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60. Spadeadam Forest

start: Gilsland
distance: 30 miles
OS map: 86

Spadeadam Forest route mapThis is a mixed route on road, and over moorland and forest track which circumnavigates Spadeadam, an MOD base. Look out for red flags when parts of the forest are closed off - this doesn't affect our route which has year-round access. Be advised, though, that it crosses bleak country if the weather turns foul and there is an unavoidable river crossing...

Take the B6318 heading west out of Gilsland towards nowhere in particular. The road meanders for about six miles to a crossroads at (550 676) with a R turn to Bewcastle. There used to be a pub here called the Lime Kiln Inn but unfortunately this closed some years ago, although it may still be marked on some older maps. This is actually part of the Reivers' Way C2C cycle route.

Take a few minutes to visit the small graveyard at St Cuthbert's Church which is home to the Bewcastle Cross. It's been here since the 7th or 8th century and there's a building just a few yards away which houses an exhibition detailing the history of the cross and the local area.

From Bewcastle there's a climb to the top of the hill where you take a R turn at (561 759) heading towards the forest. We're on a track now and this is bleak open moorland with a remote feel to it. Still climbing gently and there are views behind you towards the Lake District. You'll pass through several gates before swinging R to another gate at the edge of the forest.

Go through the gate but take a L turn, rather than going straight on. There is some slight uphill but then partly open downhill stretches to reach a ford at (645 773). You're just going to get wet feet here. A little further on sees a track going left and climbers may wish to take a slight detour to Padda Crag. Access is by foot, following a small stream off the track at (648 785).

Our route, though, continues to Churnsike Lodge where we join the surfaced road. It's still a fair way back to Gilsland but there are good views to the south and it's generally downhill vaguely following the Butter Burn.

jb, galashiels

Download GPS data in GPX format.

track through Spadeadam

track through Spadeadam

Spadeadam Forest, river crossing

Spadeadam Forest, river crossing

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