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Alston, Ayle, Richardsons Well, Tarn Rigg, Cumbria/Northumberland.
[10.1 km]  Thu 11 Oct 2018

Lat/Long: 54.840171, -02.410971
OS Grid ref: NY 73704 49561

Yesterday was hazy sun and very warm at 24degC. This morning it is still warm at around 15degC but very hazy and grey. Driving north along the M6 it seemed to threaten heavy rain but none arrived. I left the motorway at Penrith and headed East along the A686. On the drive up Hartside Pass I noticed a lot of resurfacing work had been done. However it was very sad to reach the summit and see the Hartside Top Cafe was a burnt-out shell after the fire in March earlier this year. I continued over the top and descended down to Alston where there were traffic restrictions on the right turn to the A689. There was a lot of machinery on site to resurface the road and I wonder if they are going to remove the cobbles. I continued on the A686 to a lay-by where I left my car. I continued walking uphill for a short way and then turned left down a very rough farm track near Clargill Head. It is a public right of way and descends by the pine plantation to the left. I reached a surface road and turn left for a while between some dilapidated buildings and site of the old colliery. Then I reached the main minor road where I turned right to descend down to Ayle Burn and over the bridge. The burn is also the county boundary as I walked from Cumbria into Northumberland. The weather was still very gloomy and overcast but felt very warm. I continued on the road along a steady climb along the south side of Ayle Common. Between the collection of buildings known as Ayle were some very picturesque cottages. I met a runner who came up from behind with his dog and he stopped briefly for a chat before continuing.

Ayle cottage
Shortly after leaving the buildings I came to a gate on my right leading to a Rough track heading up onto the moors. This was my route and I walked steadily upwards between some areas of large boulders which look as though they could have been part of some quarry workings. The track climbed steadily in a northerly direction and easy going under foot. On the final approach to the summit point at Kip Law I noticed a strange triangular shaped cairn at the junction of the walls.
Kip Law cairn

Ruin near Richardson's Well
It was still warm but a fairly strong southerly wind on my back. I climbed the wall at a very dilapidated wooden style and on the far side could see down below to a ruin I'd seen on the map. There was no description but it looked substantial so I descended through very rough ground to reach it. I arrived to find a two-story ruin and not too large in plan. The east wall was still at almost full height and the outline of the main door was visible on the north wall.
Cast iron oven next to the ruin
I couldn't see any evidence of mine workings nearby and it seemed rather substantial for a shepherd's hut. Marked on the map is Richardsonís well a short distance to the east. It is also called Rickardsonís Well on the 1890s map. I walked across to it and found it was a well-constructed stone sided rectangular well about 1 m deep but the inflow stream was not running so it was dry.
Richardson's Well or Rickardson's Well

1890s map showing Rickardson's Well
I can only assume it was connected with the ruin I'd just visited. I continued east through very rough ground but thankfully not boggy. My objective was to re-join the fence line across Liplaw Moss and I managed to avoid the boggy area shown on the map. As I climbed the gentle rise to Tarn Rigg the going under foot was relatively easy. Over the top I came to an area of large stones in a rubble pile which seeming to have been part of a structure in the past.
Looking down Ayle Burn
The fence descended to a gate where I climbed over and started my descent back to the road. Firstly I visited a bield sheep shelter wall then followed a quad-bike track easily down the hillside. I passed a waterfall to the right with an impressive view down the Valley. I continued generally east across some rough ground but a quad-bike track made the going relatively easy. I reach the A686 and then an easy walk back down hill to my car.
Milestone on the A686

Burnt out shell

Hartside Top Cafe

On my way home I stopped for a look at the burnt out ruin of the Hartside Top Cafe

Hartside Top Cafe

Hartside Cafe in the 1940s