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Orton to Kirkby Stephen

· 2 reviews · Hiking route · United Kingdom
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  • Walking on Rough Muddy Farm Track
    / Walking on Rough Muddy Farm Track
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Ponies
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Rough Rocky Lane
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Gamelands Stone Circle
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Patchwork Rolling Fields
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Smardale Bridge
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Narrow Paved Lane
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
m 400 350 300 250 200 150 20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km Gamelands Stone Circle Kirby Stephen's Parish Church Sunbiggin Farm
Stroll across rolling farmland and bleak moors between Orton and Kirkby Stephen, also passing a prehistoric stone circle.
Distance 20.4 km
5:15 h
227 m
291 m
341 m
177 m

Today you will experience quite the juxtaposition; you’ll wander across rolling farmland, with its fields of luscious green grass and baby lambs who leap about and dry-stone walls that maintain a sense of order; and on the other hand, you’ll traipse across bleak, exposed moors, with hardy, brown grasses that grow from the black squelching bog, and an uncompromising landscape that seems to extend forever.

On these moors, the beauty is in its harsh and inhospitable nature, and yet, to some it is home; if you enjoy bird-spotting, these moors will be a feast for your eyes and ears, with various species of birds singing and darting around you.

Now you have truly left the Lake District, there were signposts at almost every junction, gate and stile, with the recognisable ‘AW Coast to Coast’ arrow leading the way, and making it easier to find your way.

Author’s recommendation

Keep your eyes peeled and ears listening for birdlife as you walk across the moors. I was surprised how many birds lived in this bleak landscape.
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Macs Adventure
Update: April 09, 2020
Highest point
341 m
Lowest point
177 m

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.

The section along some of 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.

There is a steep grassy descent from Begin Hill. Bear in mind this may be slippery, and especially when wet. Walking poles will be of assistance here. Place your feet in the rutted footprints of other people.

Tips and hints

Points of Interest

Gamelands Stone Circle

Two kilometres after leaving Orton you will pass Gamelands Stone Circle. 33 stones remain in this farmland setting at the base of Knott Scar to make this stone circle. Artefacts have been found nearby which date to 1800 – 1400 BC.

More information available here:


Kirkby Stephen Church, Cathedral of the Dales

Kirkby Stephen Parish Church was built on the site of a Saxon Church, and therefore there are many interesting and unique relics to discover. Of particular interest may be the Loki Stone, which is a one-metre stone, dated to the 8th-10th century with a carving of Loki, the Norse God on it. There are only two such carvings in Europe, and this is the only one in England.

More information available here:


Food and Drink

After 4 kilometres there is a small rest stop/café beside the road on Sunbiggin Farm, where you can buy a few snacks and drinks. Otherwise, there is nowhere to get food or drink between Orton and Kirkby Stephen. Be sure to bring enough supplies for the whole journey before leaving Orton.

Kirkby Stephen is very well-supplied with shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.


Orton Village Hall (236 m)
OS Grid
NY 62247 08237
54.468091, -2.583996
54°28'05.1"N 2°35'02.4"W
30U 526961 6035683


Kirkby Stephen Market Square

Turn-by-turn directions

*** To help you follow the route with confidence we have provided full written turn by turns to aid you on your walk from Orton to Kirby Stephen. Whilst, the Coast to Coast is waymarked it can be featureless and off the beaten path at some sections so we strongly suggest that you follow the GPS tracks in 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 at Orton Village Hall facing the chocolate factory and TURN LEFT to walk along Front Street. You will pass a sign for a school, and several stone buildings on your right and an open wetland habitat on your left. After 300 metres TURN LEFT to cross the small stone bridge. There is a wooden coast to coast sign and a cycling path sign for Kirkby Stephen. Continue along this road for 1.6 kilometres ignoring all side turns. Walk on the right side facing the oncoming traffic.

0.85km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON at the crossroads. On your right, you will have views to the velvety, rounded mountains of the Howgills Fells.

1.90km – As the wooded section finishes on your right, TURN LEFT following the sign to ‘Rejoin Coast to Coast,’ and to walk along the gravel road bordered with dry-wall and trees. After 200 metres you can turn right through a wooden gate to see a prehistoric stone circle.

2.30km – TURN RIGHT just after the remains of a stone building, crossing over the stone stile (steps over a wall or fence) following the ‘Coast to Coast via Sunbiggin’ sign. You are ignoring two footpaths on your left. Walk keeping the dry-wall on your right and after 200 metres BEAR RIGHT over the stile or through the wooden gate (which may be open) to continue with the dry-wall on your left, passing through several gaps in the dry-wall ahead.

2.80km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through two stiles, passing the derelict stone farmhouse on your left, before proceeding over a further three stiles in quick succession. Once over the third stile, the path continues through the middle of the field towards a group of trees just visible beyond the brow of the hill.

3.40km – Proceed over the stile beside the small collection of trees and metal barn headed towards the stone farm building. After 200 metres proceed through the wooden gates immediately in front of the stone farmhouse and then TURN LEFT to walk along the narrow paved lane. Ignore all side paths, including signed footpaths.

4.70km – As the paved road turns abruptly, TURN RIGHT onto the gravel lane; there is a Coast to Coast sign to Sunbiggin Tarn to guide you.

5.20km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through the gate in the dry-wall.

5.40km – As the gravel path runs out, ignore the rutted muddy vehicle tracks heading uphill towards the scattering of the tree ahead, and TURN RIGHT onto the vaguer grassy path that turns towards heather. After 50 metres ignore the grassy fork bearing right and follow the path as it heads uphill towards a dead tree.

5.90km – At the grassy crossroads in the dip of land, TURN RIGHT, ignoring the more major path that appears to continue ahead. This path curves a few times before joining the paved road.

6.30km – TURN RIGHT onto the paved road. After 400 metres, shortly after crossing the stone bridge, TURN LEFT. Again there is a map and wooden post to guide you.

7.10km – As a wide path joins from the right, TURN LEFT to head towards deep muddy vehicle ruts. Continue along this path. This path is well-established and easy to follow. Enjoy distant views on your left to Sunbiggin Tarn.

7.50km – BEAR LEFT to head around a field and downhill towards a wooden bridge. After crossing the wooden bridge CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON headed uphill.

9.00km – As the path forks near the corner of a dry-wall field BEAR LEFT to walk with the dry-wall on your left. After 200 metres TURN RIGHT away from the gate. The path will fork almost immediately BEAR RIGHT to walk towards the drywall ahead.

9.50km – TURN LEFT to walk on the paved road. After 100 metres TURN RIGHT onto the wide stony track. After 300 metres the stony track will disappear with a deep-water well on your left. The path seems to disappear entirely here. BEAR RIGHT to walk keeping the dry-wall on your right.

10.20km – BEAR LEFT away from the dry-wall on your right to pass through a metal gate. Once through the gate CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON keeping dry-wall on your right.

10.50km – Ignore the gates on your right with a yellow footpath sign. CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON keeping close to the dry-wall on your right. You should have no dry-wall on your left.

10.80km – After a sharp dip BEAR RIGHT as the path forks, keeping dry-wall on your right.

11.20km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON as you reach a crossroads with deeply rutted vehicle tracks, and a farmhouse/B&B on your right, following the sign to Smardale Bridge. After 500 metres continue through a metal gate in the dry-wall ahead, then CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON heading towards the overhead lines. The path disappears somewhat here, so just keep close to the dry-wall on your right.

12.10km – After passing the overhead lines BEAR RIGHT to cross over the steps in the dry-wall and then walk keeping the dry-wall on your left. There are wooden posts to help guide you here. This grassy downhill is steep and can be slippery when wet. Walking poles will be an advantage. Place your feet in the rutted footprints where possible.

13.00km – TURN RIGHT at the stone house, and after 100 metres TURN LEFT to pass through two wooden gates. After the wooden gates TURN RIGHT to walk keeping the wire fence on your right but ignoring the stile.

13.40km – BEAR LEFT to head through the metal gate and to head downhill towards the old picturesque bridge. Once across the bridge CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to head uphill towards Kirkby Stephen and Smardale Fell, ignoring side paths. To you left you can enjoy a view to Smardale Viaduct.

14.00km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through the wooden gate at the top of the field, and then TURN LEFT to walk keeping the dry-wall on your left. Ignore the nearby fence uphill of you.

14.30km - CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through the wooden gate in the dry-wall. You will immediately pass a small stone pen before continuing on the grassy path through the heather. This path will split apart and then rejoin several times; walk generally parallel to the dry-wall on your left.

15.30km – As the dry-wall makes a left-hand bend, BEAR RIGHT to head uphill towards the brow of the hill. There is a wooden post on this corner to guide you, and there is also a wooden post on the brow of the hill for you to walk towards. There are a myriad of paths here so if in doubt check the map regularly. At the next wooden post BEAR RIGHT to continue heading uphill and across the field.

15.80km – Upon reaching the dry-wall BEAR RIGHT to walk keeping the wall on your left.

16.60km – At the bottom of the field proceed through a gate and then TURN RIGHT onto the paved road. After 200 metres TURN LEFT onto the narrow lane, passing the 15”9’ height restriction sign.

17.00km – TURN RIGHT from the paved road to cross a stone stile and then BEAR LEFT diagonally across the field towards the tunnel under the railway tracks.

17.60km – Once through the railway BEAR RIGHT between the scattered trees. After 100 metres you should see the corner of the field; continue through a stile in the corner of the field and then CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON heading directly through the middle of the field heading downhill. There is a wooden post in the middle of the field to direct you as the path heads between two steep grassy slopes.

18.40km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON over stone steps in the wall and then head downhill, passing a stone house on your left.

18.70km – Having passed the derelict stone house CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through a gate and then through vehicle tracks with high roads; the remains of what used to be a railway tunnel.

18.80km – Once past the remains of the railway tunnel, TURN LEFT and then immediately TURN RIGHT ignoring the gravel road downhill, and then BEAR RIGHT to walk along the footpath which passes close to the metal barn on your right. There are regular yellow arrows here to help prevent you from becoming lost.

18.90km – Once through the wooden gate TURN LEFT onto the paved road. Ignore all side paths and gates/stiles for 600 metres.

19.50km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON as the road forks, following the sign for Town Centre via Faraday Road. After 100 metres this road will become gravel.

20.00km – At the junction TURN RIGHT onto West Garth, then after 100 metres TURN RIGHT opposite the Faraday sign, after 50 metres TURN LEFT to walk along the High Street.

20.40km – Finish in the Market Square of Kirkby Stephen.


*** This is the end of our Orton to Kirby Stephen route, use your included documentation to find your overnight accommodation ***


all notes on protected areas


OS Grid
NY 62247 08237
54.468091, -2.583996
54°28'05.1"N 2°35'02.4"W
30U 526961 6035683
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 no opportunities to buy food or water so be sure to bring enough with you.

Questions and answers

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William Hazelton
July 13, 2021 · Community
Another good relatively easy farmland & pasture day. As with a lot of the walk, if the weather is kind (as it was for us) it’s a joy walking through the various grazing fields; if it’s dull & wet it might be a slog.
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When did you do this route? June 27, 2021
One of the many drystone walls
Photo: William Hazelton, Community
You’ll get very used to the many different types of style!
Photo: William Hazelton, Community
Another style
Photo: William Hazelton, Community
Cathedral of the Dales in Kirkby Stephen
Photo: William Hazelton, Community
Felt like more then 82 miles so far!
Photo: William Hazelton, Community
Sitting in the garden of our B&B, the neighbour dropped by
Photo: William Hazelton, Community
Kevin Smith
June 13, 2021 · Community

Photos from others

+ 2

20.4 km
5:15 h
227 m
291 m
Highest point
341 m
Lowest point
177 m


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