Orton Scar and Great Asby Scar. Two adjoining fantastic and unique landscapes nestled high, side by side, not too far from home. Time to get up at the ‘crack of dawn’ I thought. A good old hike in nature before the day begins for many.
Many think of the Yorkshire Dales etc for limestone pavements but these scars up here in Cumbria are some of the most extensive in Britain. Varied, open, fresh air and views all round, and I mean all round. South you look across to the impressive Howgills and the Lune Gorge beyond Tebay. North, the landscape rolls field and hill way up the Eden Valley. West, the fells around Shap lead the way to The lake District and East you look across the Eden Valley to the great line of the Northern Pennines.
Now then when I say the ‘crack of dawn’ I realised to wander with the sunrise, within the week that has the year’s longest day, that was darn early. Made it. Not far from the car park on the B6260 I stood on the top of Beacon Hill, Orton Scar. In the middle of what seems nowhere up here is a weathered monument amongst the limestone paving.. erected to honour the Jubilee of Queen Victoria. All was calm and peaceful, alone except for the curious sheep and the hares running around. It was time to relax and watch the sunrise over the Pennines.
The sun was up and time to hike on. Across Orton Scar and round the edges. The views kept on coming and the sun kept on rising nicely. Down below was another quirky gem. Gamelands Stone Circle. Not the most famous stone circle and not the most visited but one of the largest in Cumbria and one of the oldest dating back to early Neolithic. Apparently it was in the 1860s that the stones were toppled over to allow the area to be ploughed.
You can imagine the setting way back with views over to the Howgills….
From Orton Scar I had moved onto Great Asby Scar. The limestone pavements with the low sun became majestic and more dramatic. Hopping from stone to stone amongst the bright green grass had really set me up for the day…
As I said this is not just a walk in the open. More unique things had yet to cross my path. Firstly, as you look East of Great Asby Scar you see swathes of limestone pavement but rising out of it a raised flattened mound! It may not seem much at first but this is the remains of a Romano-British defended stone enclosure. It was later used in the middle ages as a shieling (a place for shepherds to stay in grazing season). If you step up on top of it you can see the remains of the ancient hut circle…..
And… not more than a mile away down the trail is ‘Thunder Rock’! Now then. That name bigs it up doesn’t it? Well, don’t expect anything on the gigantic side but quirky yes nonetheless. The great Eden Valley was carved by Glaciers. These great rivers of ice brought big rocks from afar and dropped them along their route. A random granite stones so far away from home (known as an erratic) amongst the limestone. The crazy thing here is that someone way, way back, when building the limestone walls decided not to go around Thunder Rock, but literally over it and using it
The life around had become more than a few sheep and hares now. The air was filling with butterflies and the songs of birds. At this early hour there were countless numbers of Wheatears singing and hopping along the rocks and grass.
I was ready to start the day, refreshed. A good few miles in open Cumbrian countryside with variety way beyond what can be conceived from distant view