Birkdale Common, Kirkby Stephen, Coast to Coast

Birkdale Common

Birkdale Common is a huge open area of upland moorland lying south east of Kirkby Stephen and stretching almost to Keld in the western Yorkshire Dales. It is part of the Pennines and is a flat-topped water catchment area consisting mostly of blanket bog. Rills and gullies criss cross the mossy top. The Common is bisected by the B6270 and the Birkdale Beck. The county boundary between Cumbria and Yorkshire crosses the Common in a north east direction. The Coast to Coast path crosses Birkdale Common on its way to Whitsun Dale.

The Coast to Coast walk crosses Birkdale Common, keeping so far as possible to the south and west edge of the plateau so as to keep to the higher and less boggier ground. This is not always possible, however, and the Coast to Coast can rarely be walked without passing through some of the bogs, even in dry weather.

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Hartley Fell

The western end of Birkdale Common is made up of Hartley Fell and Nateby Common, the two being separated by Dukerdale, and is not far west of the county border. Hartley Fell is famous for the Nine Standards, lying on the stoney cliff top above Low Dukerdale. The Nine Standards are a pack of 9 large cairns, all sitting in a row. They are striking to look at, even from a distance. The Coast to Coast path climbs Hartley Fell, close to Faraday Gill, and reaches the plateau at the side of the Nine Standards. The whole of this area is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Hartley Fell, Kirkby Stephen

Nine Standards Rigg

Nine Standards Rigg

White Mossey Hill

Coast to Coast walkers will usually follow the trail from the summit cairn on Hartley Fell to the cairn on White Mossy Hill. In the photograph below the path is quite dry, but most of the time it is sodden. Being on the edge of the plateau, though, allows much of the water to drain away. A little below and to the east of the summit of White Mossy Hill, is the Jack Standards Cairn. Following the Coast to Coast walk from White Mossy Hill you descend towards Lady Dike Head, passing over the broad boggy area of Benty Batts.
White Mossy Hill

Lady Dike Head

Lady Dike Head

Coldbergh Side

Between the road at the foot of Birkdale Common and the Coast to Coast path are the steep cliffs of Coldbergh Scar, Coldbergh Edge and Coldbergh Side. The plateau above the scar is different and drier than it is further west. The Coast to Coast persists in following the plateau edge here, being the driest area of the plateau. This part of the plateau is drained to the south west by Mould Gill, Crooked Sike and Coldbergh Gill. At the foot of Coldbergh Side, the Birkdale Beck is born at a watersmeet where the Uldale Beck, Lambing Hole Gutter and Crooked Sike all meet. The area is known as Beck Meetings. Birkdale Beck later changes to the River Swale, when it merges with the Great Sleddale Beck. This is the birth of Swaledale.

Mouldgill Mea

The area around Millstones and Mouldgill Mea, traversed on the Coast to Coast path, see a divergence from the edge of the plateau and into a more boggier area, although it is better drained. There are many rills and gullies cutting across the path, mostly narrow but certainly jumpable. Some of the wider rills and becks have small wooden bridges. The largest gill to cross is the Rowantree Gill.

Rowantree Gill

Rowantree Gill
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Wild Beauty of the Coast to Coast Path

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Coast to Coast eBook

The Wild Beauty of the Coast to Coast Path

The Wild Beauty of the Coast to Coast Path is designed both as a trail guide, and as an informative and adventurous travelogue. Written by Roy David McKee, this is a must-read for anyone contemplating the walk.

The book is available from the iBooks store and has been digitally enhanced.

Features of the Book:
  • Route described in detail
  • Large scale detailed digital Maps of the route
  • Hundreds of colour photographs that can be expanded to full page
  • Photo-galleries of particular areas of interest.
  • Research notes of Historic and Interesting places on the path.
Copyright © 2017 Roy McKee
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