The North Pennines (AONB) – a special place to visit!

A special place to visit!

The North Pennines is one of England’s most special places – a stunning, upland landscape of wide-open moors, flower-rich hay meadows, intimate woods, inky-black night skies, charismatic wildlife, fascinating industrial heritage, tumbling rivers and dramatic waterfalls.

Here you will find a peaceful, unspoilt landscape with a rich history and vibrant natural beauty, and at almost 2,000 sq. km it is the second largest of the 46 AONBs (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland). It is surely one of the most peaceful and unspoilt places in England.

Beneath your feet

In recognition of its world class Earth heritage and efforts to make the most of this for tourism and education, it is also designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark. The impressive landscape of the North Pennines – from High Force on the River Tees to the sweeping valley of High Cup Gill above Dufton – are the product of millions of years of geological processes.

Rocks are the building blocks of the wonderful North Pennine landscape. The area’s fells and dales, and the rocks, minerals and fossils of which they are made, tell a fascinating story – one which stretches back hundreds of millions of years. The geological story of the North Pennines tells a story of deep oceans and violent volcanoes, colliding continents and molten rock, tropical seas and lush rainforests, hot water and minerals, desert dunes and vast ice sheets.

Over the past 500 million years the North Pennines has travelled over the surface of the globe and been shaped by many environments and processes. Volcanoes, tropical seas, rainforests, molten rock, deserts and ice sheets have all helped create today’s landscape. By exploring the fells and dales, you’ll discover the North Pennines’ remarkable journey through time, and a rich industrial heritage linked to the area’s rocks and minerals.

Jewel of the North

The area is famous for its distinctive landscape of high moorland, peat bog, and broad, dramatic, dales – including the upland stretches of the Tees, Wear and Tyne rivers. It shares a boundary with the Yorkshire Dales National Park in the south and extends as far as the Tyne Valley, just south of Hadrian’s Wall, in the north. Parts of the area are in the counties of Durham, Cumbria and Northumberland.

Tumbling waterfalls, sweeping moorland views, dramatic dales, stone-built villages, snaking stone walls and friendly faces – are what visitors to the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark can expect to find.

People and places

The character of the North Pennines landscape is inseparable from the people and places found here. The differing nature of settlements, from the distinctive red sandstone villages at the foot of the North Pennines escarpment to the white farms and barns of the Raby Estate in Teesdale, has a significant impact on landscape character.

Past times

About 12,000 people live in the North Pennines today – less than half the number who lived here 150 years ago in the heyday of the lead mining industry. The rise and fall of mining has left an indelible imprint on the landscape, not just in terms of the physical remains but also in the pattern of local settlement. The social history of the miner-farmers is also an intriguing element that contributes to the story of the North Pennines.

Nature galore

The North Pennines is a hotspot for nature – famous for the variety and profusion of plants and animals which find a home here. Eighty percent of the area benefits from nature-friendly, traditional farming practices, which means that the AONB is a haven for wildlife.

Sparkling night skies

The North Pennines is officially the darkest mainland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Here we have some of England’s darkest night skies. The area’s inky black skies mean that jaw-dropping stargazing opportunities are aplenty, on a clear night – with the opportunity to see thousands of stars overhead compared to the handful you would see from towns and cities. See our home galaxy, the Milky Way, in all its shimmering glory, along with distant galaxies and sparkling star clusters. You will find lots of officially designated Dark Sky Discovery Sites too – so come over to the ‘dark side’ and enjoy our stunning skies.

Alston and the Cumbrian North Pennines

The countryside around Alston, England’s highest market town, provides some of the area’s finest walking country – including the lofty Cross Fell – the highest English hill outside the Lake District. The striking North Pennines escarpment is a dramatic backdrop to the attractive, red sandstone-built, fell foot villages.

Kirkby Stephen in the south of the area is a traditional, bustling market town full of historic buildings and cobbled yards – a good launch pad for climbing Nine Standards Rigg.

In the North Pennines you’ll find:

  • Peace, tranquillity and space to catch your breath
  • England biggest waterfall – High Force in Upper Teesdale
  • Almost 40% of the UK’s flower-filled upland hay meadows
  • Inky-black night skies – some of the darkest in England. The North Pennines is the darkest mainland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • 80% of England’s black grouse
  • Short-eared owls, ring ouzel, snipe and redshank
  • 22,000 pairs of breeding wading birds in the spring and early summer
  • Red squirrels, otters and rare arctic-alpine plants

4 great reasons to make Shepherds View the base for your next staycation

As we all get used to the new norms of a post lockdown world there has been a massive surge in people looking for staycations in the UK. Many have turned to the standard honey-pots of Devon and Cornwall or the Lakes, which can only lead to an increase in these areas of visitor numbers and indeed prices. It’s time to think again and look a little further afield at an area of equal beauty, but far less crowded, the Eden Valley on the eastern edge of Cumbria.

Shepherds View could be just what you are looking for and here are 4 great reasons why:-

1. Stay In!

You don’t have to be big on the outdoors to come here. We’ve got the Visit England 5 star gold award for a reason. If your idea of a good holiday is finishing off some books in peace and quiet then why not sit in our feature window with a glorious view changing in front of you by the hour. We are complimented on our well-equipped kitchen so you won’t have to remember to bring with you any of your essential kitchen utensils. Take a well-earned soak in our jacuzzi bath and enjoy one of the hydrotherapy programmes, or binge watch a couple of series on Netflix with the log burner keeping you toasty. Whenever the weather allows then we have a private garden for you to sit and relax in as well.

Did we mention the bed? The superking with Hypnos mattress is frequently mentioned by guests and is designed to give you a great nights sleep ready for tomorrows adventures (or relaxation)!

2. Leave the Car!

You don’t have to drive anywhere if you don’t want to. There are numerous walks from the door of differing lengths and ability, and we’ve written them up for you so that you get a flavour of our beautiful area. Of course, you might want to walk up the jewel of the Pennines, High Cup, but we’ve got you covered on this one as well, even suggesting a quieter alternative route to the more popular way. If cycling is your thing then we have safe storage for you, and we’ve drawn out some of our favourite cycle routes for you along the quiet lanes linking the pretty fellside villages.

3. Take the Car!

If you want to explore then Dufton is such a great location to drive out from. Ullswater, with all it has to offer is only 25 minutes drive away, and Keswick on Derwent Water only 45 minutes. Similarly, if you want to go to High Force in Teesdale then you are only 45 minutes drive as well, and the Eden is also on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Other than travelling into the Lakes many of these routes are less busy and so you can expect a much more pleasant journey. Finally if you want to get your eyes tested then Barnard Castle is only a short trip east along the A66!

4. Eat Out!

We are lucky enough to have a great pub, the Stag, in Dufton. Only a 2 minute walk from the cottage if you don’t feel like cooking then you can’t go wrong here. The pub has a great reputation for good wholesome food and great beer, and what could be better after a long walk or bike ride!

We’re Good to Go!

We’re so excited and are looking forward to re-opening to our guests from Saturday 4th July.

We are taking all the necessary steps so that our guests can be reassured when they visit us. We have a Covid risk assessment in place and we are following government and industry Covid-19 guidelines, and we have processes in place to maintain cleanliness and social distancing.

More importantly the Eden valley is still stunning, with so much to offer for those looking for a more laid back pace of life. Plenty of great walking, quiet lanes to cycle along, and pretty towns and villages to visit.

Grand Canyon of the North

One of the many reasons people visit the Eden Valley is for the peace and tranquility away from the crowded Lake District.  Whether walking or cycling you will find the lanes and footpaths much less trodden in this part of Cumbria.

The walking may not be quite so high, but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular.  Probably the most famous example is the renowned High Cup Nick, nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the North of England with its magnificent bowl shape carved out of the Pennines by ancient glaziers. It’s also on the Pennine Way and is a wonderful sight after a long trudge across from Middleton in Teesdale, and signifies that a well earned pint at the Stag in Dufton is soon to be enjoyed.

However, the beauty of staying in Dufton is that the 4 mile walk to the Nick is easily accessible from Shepherds View without taking the car, as the route up to High Cup starts in the village.  It is a popular but not crowded walk, particularly in the summer, and it is well worth the effort as the view, which you only get near the end, is stunning.

As an alternative our favoured approach is from Murton, the next village on from Dufton.  You can park in the village car park and follow a well marked route up the edge of Murton Pike before eventually bursting out on to High Cup itself.  Returning back down the eastern shoulder the overall route is a lot easier and less trodden than the Pennine Way and you enjoy stunning views of High Cup and the Eden Valley seemingly for far longer.  Round trip of c.8 miles in less than 4 hours including plenty of time to rest and enjoy lunch and the views!

High Cup Nick

Award Winning Cumbrian Food

Michelin Star Winners 2020

With 3 restaurants in Cumbria newly awarded 1 Michelin Star the area has much to recommend for those seeking culinary delights. Together with the 4 existing star holders the region now boasts 7 restaurants with a total of 8 stars.

The new 2020 Michelin award winners are The Cottage in the Woods at Whinlatter, the Old Stamp House in Ambleside and Allium at Askham Hall, near Penrith.

Retaining their 2 stars are L’Enclume in Cartmel, while Rogan & Co also in Cartmel, Hrishi at the Gilpin Hotel in Windermere, and Forest Side at Grasmere kept their single stars.

In addition, gastro pub The Dog and Gun at Skelton retained its Bib Gourmand award which denotes food judged to be of good quality and good value by the inspectors.

AA Rosette Awards

Also worth considering are the House at Temple Sowerby and the Black Swan at Ravenstonedale. Both have been awarded 2 rosettes for culinary excellence and showcase the best of locally sourced food, driven by seasonality, and served in an informal and relaxed setting.

Hearty Cumbrian Food

Not everything that is great about Cumbrian food is measured in Michelin stars or Rosettes and there are plenty of pubs in the local area with hearty Cumbrian food and drink menus that won’t break the bank.

Chip Shop Heaven

Spare a thought also for award winning Chip shops! Shap Chippy (in Shap!) was runner up in the Fish & Chip Awards 2020. Closed on Mondays you can do normal takeaway or book a table in their restaurant and choose from a wide-ranging menu. Equally good is another award-winning chip shop, Angel Lane Chippy in Penrith

Westmorland Tebay at your Service

Finally, as you head north or south along the M6 between Tebay and Penrith then make time to visit Tebay Services. No ordinary service station Tebay has evolved into an amazing showcase for Cumbrian produce with a fantastic farm shop, deli, and gift shop. The café also delivers the most flavoursome motorway food you will ever taste (sister services to the M5 in Gloucester)!

Romantic breaks for couples in Cumbria

Valentine’s Day comes once a year, but at Dufton Barn Holidays you can enjoy a couples break for any special occasion at any time of the year.

Romantic Retreat

We have everything you need for a perfect romantic retreat whenever you choose to celebrate your special anniversary, birthday, or kids free break! We cater for flexible self-catering holidays to suit your free time from 2 or more nights, and we’re located in the beautiful Eden Valley close to the Lake District and Ullswater. Once you’ve parked the car you don’t need to move it again until you leave – unless of course you want to – and you don’t have to worry about the weather spoiling your stay as here staying in is just as enjoyable as going out.

Step inside the threshold and you will be transported to a peaceful and luxurious haven where time really can stop still.

Special Features

Downstairs you will find a fully fitted kitchen with every modern convenience you might need and a wonderful view of open fields & woodland, and in the spring the sheep and lambs often come nosing up to the window.

Upstairs you will find a perfect space to be together. Lounge in comfort on the super king-size bed with hypnos mattress for perfect bedtime relaxation – we don’t supply an alarm clock! Feel the pleasure of warm tiles on your bare feet from the underfloor heating; Snuggle up in front of the log-burner as you binge watch the latest TV hit; Set your mood with the mood lighting controls; Relax in the Jacuzzi bath and allow your stresses to bubble away; Or simply sit and drink espressos in the swivel chair and marvel at the stunning view from the feature window that changes by the hour.

Plenty to Do

If all that isn’t enough, you can stroll up to the village pub or teashop for a refreshing drink or a tasty bite to eat. Or take a romantic walk through the wooded ghyll to hopefully see red squirrels, deer or bluebells in the Spring. There are plenty of manageable walks from the doorstep, but if you are looking for a little more adventure then walk up Dufton Pike or even High Cup Nick for spectacular Eden views, or bring your bikes to cycle the quiet lanes between the attractive fellside villages.

Whatever you want from a romantic staycation – you’ll find it here at Dufton Barn Holidays.

Get in touch for your perfect break – https://duftonbarnholidays.co.uk/availability/

National (Trust) Treasures

On 12 January 2020 The National Trust celebrates 125 years of protecting and caring for special places across the UK. Beatrix Potter was a great supporter and needless to say Cumbria has its share of beautiful places to visit with whole areas of the landscape in the ownership of the Trust. Here is a selection of some of those that are close by to Shepherds View.

Acorn Bank, Temple Sowerby – CA10 1SP – 7.5 miles – 15 mins
Only a short drive from Shepherds View along quiet country roads to avoid the A66. Best known for its comprehensive herb collection and traditional fruit orchards, Acorn Bank is a tranquil haven with a fascinating industrial past. You can discover more about the history of gypsum mining on the estate or wander along the Crowdundle Beck. In the house you can book on to a free daily guided tour. Open through the year but check specific times.

Aira Force, Watermillock – CA11 0JS – 22 miles – 35 mins
Ullswater and Pooley Bridge are great places to visit in themselves and Aira Force is one of many jewels in the crown of this beautiful lake. There is more here than just an impressive waterfall, as there are a network of trails from the lakeshore to the top of Gowbarrow summit, and fabulous views across Ullswater. You don’t even have to arrive by car as Ullswater steamers has a pier here. It’s also a great rainy day visit as the site is beneath the woodland canopy and the falls become even more impressive with more water! Open Dawn to Dusk for the countryside – check times for the tea-room.

Sizergh, Kendal – LA8 8DZ – 36 miles – 50 mins
Taking a trip to Kendal will take you a lovely scenic route over Orton Fell and past the towering Howgills. Sizergh is an imposing medieval house at the gateway to the Lake District with rich gardens and estate. The House closes for the winter, but the park and gardens including the café remain open, so do check on opening times before setting out. There are also a series of events on through the year.

Allan Bank and Grasmere – LA22 9QB – 38 miles – 1 hour
Head toward Keswick and then on to Grasmere is an inspiring drive as you start to see the full majesty of the Lake District. Allan Bank house is set on a hill with views over Grasmere lake and fells where Wordsworth once found inspiration. There are plenty of walks around the area, and red squirrels in the grounds. The welcoming village of Grasmere is a short 10 minute walk away. Check opening times as the house operates winter and summer opening times.

Townend, Troutbeck – LA23 1LB – 41 miles – 1 hour 5 mins
Either on from Grasmere or up and over the Kirkstone pass from Ullswater. This is a traditional Lake District stone and slate farmhouse but full of quirky objects and fascinating stories of more than 400 years of history. Beatrix Potter described the Troutbeck Valley as her favourite. Open Wed to Sun (March to October) from 1-4pm with guided tours at 11am and 12 noon on FCFS basis. Garden open every day from 10am

Allen Banks and Staward Gorge, Hexham – NE47 7BP – 38 miles – 1 hour 15 mins (via A686)
The A686 to Alston up Hartside Pass is a fabulous route to take to Allen Banks, with magnificent views across the Solway Firth at the peak of the climb. At Allen Banks itself you will find beautiful walking at any time of the year through woodland and following the course of the River Allen. The area is particularly well known for its carpet of bluebells in spring, and home to over 70 species of bird and the occasional red squirrel. Well worth the trip out as the area is within the North Pennine AONB. Open dawn to dusk with pay and display parking.

Hadrian’s Wall and Housesteads Fort, Hexham – NE47 6NN – 57miles – 1 hour 12 (via A69)
Only a short distance further on than Allen Banks is this renowned UNESCO World Heritage site. The quickest route is via the M6 and A69 but do take the A686 one of the ways. With breathtaking landscapes choose from invigorating walks along the wall or discover the archaeological past amongst the remain of the Fort. Hadrian’s wall is open all day, but check times daily for the fort.

Eden Valley breaks by Train

No car, no problem!  If you want to leave the car at home and are looking for a perfect place for your holiday or short break then you need look no further than Shepherds View in the Eden.

With our location close to Appleby-in-Westmorland (3 miles away) access couldn’t be easier.  Appleby is on the famous Settle-Carlisle line, which gives connections to both East and West Coast Mainline rail networks, and regular trains from both Leeds and Carlisle.  As an alternate route you also have the option of Penrith (14 miles away) which is also on the West Coast mainline – if you prefer the next stop after Penrith is Carlisle where you can connect to Appleby!

The beauty of our location is that once you are in the cottage you can be self-sufficient for as long as your stay!   Order your grocery shop on-line with most major supermarkets delivering to the area.  We have a fantastic pub, The Stag, a 2 minute walk from the cottage serving hearty Cumbrian dishes and in this years Good Beer guide.  For those that want to be active there are plenty of great walks for all abilities right from the doorstep.  This includes High Cup Nick, nicknamed ‘Grand Canyon of the North’, and featured by Julia Bradbury as one of her best walks with a view https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PBz0UMJoLI .  In addition, this is a fantastic location for cycling with quiet country roads or for the really serious the murderous Great Dun Fell climb.  The Eden Valley is less well known than the neighbouring Lake District but just as charming and far less crowded!

Finally, with enough notice, we would be happy to pick you up and drop you off at Appleby at the start and end of your holiday.  Please contact us for further information.

Cafes with Attitude!

Who doesn’t like a coffee or tea break during the day? Even in the quiet Eden coffee shops abound, including some of the well-known high street brands. However, what can be better than finding little gems with a difference that can provide additional interest or entertainment on a wet (or dry day) as well as a tasty coffee bean treat. Here are some of our favourites that are off the beaten track and not on the high street. As always check them out on line to check their opening hours!

Llama Karma Kafe – www.llamakarmakafe.co.uk
On the A66 heading towards Penrith who doesn’t want to look at the Llamas whilst enjoying a cuppa and browsing the unusual gift shop. Open 9am to 5pm.

Rheged – www.rheged.com
Part of the famous Dunning family (Gloucester/Tebay services) enjoy the café and shop for gifts and local produce or enjoy the Arts or cinema facilities. On the A66 just over the M6 on the way to Keswick. Open from 8.30am

Café 4 Eden – www.broughamhall.co.uk
Located just one mile south of Penrith Brougham hall is one of the largest country house restoration projects in England.  Home to an array of arts and craft workshops you will find the hall an interesting place to browse through.  In the centre of the fortified house you will find a wonderful coffee shop with some wonderful cakes to enjoy with your coffee!  Open 9 to 4.30pm daily.

Larch Cottage Gardens – www.larchcottage.co.uk
Hidden away in the tiny hamlet of Melkinthorpe this is a thriving nursery in a landscaped garden setting, so you get interesting plants and statues and ornaments for sale, and a great café. Open 10 to 5pm.

Old Village Bakery – www.therowleyestates.com/services/visit-old-village-bakery
Located in Melmerby on the A486 to Alston. Open daily and also has a boutique called Hollberrie upstairs selling ladies fashion, gifts and interior. Once you have finished head on up the hill for spectactular views back over the Eden!

The Yard at Brunswick Yard – www.brunswickyard.com
On Brunswick Road in Penrith just next to Morrisons. Open from 10am but not Sun/Mon. Browse the reclamation yard and then have a brew in the upstairs cafe to ponder your purchases.

Dalemain House and Gardens – www.dalemain.com
World renowned home of the annual Marmalade competition – Paddington eat your heart out. Lovely gardens and interesting house to visit followed by a coffee in the atmospheric café. Sun to Thu from 10 to 4pm

Millyard Cafe – www.millyardcafe.co.uk
Find this café in the lovely Eden village of Morland. Take a stroll around the picturesque village then indulge yourself in the café. Open 9 to 4pm but closed on Mon/Tue.

Cranstons – www.cranstons.net/stores/cafe-oswalds
Cumbrian foodhall showcasing fabulous local Cumbrian produce. The perfect place to eat, drink and relax after you have shopped in the foodhall. Open 8 to 5 daily and 10 to 4 on Sundays.

Church Gallery – www.church-gallery.co.uk
Explore the Cumbrian market town of Kirkby Stephen and then visit the 3 storey gift shop on the edge of the high street. Open 9 to 5 and Sundays 11 to 5.

Great local pubs and eateries!

Cumbria and the Eden has a magnificent array of locally grown produce available (great local ales, dairy and meat products) and the quality of the chefs in the area is excellent. Consequently, there are some superb local eateries within a short distance of Shepherds View to suit a variety of tastes and requirements. Carole is a pescatarian so is always on the look-out for a good vegetarian or fish dish, and these days there are some great options available, but those looking for gluten free meals are also well catered for. The recommendations below are some of our personal favourites, and we hope you like them, but we would always suggest that you book before you visit as they are often busy at peak times.

The Stag, Dufton – www.thestagdufton.co.uk
For those wanting to keep their carbon foot-print really low then you can’t find better than the Stag, which is only a 2 minute walk away. Good Cumbrian fayre is on offer, with always a number of ales available, and a range of GF/Veg dishes.

The Butchers Arms, Crosby Ravensworth – www.thebutcherscrosby.co.uk
This award winning pub is about 20 minutes drive away but is well worth the visit. Not only is it in a beautiful valley setting, it is also a ‘community pub’ so owned by the village, and currently the No.1 pub in Cumbria on Tripadvisor. Again some delicious dishes, real ales, half portion options, and a good range of vegetarian and GF including Fish & Chips!

The Bridge, Kirkby Thore – www.thebridgebistro.co.uk
10 minutes drive away on the A66 this stylish bistro is in the Michelin guide 2018 and the perfect place for a special celebration. Recently visited by Hugh Jackman no less – you never know who you might meet! A good range of vegetarian and GF dishes are available also.

Shepherds Inn, Langwathby – www.shepherds-inn.co.uk
Another one of our favourites, the Shepherds Inn, is 25 minutes drive away, on the backroads to Penrith. This in itself makes it interesting as it is a lovely drive, but another typical Cumbrian hostelry awaits, with good ale and food, and if you like fish and chips then the Langwathby Whale will be right up your street! GF and vegetarian options.