Smardale Nature Reserve and Smardale Fell

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A lovely circular walk through Smardale Nature Reserve using a disused railway. The reserve is a haven for wildlife and flora. The route passes the picturesque Smardale Bridge, then we follow an old packhorse trail back over the fells.

A moderate grade is given mainly because there is a fairly stiff climb to return. If taking the optional shorter route from Smardale Bridge the path near the viaduct is thin and traverses a steep slope, so care is needed.

There are plenty of information boards along the way to fill you in about the local wildflowers, wildlife and the lime kilns.

It's a good walk for dogs but they should be on leads, at least on the open farmland. Some folk allow well-behaved dogs free along the railway nature reserve where it's well enclosed and away from livestock.

Some of this walk would be accessible for people with wheelchairs and pushchairs, but going much beyond the viaduct and lime kilns would not be possible as there are steps to climb and stiles to be crossed. However there's no reason you can't take the outward journey to the lime kilns and even a little further and come back the same way.

England - North England - Cumbria - Eden Valley


Birds, Butterflies, Flowers, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Industrial Archaeology, Mostly Flat, Nature Trail
7/25/2018 - David and Chris Stewart

The previous parking problems are now all resolved with the establishment of a brand new car park not far from the walk start. Information in the Access Info for the walk.

7/15/2018 - Carol Kingshott

Hello. We drove for an hour or so to do this walk, but when we got to the parking spaces described in the walk there were big red signs everywhere saying 'No Parking'. Couldn't find anywhere else to leave the car, so came home. Only then did I notice the comment from Nicola back in January who had the same parking problem. I must admit that I don't always remember to look at the comments before printing walk details (yes, we're still paper-based). It might be helpful if the authors could research an alternative parking place and amend the main body of the walk description accordingly so others aren't disappointed as it seems to be an interesting walk. Hope this is helpful.

1/8/2018 - Nicola Howarth

Our group had 4 cars . When we got to Smardale the parking area near the entrance to the nature trail had no parking signs everywhere . We spoke to the local post man who told us a big dispute was going on between the land owners. Apparently it's private land and they have big problems with a lot of hikers parking there due to no roadside parking . We decided to risk it as it is a small walk and we had traveled a good way. We were fine but I think we were lucky . My advise would be to go to Crosby Garret a mile away and extend the walk. Apart from the parking, a lovely interesting short stroll . Thank you

6/27/2013 - Brian Scott

Decided (incorrectly as it turned out) to walk the Smardale Gill walk today Thursday 27th June and not to do it yesterday because the weather forcast was for rain in the afternoon earlier on Wednesday. Started out early as it's a 2hour trip from home. Dry when we arrived and set off. Me and my dog Harry. Took a copy of the route from the site but other than taking the correct turn on the return leg following the route was not a problem. Lots of historical information along the way and found it most interesting. The rail crash notice was bewildering (leave you to check it out for your self). Took loads of photo's of wild flowers and a few of birds. Sadly not of a raven which is the reason I decided to go do the walk. I have no idea how long ago raven's were seen there but no sight of them now. Rain came early and spoilt the return along the vally side but overall enjoyed very much.

6/1/2009 - Walkingworld Administrator

This walk has 3 stiles and only one is dog friendly. The other two may need human help in getting large dogs who can't jump over as no alternatives for dogs are provided.

9/24/2006 - Ian Fairnie

Lovely walk exactly as described. Follow the sign for Crosby Garrett when reaching Smardale. Smardale is tiny put the car parking is tucked away and not immediately visible. The walk is a delight and mostly on the flat except where described. It would be very difficult to get lost. A glorious sunny day when I did it - 23/09/06. The Rowans were full of berries and still blackberries to be sampled but no crabs on the bountiful crab-apple trees, just apples... The information boards are brilliant along a wide, flat track.

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