Orton Scar

Walk date – 30th December 2020

Distance – 2.5 miles

Weather – dry and calm, very cold


An afternoon walk, albeit more of a leg stretch than a proper walk, in an area quite close to home. Its a good place for dog walking and thus is very popular with local residents. Orton Scar is somewhere we often go for a short walk as it has plenty of free parking space, numerous paths and long distance views of the Lakeland fells, the Howgills and the North Pennines, and they all looked absolutely splendid today when the sunlight illuminated their winter coverings. As was the case when we walked over Watermillock Common a couple of days ago there wasn’t a breath of breeze but, unlike then, today was really, really cold and there wasn’t a patch of squelch or mud anywhere, the ground was frozen solid and rock hard. It brought to mind the following –

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago. (Christina Rossetti)

I wasn’t going to take the camera to begin with but then decided I would. Then I thought the photos probably weren’t worth putting up on the site, and then changed my mind, so here are some of the shots I took as we strolled across the open moorland of Orton Scar.

Route map

We parked in an old quarry  (indicated by the green star) at the top of the hill above Orton village, crossed the road and walked up Beacon Hill, and then followed one of the many paths across the moorland to another old quarry, located where the red line on the map becomes a squiggle. Then we walked back along the quarry road to the parking area at the end of it. From there we walked back along the B6260 to the car.

The view back as we reached the top of Beacon Hill. A zoom in will reveal the parking area in the old quarry. Beacon Hill is of very modest height with a gentle climb and the long distance views are extensive. Beyond the Shap fells High Street takes pride of place on the centre skyline with Kidsty Pike and High Raise to the right of it. The road below drops down left to Orton village, to the right it carries on to Appleby.

The monument on Beacon Hill commemorating Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1887. Patches of thin white cloud are blocking the sunlight at the moment. Wild Boar Fell is just visible towards the centre of the distant, and sunny, skyline.

Looking across to Little Asby Scar as we walked the path alongside the wall. The sun put in a brief appearance and lit the fell side for a few moments. With a zoom in the tall cairn on the summit should be just about visible.

Three limestone escarpments below the main hill were also briefly illuminated. The Howgills remain in the shade behind them.

Looking across the rough moorland towards Cross Fell and the North Pennines.

We’ve arrived at the squiggly bit on our route map. This is a former stone quarry, no longer worked but interesting to explore. We’ve been down there and had a look around on previous visits but have never looked down into it before.

All vehicle access to the quarry has been blocked off. They don’t look it from here but the blocking stones are quite a size.

Access to all areas is blocked but there’s nothing to stop anyone climbing over them and doing a bit of exploring.

Another blocked off access point.

It doesn’t look like it from up here but when you are down there you feel quite overpowered by those tall rock walls.

The cloud drifted away and we had brilliant sunlight for the remainder of the walk.

The main entrance to the quarry blocked off by more huge stones, almost chest high for me, less so for J. We didn’t go in today, the flat areas on either side of the blocking stones were heavily iced over.

Close by is the old explosives store …..

….. and the front view of it. The pile of stones over on the left marks the entrance to the quarry.

The view across Gaythorne Plain with the North Pennines behind it. What the cows up there on the hill were finding to eat I have no idea. Perhaps they enjoy crisp, frosty heather.

On the mine access road now and looking over at Cross Fell and its North Pennine neighbours.

Don’t like the path you’re on? You can always try this one or any of the numerous others which keep appearing, today we kept to the access road.

A look back from the access road. Its just turned three o’clock so the views begin to take on a golden hue.

The Lakeland fells come back into view as we approach the car park at the end of the access road. With a zoom in, and a bit of squinting, Blencathra is just about visible.

Looking back along the B6260 as we walk back to the car from the access road parking area. That is always the most popular parking area and plenty of people were out walking this afternoon.

Back at the old quarry car park just before half past three and time for a couple of shots to catch the last of the afternoon light. This is the route up to Beacon Hill …..

….. and the landscape below it with the Howgills in the distance. The sun is low in the sky, covering the land with its golden light, and the day is coming to an end. So too is the year so we’ll wish you all a very Happy New Year, thank you for viewing our site, and bring today’s short walk to a close with a few lines from one of England’s best known poets:

Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow,

The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.


Alfred, Lord Tennyson.