The fells and footpaths that surround Ravenstonedale are a paradise for walkers, whether your idea of a good walk is a stiff mountain climb or a meander along a gentle valley. Below are just a few recommendations from the many available. Distances are approximate.
If you follow Bowderdale Beck to it's source you will find the path that will take you to the highest point of The Howgills, a rather disappointing pimple called Calf. Should you continue on in a southerly direction you would soon find yourself in Sedbergh, but if you're going to tackle this as a one way walk, leave you car in Sedbergh and take the bus to Ravenstonedale to begin your walk. Otherwise you could miss the last bus, which leaves Sedbergh just before 5.00pm, and be stuck for transport home.
Smardale is a beautiful secluded valley that offers a variety of easy circular walks amid beautiful undulating scenery. Walkers can start either from Ravenstonedale or from Newbiggin-on-Lune and return to either village. For more information see Walking in Smardale.
Orton Scar and Great Asby Scar are characterised by large outcrops of limestone pavements set amid sheep-grazed grass. These weathered outcrops are not only amazingly picturesque but are also home to a miriad of plants that inhabit the deep crevices. The scenery is truly dramatic.
The Yomp Mountain Challenge is an annual event held in June that involves a walk, or run, over 23 miles of beautiful Cumbrian fells in the Upper Eden Valley near Kirkby Stephen. For those who prefer a gentler aim there are walks of 11.5 miles (Half Yomp) and 6.5 miles (Short Yomp). The Yomp Mountain Challenge, formerly known as the Mallerstang Horseshoe and Nine Standards Yomp, was established in 1983 by the Rotary Club of Upper Eden to commemorate the achievements of the British Forces engaged in the Falklands Campaign. The Yomp is a community event open to all.
If this was to happen and you did get lost, the best thing is to find some running water and follow it down, avoiding precipices of course. You might not end up where you wanted to be but you should find 's better than getting out your mobile phone and calling Mountain Rescue. Remember, if you call them out because you're lost it means that they won't be available for someone else who might be severely injured.
Footpaths around Ravenstonedale itself are mostly way-marked, but again, you will need a 1-25,000 map and know how to read it.
The reason I stress it should be a 1-25,000 map (yellow cover) is that the 1-50,000 map (pink cover) doesn't have walls marked on it. This makes it virtually impossible to use for finding your way around on a footpath if you don't know where the footpath crosses a wall.
Always remember when you are out walking, that your 'playground' is the farmers 'factory floor' and be prepared to wait patiently if you come across a farmer moving sheep. It goes without saying that dogs should be kept under control and on a lead in enclosed land, whether you can see sheep around or not.
The local farmers are generally a convivially natured lot, but don't take kindly to 'townies' trying to tell them their job. You might well find a sheep with a limp or it's head stuck in a fence. It's called attention seeking and, while you might help a sheep by pushing it's nose back the way it came, it can cause a lot of damage, both to the sheep and the fence if twenty people descend on it, screaming, and yelling and causing it to panic. Chances are, if you ignore it, it will probable free itself as soon as you turn you back.
The other emotive subject between farmers and walkers is gates. One simple rule - if you opened it, you shut it. You are the only one who knew how it was fastened, hold on to it, see other members of your party through it then shut it.
If you see other walkers approaching it, either see them through as well or fasten it as you found it and leave them to open it for themselves but never shout and tell them to shut it and then walk away. There could well be a sheep hiding behind a wall that you didn't notice and could walk through the gate as soon as your back is turned or the other walker could be the first of a large group and by the time the last person gets there, no one knows whether it was open or closed and no one can find the string, bit of wire or other obscure fastening mechanism that secured the thing.
Likewise, if you come to a gate that is open, please leave it. Often, even a small party of walkers can get spread out at if everyone is obeying the 'gate rule' and you are the last of the group, you know not to shut the gate.
Also, if you were the first to a gate you are probably one of the stronger walkers in the party and can afford to wait for the slower walkers and still be able to catch up. If poor 'tail end Charlie' has to keep stopping to close gates it will leave him or her struggling even more to keep up.
If you are guiding a walk, wait at the gate for the first of your party to get there and assign them to do the gate duty. Believe me, it works and it is the only method that does. There is nothing that winds farmers up more than parties of walkers shouting back and forth with 'was it closed/open/fastened messages. I re-iterate, if you opened it, you close it.
Of course, the other way to get to see the very best that the area has to offer to walkers is to consult a local. We are not at all as bossy as we sound.