This is a six-mile circular walk around Glaisdale – the easternmost of the beautiful and tranquil extensions of Eskdale.
I started from Glaisdale Station on a fabulously warm day and was positively assaulted by springtime throughout a walk which comes in the category of “highly recommended” (by me).
Head up the hill and turn right onto the back road at the Arncliffe Arms, nodding agreeably at the “open all day, every day” sign.
A rookery high in the treetops assailed me with noise as the occupants repaired the eaves and dusted the windowsills in last year’s nests, and a local cat smirked knowingly at me as I began the surprisingly steep climb up to the village centre.
Turn right on the main road, and go through a gate in the wall opposite the butcher’s shop.
Head right, then uphill and left after the cattle grid. The gradient soon eases as the tarmac fizzles out into a rough track before passing through a gate onto open moorland and curving left past a large pond.
At this point I was stopped in my tracks by a cacophony of quacking, and I searched in vain for broods of mallards in the reeds.
Nature is quite adept at making me look stupid and it took a while for me to realise that the noise was in fact being created by a small army of frogs – literally hundreds of them scuttling around in a pleasingly captivating manner.
Head on up the rigg, and as the path forks, take the left prong – behind a wooden swing gate.
As this grassy track heads slowly downhill, fabulous views of Glaisdale open up ahead.
There is a through road in the dale, but it is so steep as it soars skywards at the end of the dale, you’d end up in Denmark if your brakes failed. Accordingly, the valley is quiet and serene and great for walking.
With skylarks chattering and lapwings swooping, carry on more steeply downwards past a disused quarry. Go left over an ancient stone bridge – presumably for the old rail or road access to the quarry – then very quickly right and continue to descend next to a wall. two yapping dogs in the adjacent farm will confirm that you are on the right track.
A hundred yards before reaching the road, go left through an iron gate into the churchyard of Glaisdale Methodist Church. 19th Century headstones – perhaps in memory of somebody who worked in those old quarries – indicate that living into your 80s is not the modern concept that we think it is.
Head right along the road – illuminated on my visit by a fantastic daffodil display – and after a minute or so a signposted path runs down through some trees and over a stile before going diagonally to Plum Tree Farm.
Immediately behind that stile, I was confronted with spring once again as I almost trod on a ewe that had just – and I mean just – given birth to twin lambs.
It looked me up and down and gave me a stern look as if to say “I’m kinda busy, pal. So do one.” (I humbly deferred and went the long way round to the farm).
Walk through the centre of the farmyard, then onwards across the dale to a footbridge over Glaisdale Beck.
A hundred yards after the bridge, go through the left of two gates, panic at the sight of 200 newly hatched bumble bees, then go uphill through two more gates to Low Gill Beck Farm.
Turn left along the road, then quickly right at a footpath sign. The path curves left past three old gateposts, then through a gate in a ramshackle wall. Slightly downhill now to a stone stile, then immediately left through a wooden gate and sharp right along the wall to cross two more stiles.
Stay on the same level through two unmarked gates, then straight on towards Bank House Farm.
I was startled to see three heads poking out of the skylight here and it reminded me of an Orwellesque farm in upper Teesdale where I was scrutinized for some time by a sheep – from an upstairs bedroom window.
Nothing so bizarre here though – one of these heads was owner Emma Padmore who was showing two friends the new Bunkhouse conversion.
She was kind enough to give me a tour, and as well as looking excellent, Emma crucially confirmed that she was hoping to make arrangements to transport guests to and from the pub in the evening.
Our path continues straight on through a waymarked gate and soon enters woodland.
Emerge through a gate, cross a clearing to a second gate, then over to a wooden shed.
Turn left on the track behind the shed, and instead of following it left to head back up the dale, go slightly right and downhill to a marked gate.
From here, keep heading down hill and you’ll see a footbridge over the beck, leading to a track that winds upwards for half a mile.
Go left through a gate, heading towards the buildings on the Daleside, then right (before the stile ahead) to another marked stile 100 yards away.
With the aid of a ladder stile and gate on either side of the access road, pass Hart Hall on your right.
Fifty yards into the next field, go right through a gate, then through a stand of seven or eight trees ahead of you and finally go downhill to the next ridge where you’ll see an opening back onto the road that drops down to Glaisdale Station – and that “open all day, every day sign”.