10 reasons to visit the Eden Valley

The Eden Valley certainly lives up to its name but the path there is less travelled than its Lakeland neighbour

Few people would fail – we hope – to find the Lake District on a map of England. But the Eden Valley? That’s another matter.

It’s a shame because this substantial section of our northern territory has some tremendously dramatic scenery and some pretty towns and villages. The common thread running through them is the River Eden, one of the country’s great rivers providing sport for salmon and trout fishermen, a challenge for canoeists and some lovely landscapes for walkers and cyclists.

Appleby, Penrith, Kirkby Stephen and Brough make good bases if you are planning a short break but there are many small villages between the Pennines and the Lakeland fells. Here’s a flavour of what to expect

Appleby The apple of every Eden visitor’s eye should be the town of Appleby. The town is most famous for its iconic horse fair in June but it has much more to offer. There are some lovely riverside walks, a cafe culture, fabulous historic buildings such as St Lawrence’s Church, the Moot Hall and the Hospital of St Anne. Its main street, Boroughgate, is regarded as one of the finest in England, marked with crosses at either end. Add to this a history indelibly linked with the amazing 16th Century figure, Lady Anne Clifford, who built or restored many of the buildings in Appleby, and it’s a great starting point for Eden exploration.

A little tipple Being tempted by a tipple is easy in Eden, where there are several micro-breweries including the Tirril Brewery (Long Marton, Tel:017683 61846) and the Nine Standards Brewery (Kirkby Stephen, Tel: 01768 371389), which can be visited by appointment. If beer isn’t your thing, you could get a group together and head to High Cup Wines (017683 53714) at the Townhead Farm to find out more about their delightful range of fruit wines.

Serene Cycling Eden is a haven for those yearning for the freedom of two wheels with quiet roads and stunning views. With natural assets in abundance, Eden has a variety of extraordinary cycle routes to follow, available at www.visiteden.co.uk, whether you wish to explore Appleby and Kirkby Stephen, Ullswater, Penrith, or a higher route around Alston, on the edge of the North Pennines. Kirkby Stephen is positioned on the Coast to Coast route and the Pennine Cycleway and boasts both the Eden Valley Circular Cycle Route and part of the Wheels to the Wild route making it a truly attractive base.

A sweet place Eden is a paradise for those with a sweet-toothed, with the world-famous Toffee Shop in Penrith, as frequented by Prince Charles, Kennedy’s Fine Chocolates with its delicious handmade temptations in its shop in Orton and a variety of other fudge and chocolate makers.

Fresh and local Staying with a Nurture Eden member see www.agreeneden.org gives you every opportunity to be introduced to delights of farm fresh and local produce, whether that is home-cured bacon at Drybeck Farm, or cheeses from the Appleby Creamery. Just one taste and you’ll be hooked on the tastes of Eden. The farmers’ market at Orton is an award winner.

Romance of steam The Settle to Carlisle Railway runs through the lush rolling hills of the Eden Valley, offering spectacular views as it travels across viaducts and, on special charter days, beckoning to anyone who is seduced by the romance of steam. Trains call at the Eden towns and villages of Kirkby Stephen, Appleby, Langwathby, Lazonby and Armathwaite on the route between Settle and Carlisle and guided walks can be taken from stations, giving you every reason to leave the car behind.

Grab your boots Eden is unspoilt, undiscovered and undeniably different, something that strikes anyone taking to exploration on two feet. From walking routes leading from the lakeshore at Ullswater, to those that will take you through empty countryside that could have a castle or a cairn just around the corner, Eden is walking heaven. Buy yourself some walking boots, choose a base at which to park up the car and then explore Eden to your heart’s content

Antique Allure If you love exploring the past, the antiques haven of Kirkby Stephen is the place for you. Take the Settle to Carlisle train, hop off at Kirkby Stephen station and spend time getting to know the town and its many shops.

Eden by evening Watching the sun set over the serene Eden Valley, behind Helvellyn after a lake cruise with Ullswater Steamers, or around the incredibly atmospheric stone circle of Long Meg and her Daughters is the stuff of which memories for a lifetime are made.

Nostalgic charm Those wishing to step back in time will find almost nothing as enchanting as the joy of hopping aboard a Classic Coaches heritage bus from the Eden village of Ravenstonedale or from Kirkby Stephen and heading off for the day to explore a yet undiscovered location such as Barnard Castle via the High Force waterfall, or the Dales town of Hawes, where the Wensleydale Creamery awaits cheese lovers. A hail and ride service is also available for those wishing to ride on board one of the 1940s and 1950s buses and see amazing scenery, as well as sights such as the heritage-rich Pendragon Castle, reputed to have been the family home of King Arthur.


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