Stainmore Railway Company at Kirkby Stephen East

The nine stone cairns on top of the hill above Kirkby Stephen are known as the Nine Standards. They sit on top of Nine Standards Rigg and they are an iconic landmark which can be clearly viewed from Kirkby Stephen East Station. The cairns are believed to be of Roman origin and are thought to have been erected to represent a line of troops on the hill. Nine Standards Rigg is 2,172 ft (662 m) above sea level and it forms the watershed of England with water flowing to the North Sea to the East and the Irish Sea to the west. The Visit Cumbria webpages have a wide range of photographs of the area including this excellent Simon Leadingham shot.

An ariel view of the Nine Standards Copyright Simon Leadingham

There are a number of routes that you can take to reach the Nine Standards which vary in difficulty. Due to the difficult nature of the terrain wheelchair access is extremely challenging and the ground is stoney and very uneven.
This area is subject to sudden changes in weather and the terrain is difficult at times so you should come fully prepared for the fells and have a compass and map. Please stick to the existing tracks and respect the privacy of people who live close to the route*.
The grid references quoted are 1:25,000 OS Explorer OL19. This information is from the Friends of the Nine Standards website.

  • Classic Approach from Kirkby Stephen start NY777087 (165m elevation)
    • Two possible approaches
      • Go through Hartley Village up the fell road (tarmac) past the quarry towards Fell House*
      • Walk past NY785072 and Ewbank Scar to Ladthwaite* (you willl find this more challenging but very rewarding due to the spectacular limestone rock formations that you walk through)
    • Both routes then join to pass up Hartley Fell and Faraday Gill to the Nine Standards NY824066 (650m)
    • Total distance 6km and 485m climb
  • Tailbrigg Approach from B6270 (Nateby / Reeth Road)
      • Start NY809043 at 510m elevation bridleway signpost
      • Follow the track NNE past the head of Dukerdale
      • Cross Rigg Beck
      • Climb to a carin NY817058 passing onto to the panoroma carin NY817058
    • This route is not well marked when you get to the cairns and you will need a compass for the last section in poor visibility
    • Total distance 3km and 140m climb
  •  Birkdale Common Approach via Coldbergh Edge from the Nateby / Reeeth Road
      • Start NY831028 at 460m elevation
      • Climb to NY836028
      • At 510m head NNW along Colbergh Edge to the Nine Standards NY824066
    • Total distance 5km and 190m climb
  • Tan Hill Approach (no path and rough going)
      • Start at Tan Hill Road NY877085 elevation 490m
      • Follow the old mine road WSW along the watershed
      • SW to Brownber Tarn NY857068  (3 km)
      • Follow W along Browner Edge for 3.5 km to reach the Nine Standards
    • Total distance 6.5km and 160m climb