Stainmore Railway – The Northern Viaducts Round

Stainmore Railway – The Northern Viaducts Round

Location : Kirkby Stephen   –  Grid Ref : NY 775088

Merrygill Viaduct (centre left), Hartley Quarry centre), Hartley Castle (lower left), Podgill Viaduct (lower right). Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham

The Northern Viaducts Round follows just over a mile of the former Stainmore Railway, which provided a vital link between the coalfields of South Durham and the iron and steel industries of the Furness district of Lancashire and West Cumberland. Opened in 1861 between Barnard Castle and Tebay, it crossed the Pennines and reached its highest point at Stainmore Summit, 1370 feet above sea level, the second highest railway in England.


Near Kirkby Stephen the Merrygill and Podgill Viaducts have been restored by the The Northern Viaduct Trust, forming the railway part of the walk, along with the award winning Stenkrith Millennium Bridge, which crosses the River Eden, providing access to the route from Kirkby Stephen.


Podgill Viaduct. Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham.

From Stenkrith Park enter the park via the wicket gate on the Nateby Road (B6259), turning right to cross the new Millennium Bridge (NY 773075) with spectacular views of the River Eden as it passes through a rocky gorge. Turn left along the trackbed footpath to reach Podgill Viaduct in about three-quarters of a mile. Continue for a further half mile to Merrygill Viaduct and access to the road into Hartley village. The Stenkrith Park access is suitable for all types of user, including wheelchairs. The path is also open to cyclists and horse-riders.


Alternately, from Hartley village follow the road south, climbing steeply out of this pretty village – being wary of heavy wagons from the quarry. As the road opens out Merrygill Viaduct and its footpath access is on your right. In a car, turn left and immediately left again, to find a small car parking area.


Merrygill Viaduct. Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham.

A circular walk is possible via Kirkby Stephen and Hartley, a little over three miles taking less than two hours.

The Stenkrith Millennium Bridge.

For more information and pictures of the Stainmore railway – see The history of the line
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