penrith, Brough Castle standing sentry-like on the site of a Roman Fort or the ruins of Pendragon Castle in Mallerstangdale which swirls with legends of King Arthur and a knight who killed Thomas Le Beckett.

Sedbergh’s Castle Haw Tower is a fine example of a Motte and Bailey Castle that has great views and it’s also worth downloading the series of heritage trails for nearby towns such as Kirkby Stephen and Appleby.

· Waterside Delights

We might not have the huge expanses of water of the Lake District but we still have some very special waterways. So why not leave the likes of Aira Force waterfall on Ullswater to the crowds and instead head to Cautley Spout, England’s highest above-ground waterfall via a short stroll from the centuries-old Cross Keys Inn.

Alternatively picnic at one of the sprinkling of tarns in the surrounding hills including the beautifully quiet Paradise Tarn, just a short walk from The Green, where you can sit and enjoy the herons as they stand watch!

A true delight is the Poetry Path along the River Eden from Kirkby Stephen where you can find 12 poems carved into stones at intervals along the riverside, all of them dedicated to the hill farmers’ relationship with the landscape around the Upper Eden Valley.

· Wildlife and Space

Our wide open spaces and quietness provide a fantastic haven for nature and are ideal for letting the children go ‘free range’. In and around The Green we regularly see red squirrels and fell ponies and there’s a real sense of seclusion in the hills and valleys.

For wild flowers and butterflies there’s Waitby Greenriggs Nature Reserve in the cuttings of the old railway line while a visit to Sunbiggin Tarn with its views across to Wild Boar Fell has to be a must for anybody interested in migratory and resident birdlife!