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Kirkby Stephen to Keld (Green Route)

Hiking route · United Kingdom
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  • Winding Climb from Kirkby Stephen
    Winding Climb from Kirkby Stephen
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
m 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km Kirby Stephen's Parish Church Keld Countryside and Heritage Centre Blue/Red Route … Keld Ravenseat Farm Red & … Keld Keld Lodge
A day walking across bleak and inhospitable moors, with enchanting views between the large town of Kirkby Stephen and the scattering of quaint stone-houses in the Swale Valley, that makes up Keld.
Distance 19.5 km
5:30 h
493 m
343 m
525 m
164 m

Today is a momentous day. Were you a drop of water, at the start of the day you would flow west – back towards St Bees and into the Irish Sea – but by the end of the day you would trickle east and into the North Sea. Naturally, crossing this watershed requires a climb, which starts immediately out of Kirkby Stephen and rises to cross over the Pennines. Secondly, you will cross from Cumbria into Yorkshire today, and thirdly, Keld is the halfway point of the Coast to Coast. I think all that achievement warrants a celebratory beer!

There are actually 3 routes over the moors to Keld, known as the green, red and blue routes - some routes can close off during the year due to the peat becoming heavily eroded with large amounts of walkers trudging over it on a daily basis. There is normally signage from local authorities on the trail (example shown in the images) that advise you what route to take; depending on what month your walking in. It is important you respect any route diversion from local authorities - if you do not, don't be surprised if you have to explain yourself to an angry Yorkshire farmer!

The landscape is bleak, hostile and uncompromising, and that is its charm (though you’ll probably struggle to discover this charm on a wet and windswept day!). Towards the end of the hike, you will drop towards the River Swale which cascades through the Swale Valley and brings life and colour to the region. Dry-stone walls carve the landscape into fragments, many filled with sheep. Scattered across the valley, in every field are small stone buildings are known as a cow house, or a cow’uss if you’re a local; such was the economic significance of a cow and her milk that these buildings were built to offer protection from the harsh elements.

Keld is only a small village but sits on the crossroads between two walks, the Coast to Coast and the Pennine Way. Despite the hordes of travellers that pass through each year, it is a charming and forgotten village where life appears to carry on as normal, as it has for generations.

Author’s recommendation

You might have been wondering what all these derelict stone buildings that dot the fields and landscape are for… I certainly was! The Keld Countryside and Heritage Centre has the answer and is a fantastic resource with information boards and a video.
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Macs Adventure
Update: April 09, 2020
Highest point
525 m
Lowest point
164 m

Track types

Show elevation profile

Rest stops

Ravenseat Farm
Keld Lodge

Safety information

There are a few stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement or verge. Walk on the right side facing the oncoming traffic unless there is a right-hand turn, in which case you should cross to the outside edge to allow drivers the maximum chance to see you.

There are several river crossings in today’s walk. There are always stepping stones available but these may be slippery.

The section across the moors can be featureless. It is important to read the instructions and check the map regularly to ensure you stay on the correct path.

You must cross a cattle grid today. Place your feet carefully and bear in mind it may be slippery when wet.

This route is peaty terrain and can become very boggy; take your time to work out the best route to navigate across it.

Tips and hints

Points of Interest

Keld Countryside and Heritage Centre

This museum sits in the Old Literary Building. There are an interesting collection of display boards and a video which provide insight into life in this region.

More information available here:


Food and Drink

The only option to buy food or drink between Kirkby Stephen and Keld is the Raven Seat Farm Café after 15 kilometres. This isn’t always open so don’t rely on it for lunch!

There is a black corrugated metal hikers’ shelter after 12 kilometres which hikers are free to use and offers good protection from the elements for a lunch-stop.

There are limited options for food in Keld; Be sure to book a table for dinner in advance as it can fill up quickly.

Bring enough supplies for today’s walk before leaving Kirkby Stephen.


Kirkby Stephen Market Square (177 m)
OS Grid
NY 77507 08663
54.472831, -2.348588
54°28'22.2"N 2°20'54.9"W
30U 542214 6036326
Show on Map


Keld Village

Turn-by-turn directions

***When our pathfinder recorded this section, the more popular Red & Blue Routes (that go via Nine Standards Rigg) were in fact closed off, so he had no option but to take the full green route - therefore we only have full written turn by turns for the Green route. (You can still find the Blue/Red route on the Macs App on a GPS track only format). We strongly recommend that you follow the GPS tracks for the Green, Red or Blue Route on the Macs Adventure smartphone app to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable and problem-free day.  The daily maps can also be printed from the web version of the app should you wish to take paper copies with you. ***


0.00km - Start in the Market Square in Kirkby Stephen. Walk towards the Parish Church passing the Visitor Centre on your left. After 100 metres TURN RIGHT onto the road, to pass the car parking and toilets on your rights and following signposts to River Eden and Frank’s Bridge.

0.21km – TURN LEFT to head down the steps following the signs for River Eden and Frank’s Bridge. BEAR LEFT to cross the bridge and then TURN RIGHT once across the bridge to walk beside the river on the gravel path. Take some motivation from the signpost; 82 miles since St Bees!

0.73km – TURN LEFT to head through the wooden gate onto the paved path. Ignore the gap on your right with a large rock in the middle.

0.92km – As you reach the terrace of quaint stone houses directly ahead TURN RIGHT to walk along the road. After 60 metres BEAR LEFT to head downhill on the gravel slope and cross over the bridge. Once over the bridge TURN RIGHT on the paved road.

1.10km – After passing the National Speed Limit Signs (white circle with diagonal black stripe) TURN RIGHT onto the stony footpath, keeping the stream on your right. After 100 metres TURN RIGHT as you re-join the paved road.

1.30km – As the road forks, BEAR LEFT heading uphill onto the ‘No Through Road’ sign. There is also an arrow here for Coast to Coast walkers. Continue on this paved road for 2.2 kilometres, ignoring all side roads and footpaths. You will pass a large quarry on your right.

3.50km – After a long ascent the path forks and becomes unpaved rock. BEAR LEFT and then after 50 metres BEAR RIGHT as the path forks again to head through a metal gate. Once through the gate CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON.

4.40km - CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON as the stone path becomes grassy near the remains of an old stone farm building. You keep the dry-wall on your right.

5.10km – BEAR RIGHT as the path forks to keep the drywall on your right and head on the grassy track. Follow the wooden bridleway sign to Rollinson and Haggs, ignoring the left fork to Nine Standards. This grassy path curves right to keep close to the wall. for those doing the Blue/Red Routes then take the left turn at the fork and walk towards Nine Standards Rigg (ensuring you switch to the relevant route on the Macs App). Please also respect and adhere to any route closures from local authorities.

5.60km – BEAR LEFT to head away from the drywall remaining on the well-established path that bends towards a wooden post.

5.70km – From the wooden post, the path becomes vague. There is a second wooden post ahead and the map shows the footpath as continuing towards it, but this route was boggy and overgrown. We recommend that you TURN RIGHT from this post; you should see a path crossing the stream and continuing ahead. Once across CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON; this path is vague and grassy but is just visible enough to follow. It walks roughly parallel to the dry-stone wall on your right. We recommend checking the map regularly. There are several streams to cross using stepping stones; bear in mind these may be slippery when wet.

6.80km – As a wide, more-established path joins from the left, BEAR RIGHT to join it, as it bends right to keep close to the drywall and head downhill towards a stream.

7.00km – Once across the stream, BEAR LEFT onto the grassy path heading uphill. After 300 metres this path will curve left towards a gate. CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through this gate and continue through a section of limestone pavement towards a second gate.

7.70km – After passing the second gate CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON. After 50 metres TURN LEFT to walk on a wide, grassy track parallel to the wire fence.

7.90 – BEAR RIGHT as a path joins from the left and then immediately BEAR LEFT to head towards the paved road.

8.10km – TURN LEFT to walk on the paved road. Continue for 3.9 kilometres. After 400 metres you will enter Yorkshire and be able to say you have walked across Cumbria!

11.10km – Shortly after the sign for ’bends ahead’ and ‘slow’ painted on the road, there is a wooden post for Coast to Coast which heads uphill on your left through a narrow gorge beside a stream. Ignore this and CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON. After 100 metres, TURN LEFT heading uphill on the wide rocky road.

11.70km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON remaining on the rocky road. Ignore the left turn signposted for Coast to Coast May – July.

12.10km – BEAR RIGHT as the road forks and then when the gravel road ends, BEAR RIGHT to head downhill on grassy track passing the small metal hut on your left. This hut is a shelter which hikers are free to use and which provides surprisingly good protection from the elements; inside is the graffiti from Coast to Coast hikers over the years. The door may appear locked; you have to lift the door as you press the latch.

12.20km – Having passed the hut on your left, BEAR LEFT to cross over the stream. There are rocks and planks of wood spread out to assist with the river crossing and the boggier sections. Immediately after crossing the stream CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON ignoring the tracking heading left uphill.

13.00km - CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON as you reach the corner of the wire fence, ignoring stiles (steps over a wall or fence) over it. Some of this section may be very boggy; take the time to choose your route carefully.

13.50km - CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON along the established path. There is a stream to cross using stepping stones followed by a wooden bridge.

13.90km – As you emerge onto a flat grassy area which may have feeding apparatus for livestock, TURN RIGHT to cross the stream and head uphill on the rocky road. There is a wooden footpath signpost for Coast to Coast to Raven Seat.

14.60km – TURN LEFT to immediately cross over the cattle grid upon reaching the road. After 300 metres CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to cross over the old stone bridge. Ahead is the Raven Seat Farm café, but don’t rely on this for lunch as it isn’t always open. From the stony bridge TURN RIGHT to cross the wooden bridge and continue on the gravel road.

15.00km – With the stone house directly in front, TURN RIGHT to head through the gap in the drywall and then CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON keeping the river on your right and passing through another gate ahead.

15.30km – After passing through a metal gate BEAR LEFT uphill towards two stone buildings which you will pass on your left. There is a footpath sign directing you.

15.60km – The path continues past a derelict building on your right and then CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON a well-established path through two gaps in the drywall (ignoring a gap in the drywall on your left).

15.90km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through two wooden gates, keeping the dry-wall on your right.

16.20km – After a section of wooden fence on your right, with a great view to the river below, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON along the more-established path ignoring the left fork.

16.90km – As you pass under overhead lines and reach a derelict stone building, TURN LEFT following the sign to Keld, and walking on the well-established mud path. Ignore the gate through to the derelict building.

17.20km - CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON along the rocky road, proceeding through a gate and then passing a farmhouse on your right.

17.50km – BEAR LEFT to head uphill toward Frith B&B and following the Coast to Coast arrow. Ignore the right fork which heads downhill towards the bridge over the stream. The path continues parallel to the river and with a row of trees on your right. After 200 metres continue through a gate and keep the drywall and wire fence on your right.

18.20km – After leaving the woodland behind keep the dry-wall on your left. After 200 metres BEAR LEFT through a wooden gate and then TURN RIGHT onto the paved road to head downhill towards a bridge.

18.60km – After crossing the bridge TURN LEFT following the sign to Keld and Reeth. Walk on the right side facing the oncoming traffic.

19.30km – With the Methodist chapel on your right, TURN LEFT to walk on the narrow lane towards ‘Keld Only’. After 150 metres, BEAR LEFT and finish in Keld. Why not go into the Keld Countryside and Heritage Centre to learn more about all these small stone buildings, known as cow’usses (cowhouses)?


*** This is the end of our Kirby Stephen to Keld (Green) route, use your included documentation to find your overnight accommodation. ***


all notes on protected areas


OS Grid
NY 77507 08663
54.472831, -2.348588
54°28'22.2"N 2°20'54.9"W
30U 542214 6036326
Show on Map
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


Sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required. The weather can change quickly so be sure to take all equipment even if the weather looks okay. Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.

This walk is isolated with limited opportunities to buy food or water so be sure to bring enough with you.

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19.5 km
5:30 h
493 m
343 m
Highest point
525 m
Lowest point
164 m


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