A Poor Path Diversion at Wharton Hall

It’s a year or two since we last walked from Kirkby Stephen to Wharton Hall – a ramble that features in a lot of guidebooks and online sites. And since our last walk that way, I see that the bridleway that used to run up the drive to Wharton Hall has been diverted.

Franks Bridge

I have to say, the diversion is not one I would have agreed when I was a Ramblers footpath secretary. The old path ran straight up the drive, the new version takes you all round the farm buildings, is longer and nowhere near as commodious.

A Loki waymark – the ancient statue is in Kirkby Stephen Church

As you could walk much of the new diversion anyway, as 80% of it is an existing bridleway, this almost qualifies as a path closure. And anyone coming to the place for the first time would just see a “No Right of Way” sign, with little indication as to where the new diversion went, apart from one rickety fingerpost giving no indication it offers an alternative route.

A barn along the way

Admittedly, the original ran through the Wharton Hall farmyard, but only on the very wide drive leading to Wharton Hall and not between the farm buildings. A route that has been used by travellers for centuries and on an old droving route as well.

Path to Nateby

So you can still do the walk, but the Wharton Hall section is nowhere near as attractive or convenient.

That being said, the walk out from Kirkby Stephen is still worth well doing. First down to Franks Bridge, then along the River Eden to Nateby, before crossing the Eden again up to the driveway of Wharton Hall.

River Eden

After looking at the appalling diversion, we followed the hall drive down to Halfpenny Cottage, a relatively modern building on the site of the place where drovers were once wont to stay the night – hence the halfpenny: that was the cost.

Water eroded rocks near Stenkrith Bridge

Back to the Eden at Stenkrith Bridge, with its marvellous waterfalls – though very little water in them at the moment, then around by the Eden below Stenkrith Hill back to Kirkby Stephen.

Statue of Lady Anne Clifford in Kirkby Stephen. Look her up – a fascinating lady.

Ramblers – 0 out of 10 for anyone who waved through the bridleway diversion.

Text and pictures (c) J and A Bainbridge

By John Bainbridge

Rambler, hillwalker, stravaiger and trespasser, access campaigner. Novelist writing historical and period crime fiction.

7 comments

  1. Glad to see some of the walk is still worthwhile. I love a good waterfall, and the river looks lovely. We studied Lady Anne Clifford on one of my modules, and she is indeed a fascinating characte. Like the statue of her, which I hadn’t seen before.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I suppose having never been to Kirkby Stephen I might be at a disadvantage there, but if it was only put up next year I could be excused for not knowing about it. I have been to Skipton though, and it’s lovely. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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