Where is this walk?

Ancient Castles of Mallerstang

July 22, 2019

The two ancient castles of Mallerstang offer a focus for the walk. The walk itself from Kirkby Stephen keeps close to the River Eden. The backdrop of Wild Boar Fell adds to one of my favourite walks.

The Walk

Mallerstang is a glorious valley that is not only pretty to look at, unspoilt but also steeped in history. The upper reaches of the River Eden flow through the valley, which runs south from Kirkby Stephen, with the river banks offering pleasant walking and ever hanging views. I set off from the train station but the walk is just as pleasant from the town centre of Kirkby Stephen. My ultimate goal was the ruins of Pendragon Castle but the valley is so attractive that an A to B walk using the railway may be preferable with a walk down the full length of the valley an attractive proposition.

The two ancient castles of Mallerstang are crumbling reminders of the difficulties of living in medieval times in northern England. The towers were built to keep out the marauding Scots and were part of a system of Pele towers strewn across northern England. Allegedly Pendragon was first built much earlier by King Arthur’s father but this is probably just a romantic story; both castles are however built on raised grounds with splendid views to the north. Both lie in peaceful and unspoilt spots which, if positioned elsewhere, would be frantic with visitors, have a tea shop and incur some kind of charge. I saw not another soul whilst sat under the castle walls – one of the great pleasures of walking in these parts.


The train station does offer genuinely awe inspiring views up Mallerstang.

Navigation Tips in Mallerstang

This is one of the few occasions where a road (albeit quiet) is better than the paths. On the return between Pendragon Castle and Nateby the paths are rough and awkward but the road is quiet and sticks close to the river.

  • Bob White says:

    Most enjoyable walk. The weather was good, mind. Gets a bit wet and messy as you approach Pendragon.

  • Roger Barlow says:

    I did this hike on a soggy day last June (2012) from Hartley where my girlfriend has a cottage. Pendragon is worth the walk. I thought I was alone upon arrival, but several faces of local residents peeked forth from a castle alcove to see who might be about. Asking if they were damp, they responded with a resounding “Baaaa”. Nice views of the River Eden. Lammerside is interesting.

    I spent 5 hours doing the circut, but spent time (an hour?) at Pendragon taking pictures and just “being there”, and obtaining a refreshing beverage in Kirkby Stephen. I do like the Kings Arms for a meal, a pint of Aviator Ale, and Cumberland Sausage & Mash is a good experience.


  • Andrew Cavan says:


    Mallerstang castles looks like a great walk. Am thinking about doing this tomorrow.

    Approx how long do you think it will take ?

    Many thanks


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