Cumbrian Pennines & Eden

Jonathan’s View

“Endless walking opportunities in this sadly neglected corner of England”

Many walkers would disagree with the term ‘sadly’ as it is the peace and tranquility of the area which attracts the Cumbrian Pennine devotees to return on a regular basis. Over the years I have tended to dip in to the area but then headed for the ever popular Lake District (which hovers tantalisingly on the skyline) without really exploring it properly.

Cross Fell, High Cup Nick, Mallerstang, Cow Green Reservoir and Talkin Tarn are the headline grabbers but it is the lonely moors, the endless skies and the undisturbed wildlife which are the areas best secret. I have sat for hours just soaking in the haunting beauty of the area without seeing a soul, whether lazing on the banks of the embryonic Tyne or beside a discreet cairn high on a moorland fell.

The exception to this of course is the Pennine Way which strikes like an arrow (albeit slightly bendy arrow) through the Cumbrian Pennines bringing many visitors to Alston and Kirkby Stephen. The path is very eroded in places and out of character with the tranquil beauty of the region but it is these walkers that spread the word; many I have spoken to express the opinion that the lonely moors and embyonic Tyne Valley represent the Pennine Way’s most enjoyable section, often unexpected but full of character and a genuine walking wilderness. I have not done the Pennine Way myself but I have a feeling I would agree.

Kirkby Stephen, Appleby and Brough are fascinating small market towns and offer a great base for any walking holiday; with Dufton a hidden gem, perfectly sited on the Pennine Way and with easy access (if the legs are working well) for Cross Fell, High Cup Nick and the Pennine Way itself. The River Eden winds gracefully through the wide valleys and creates a contrasting character lacking in the more mountainous area of the north of England.

Middleton in Teesdale is barely 10 miles from Brough to the north east and is the home for Cow Green Reservoir and some top notch walking routes, many inspired by the incomparable Alfred Wainwright on his Pennine Journey.

Heading up Weardale, past the highest village in England Nenthead at 1500 foot  soon brings you to the upper reaches of the Tyne at Alston. Alston is a fascinating market town, perfect for a week’s stay (or even a few days) with the cobbled streets hiding a genuine history and the excellent South Tyndale Railway on the doorstep. To the south the valley narrows and approaches the attractive village of Garrigill , a tranquil scene and a heaven for those dropping off Cross Fell on the Pennine Way.

The Tyne though heads north past the wonderfully named Slaggyford before continuing its journey east along Hadrian’s Wall towards the sea near Newcastle. However it is worth turning west rather than east and visiting Talkin Tarn on a stay in one of Cumbria’s best towns Brampton.

However there is one particular area where I strongly advise you not to visit in any stay in the Cumbrian Pennines and that is Mickle Fell (to the north of Brough). If you do not drown in the worst peat bogs in Britain (and there are some shockers in Scotland) you will be shot by the army on training exercises – if you have to visit the summit, because that is what you do, be prepared for 4 hours of purgatory!

The Cumbrian Pennines stretch from Kirkby Stephen in the south to Brampton, near the A69 to the north, whilst the M6 offers an obvious barrier to the west.

Best Walks

Cross Fell from Garrigill. Long climb to the highest point in England outside the Lake District

Ashgill Force from Garrigill. A short walk to a pretty waterfall with some pleasant riverside walking

An Alston Discovery. Out by one of the remotest parts of the Pennine Way, returning via the South Tyne Trail

The Tyne at Garrigill. The embryonic South Tyne is the backdrop to a short riverside walk near Alston

Mines & Lands of Nenthead. An easy walk through this purpose built lead mining area

South Tyne Trail. A one way walk along the easy South Tyne Trail includes a trip on a narrow gauge steam engine.

From Nenthead to Garrigill. Walking through some high lonely moorlands between two interesting villages

Melmerby Fell. High level walking along the spine of the Cross Fell ridge

High Cup Nick A classic U shaped valley and a famous geological landmark on a walk from Dufton

Great Dun Fell from Dufton. Aim for Cross Fell but stop at the satelite station at High Dun Fell in the midst of the Pennines

Dufton Pike. A pointy peak totally at odds with the surrounding moors, a great vantage point

Cow Green Reservoir. The spectacular waterfalls and haunting nature of the Pennines characterise this walk

A Brough Circular. A short walk from the ruins of Brough Castle across some wild, but low country

A Walk from Temple Sowerby. Another short riverside walk near Penrith from a lovely small village

Smardale Gill & Moors. A dramatic gorge hides some beautiful woodland and topped by some grand old viaducts

Moors of Crosby Ravensworth. Using part of the Coast to Coast with some excellent long distance views

Limestone Pavements over Orton. An excellent example of limestone scenery high above the village of Orton

River Lyvennet Villages . A short walk between two villages in a little visited part of Cumbria

Ancient Castles of Mallerstang. This intriguing valley is full of history and beauty and can be started direct from Kirkby Stephen.

Nine Standards Rigg. A good path from Kirkby Stephen climbs the mountain with the 9 stone pillars on the summit.

Killing Grounds of the Wild Boar. A climb up Wild Boar Fell from Mallerstang with superb views from the large summit plateau.


Other Things to do in the Cumbrian Pennines

North Pennines AONB Explaining the work and successes of the partnership that manages this beautiful area

South Tynedale Railway Details on one of the most scenic railways in the country

Places to Stay

Beck House Farm Caravans , Howgill, near Sedbergh

Crake Trees Manor, Crosby Ravensworth

Cottages in the Dales

Updated Weather Forecast

This Weather Widget is provided by the Met Office

Click here to go to the Met Office website for a 5 day weather forecast for the Penrith area.

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