Nine Standards Rigg.
6 miles / 9½ kilometers
Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Map: OS Explorer OL19 - Howgill Fells & Upper Eden Valley
Nine Standards Rigg lies to the south east of Kirkby Stephen, consisting of a series of nine cairns situated on the coast to coast walk between Kirkby Stephen and Keld, near to the summit of Hartley Fell, Cumbria. The cairns are a prominent feature of the landscape which can be seen from miles around standing proud at the top of the Hartley Fell.
It is unclear what the Nine Standards are for, what they represent, or exactly how old they are, but they have been mentioned as far back as the 16th century. They may just be a local, early form of art work. Though the cairns that can be seen today are grade 2 listed, they are not the original cairns, as they have been rebuilt, restored and refurbished a number of times, most recently in 2005. They are different shapes and sizes from 6 feet 10 feet high and they are not equidistant apart. Their original structure, height and shapes are likely to have been lost during the rebuilds.
Situated next to the Nine Standards is a geopositioning type feature erected to commemorate the wedding of HRH Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer on 29th July 1981. It was erected by member of the Kirkby Stephen Fell Search Team.
Nonetheless they are a crowd puller and the walk is a very pleasant walk 'in dry conditions!', and a great place for a picnic, with some great views.
The North Pennines was designated as an AONB in 1988 for its stunning moorland scenery of open heather moors, peat land areas of blanket bog, attractive dales and tumbling upland rivers. The landscape has been crafted through centuries of farming and mining for lead which the area is renowned for.
From Nateby follow the B6270 for about 2.5 miles or 6.25 miles from Keld to a level grassed area which can support a number of cars – park here, on the north side. From here start along a well trodden path. Unfortunately (1st June 2023) the signed finger post that marked the route has been removed.
There are no markings along the route for confidence and guidance to indicate the route to follow, though the pathway is well trodden. Though the paths are defined they are not managed.
PLEASE keep to the obvious trails to preserve the habitats and prevent moorland erosion. Being in an area of peat land blanket bog even in the dry summer months the odd boggy area can still be found – bear this in mind when wearing trainers, but during the wetter months or after rain it can get very boggy under foot - waterproof boots are essential and gaiters are recommended. The paths are defined but not managed, being in an area of peat land blanket bog wearing trainers in the summer dry months should not be an issue, but during the wetter months or after rain it can get very boggy under foot - when waterproof boots and gaiters are essential.
The 6 mile walk heads north east passed Dukerdale Pots and Shake Holes taking a moderate ascent up to the summit of Hartley Fell in Swaledale to the trig point and then on to the star of the show the Nine Standards Rigg and magnificent views, the route continues to Fox Crags for some more spectacular views. The trail then follow Faraday Gill to a track junction, turns left to head south east and back to the start.
This is a popular walk particularly in the summer months and during school holidays, the areas around the Nine Standards Rigg can be busy, walking a little further to the top of Fox Crags can be less populated, offering a good place to sit for a while to take in the views.
It is not uncommon to encounter RAF helicopters and jets flying in the area.