There’s a certain magic about Devon and Cornwall at this time of year. Whether on the coast, in the estuaries or the deeply incised river valleys, this is a special place, hillier than further east, a contorted landscape designed for travel by boat or on foot. There is a rich history of occupation, from iron age forts, to picturesque fishing villages, to huge naval facilities, to today’s tourist business.
Water is everywhere. Walk on water at a tidal crossing; listen to a geyser that spouts every 15 minutes, flag down a train at GWR’s St Keyne Wishing Well Halt. Around Plymouth the landscape is of rias, flooded valleys which extend in many directions from the harbour. We will cross the Tamar by road, and by Brunel’s bridge. We spend time in Looe where two rivers meet the coast. All being well with tide and time, we intend to do a boat trip to a small nature reserve island on our last day.
Kirkby Stephen is in the historic county of Westmorland, quite near the historic capital of Appleby. There are beautiful walks on the Cumbrian moors, the Eden valley, the nearby Howgill Fells, with the Pennines about five miles away. It is located between the North Pennines AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and the Lake District National Park.
The hostel is in the town, near pubs and shops and 1.5 miles walk from the Kirkby Stephen railway station on the scenic Settle to Carlisle line. The local walks include part of Wainwright's coast to coast route. With a car, it is possible to drive to the Eastern Lakes District, which is relatively unexplored. Cross Fell at 2,930 feet (893 m) is accessible by a short car journey and is the highest English peak outside the Lake District. In fact, it is higher than many of the peaks in the Lake District, and will be a considerable effort to ascend, should you choose to climb it. It often has snow in March