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Nine Standards Rigg: The Ultimate Walking Guide

Nine Standards Rigg: The Ultimate Walking Guide

Nine Standards Rigg is the name of the summit of Hartley Fell, which is located in the northwest of England. Although some of Hartley Fell lies in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nine Standards Rigg lies in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, just some 700 metres north of the Yorkshire Dales. Of course, the Nine Standards Rigg is most well-known for the Nine Standards, which is a set of rock cairns located just north of Nine Standards Rigg. By doing the Nine Standards Rigg Walk from Kirkby Stephen, you can explore the fascinating cairns and enjoy windswept and wild English countryside and moorlands.

We hope you find this guide helpful. For information about other great nearby walking routes, read our guides about Cautley Spout, Wild Boar Fell and the Kelds Waterfall Walk (coming soon). Otherwise, read our big Yorkshire Dales walks guide (also coming soon).

Nine Standards Rigg History and Walk Overview

The Nine Standards Rigg summit owes its name to the prominent landmark located just north of it – the Nine Standards. It’s thought that the nine prominent large cairns have existed since at least the 13th Century. Although, today’s cairns aren’t the originals. The cairns have been rebuilt and refurbished numerous times, to replace the older cairns that were in poor condition. The most recent of these refurbishments was in 2005. It’s even thought that there may have been more than nine cairns originally.

Many people believe that Wainwright purposefully factored in the Nine Standards when designing the famous multi-day Coast to Coast Walk. Although, given the boggy terrain of Hartley Fell, particularly in the wetter months, there have been many route variations that now bypass Nine Standards Rigg.

Thankfully, it’s possible to explore Nine Standards Rigg from Kirkby Stephen on a day hike. Also known as the Nine Standards Rigg Circular Walk (albeit the trail is a bit more of a balloon-type trail), you can easily access the Nine Standards monument. Perched high above the Upper Eden Valley, you’ll enjoy visiting this attraction on a lesser-known and quieter walk.

Nine Standards Rigg, seen on the Nine Standards Rigg Walk from Kirkby Stephen
Nine Standards

Nine Standards Rigg Walk Route Details Summary

Before we describe the Nine Standards Rigg Walk, let’s have a look at some trail specs of the walk starting from Kirkby Stephen.


The Nine Standards Rigg Walk described in this guide is approx. 14.9km.


On average, the Nine Standards Rigg Walk from Kirkby Stephen takes around 3.5–5.5 hours.

Elevation Gain

You’ll find the walk has around 500 metres of elevation gain. Starting at around 166 metres above sea level, in Kirkby Stephen, you’ll rise to a maximum elevation gain of approx. 662 metres at the Nine Standards Rigg.

Elevation profile of the Nine Standards Rigg Walk from Kirkby Stephen


Personally, we considered the Nine Standards Rigg Walk from Kirkby Stephen to be of moderate difficulty. We’ve given this difficulty rating because of the length of the walk, the sometimes boggy terrain and the somewhat challenging navigation around the Nine Standards Rigg.

Safety: Hazards

As mentioned, trail navigation isn’t straightforward when you’re negotiating the undefined trails around the Nine Standards Rigg. In particular, after passing the Nine Standards and reaching the summit of Nine Standards Rigg, trail navigation and terrain can be tricky on the descent. So, in poor weather, take extra care. Certainly, make sure to have a map on you.

Nine Standards Rigg Walk Map

Below, you’ll find a map of the Nine Standards Rigg Walk from Kirkby Stephen.

GPS-guide map: Wikiloc

Grid Reference for Nine Standards Rigg: NY825061

Ordnance Survey Map: OL19

Nine Standards Rigg Walk Route Description

In this trail description, we’ll talk about the highlights of the Nine Standards Rigg Walk from Kirkby Stephen.

An alpaca seen on the Nine Standards Rigg Walk from Kirkby Stephen
You might even see this friendly alpaca during the walk!

Nine Standards Rigg Walk Trailhead: Kirkby Stephen

In terms of Nine Standards Rigg parking, we recommend this large free car park in Kirkby Stephen. Personally, this is where Beck and I started the Nine Standards Rigg Walk.

Dan walks up a grassy hill with sheep in the background

Nine Standards

After passing through the charming town of Kirkby Stephen, you’ll cross a bridge over the River Eden. You’ll then follow a charming trail, through Hartley, known as Hartley Lane. Soon enough, you’ll follow Birkett Lane, as you ascend and wind around the huge Hartley Quarries.

Eventually, you’ll pass Birkett Hill to your right, as you continue along the increasingly steepening path. Meeting Faraday Gill, you’ll now enter the wild moorlands of Hartley Fell. The trail provides sweeping views of the Eden Valley and soon reaches the interesting Nine Standards. Certainly, the Nine Standards are worth exploring before continuing to the summit – Nine Standards Rigg.

Nine Standards Rigg

From the Nine Standards, you’ll head south, only around 200 metres to reach the Nine Standards Rigg. As mentioned, this is the summit of Hartley Fell. Expect to see unkept and sweeping moorland around Hartley Fell. Close by, you’ll find a trig point that marks the watershed divide across England. From this trig point, the rivers flow west toward the Irish Sea and east toward the North Sea. Indeed, it’s an intriguing area to explore!

After finding the trip point, you’ll descend Nine Standards Rigg, soon re-joining the trail beside Faraday Gill. Trail navigation to re-join the trail can be tricky, so be prepared with a map. You’ll then retrace your steps back to Kirkby Stephen to finish the Nine Standards Rigg Walk.

Other Nine Standards Rigg Walks

You’ll find there are a couple of other less-fancied routes involving Nine Standards Rigg. It’s possible to walk to Nine Standards Rigg from Nateby, or, more specifically, from the B6270 road between Nateby and Keld. But, given the poor terrain of this alternative trail, we don’t recommend it.

How to Get to Kirkby Stephen

The easiest and quickest way to get to Kirkby Stephen is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car using You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars, which are very easy to book online.

It’s also possible to use public transport to get to Kirkby Stephen. From Leeds, you can get a direct train to Kirkby Stephen. Check the train times and prices here. We recommend using Google Maps to plan your journey. Although, personally, we don’t recommend using public transport to get to Kirkby Stephen as you’ll likely have a long-winded journey to get there if you’re travelling from further afield in the UK. Certainly, it’s best to drive to Kirkby Stephen yourself.

Nine Standards Rigg Weather Forecast

As mentioned, trail navigation is much harder on the Nine Standards Rigg Walk in poor weather. For a simpler and easier walk, try and do it when the weather is better. For the latest forecast, check here.

Nearby Attractions in the Yorkshire Dales

Below, we’ve listed some of the other best places to visit and walks to do nearby in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (guides coming soon).

  • Aysgarth Falls: explore the truly spectacular Lower, Middle and Upper Aysgarth Falls.
  • Cauldron Falls (West Burton Falls): a lesser-known waterfall that’s nearby Aysgarth Falls.
  • Hardraw Force: one of the most famous waterfalls in Yorkshire after featuring in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.
  • Cautley Spout: England’s highest waterfall above ground, can be seen on a walk via Howgill Fell.
  • Muker and Keld Circular Walk: you’ll explore the sublime Upper Swaledale, whilst stopping in at the upper and lower East Gill Force.
  • Keld Waterfalls Walk: go waterfall chasing in Keld! You’ll see Catrake Force, Wain Wath Force, Kisdon Force, Currack Force and East Gill Force.
  • Wild Boar Fell Walk: another lesser-known walk for the Yorkshire Dales diehards.

Recommended Maps and Guidebooks

If you’re after an official map for the Nine Standards Rigg Walk, you can buy the OS map.

If you’re interested in a guidebook, we think Walking in the Yorkshire Dales is one of the best.

Hiking Essentials

These are our five hiking gear essentials for the Nine Standards Rigg Walk.

For a longer hiking gear list, read our 66 Travel Items You Must Travel With. For a list of everything else you’d need for travelling, read our Packing Checklist.

Bonus Tips

  • Hang around at Kirkby Stephen: after doing the walk, head to a cafe, a pub or an independent store. Indeed, there’s much to see in this small charming town.
  • This walk shouldn’t be at the top of your Dales to-do list: honestly speaking, it’s a walk that Beck and I enjoyed. But, it doesn’t trump the more popular and well-renowned walks in the area.
  • Explore other nearby national parks: don’t just stop at the Yorkshire Dales. Head to the beautiful Lake District (guides coming soon) to hike the famous Scafell Pike. Otherwise, you should visit the underrated North York Moors National Park.

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