Smardale Gill Viaduct

Self-isolating doesn’t mean staying indoors. While the news is full of pictures of mass gatherings at the sea-side and queues on the M55 for Tesco, we went for a run. It was a gentle little run, taking it easy, and we didn’t see another person, let alone getting within 2m of others.

We headed out to Ravenstonedale, a small village near Kirkby Stephen, which sounds like it should be in Game of Thrones. It was sunny, cold, but dry. Ideal trail running weather. We even found the correct footpath out of the village on the first attempt. Crossing the busy A685 and into sheep filled fields with the obligatory selfie.


We soon found ourselves on a great little footpath in full view of the amazing Smardale Gill Viaduct.


The viaduct was completed in 1861 and was part of the South Durham and Lancashire Union Railway, built mainly to transport coal from the north east to the steelworks in Barrow. The line (and viaduct) closed in 1962, and by 1980 the viaduct was in danger of collapsing. British Rail, who owned it, donated the money that demolishing would have cost to a trust. They in turn raised additional money and in 1993 the restoration was complete and the viaduct was open for pedestrians (and runners).


Unfortunately, the viaduct was actually closed. More work is required on the railings. We climbed over the gate and ran along the middle of the viaduct, keeping away from the edges. Please don’t do what we did. I think I can safely say that this was the first time that I had run across a viaduct.

Moments after crossing we came across a couple of old lime kilns, and then a couple of derelict cottages.


Much like the old church we saw on our Littledale run a few weeks ago (read about it here), these cottages would make a fantastic place to live, if you had a very large bucket of cash. Helen even managed to find a photo online of the same cottages when the line was still in use.

Running along the old railway line was brilliant, nice and flat with a soft springy surface. Nelly was also loving it as she could have a good scamper away from sheep.


All too soon the old railway line ended. We said hello to a horse.


Once more we crossed the main road and jogged on through Newbiggin-on-Lune. Joining another footpath and more sheep fields, we were soon back into Ravenstonedale. Only 6 and a half miles, but one of the best little runs that we have ever done. Once home it was even sunny enough to sit in the garden with a brew and a book.

Little adventures with my amazing wife and our silly pointer are the best days.

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