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Magnificent Stately Homes & Gardens of the Eden Valley

Venturing out west of Dufton to Penrith and the surrounding area there are a remarkable number of visitor attractions well worth the trip.  The Eden Valley has some lovely stately homes and gardens and many of these can be found in this area, and are also host to some popular annual events.

Brougham

English Heritage operate Brougham Castle, which is just off the A66 prior to reaching the Kemplay Island at Penrith. The castle was founded in the early 13th century and enjoys a picturesque setting beside the River Eamont.  A short drive from here is the small village of Brougham and at its centre is Brougham Hall, which is a large complex of fortified buildings that now houses a number of craft workshops, and an interesting place to visit.  It is free to enter and wander around and boasts an excellent coffee shop, Café 4 Eden.

Lowther Castle

In its pomp Lowther Castle originally boasted a room for every day of the year and its gardens were the envy of the north.  However, after the 60 year tenure of the Yellow Earl, who squandered a vast family fortune, the castle was abandoned in 1936, and then part demolished in 1957 and left to ruin.  Since 2008 the 20 year landscape masterplan of restoring the gardens has begun and there are now plenty of reasons to visit across the gardens’ 130 acres.  Not only can you enjoy exploring the gardens along formal and informal walks, but you can also hire bicycles (including electric) to enjoy a number of Estate cycle trails.  When you have finished there is also a café to visit, either at the main building or alternatively the intimate Walled Garden Coffee Shop at the bird of prey centre.

 

Dalemain House

Probably one of the most beautiful and impressive stately homes in the North West with a superb Georgian facade, and also home to the world famous Marmalade awards.  The house is well worth exploring, as are the gardens which are home to the famous Himalyan Blue Poppy, which is particular to Dalemain.  You can also take tea in the Mediaeval Hall Tearoom, and enjoy scones made to a secret recipe.

Not to be missed – May to July for the Blue Poppies, Cumbria Classic Car show in August, and not forgetting the Marmalade awards during National Marmalade Week in March.

 

Hutton in the Forest

Dating back to 1350 Hutton-in-the-Forest boasts a house, gardens and woodland that can be explored.  It is one of many such defensive structures built in Cumberland by wealthy families aware of the threat from the North.  The original Pele Tower was added onto by successive generations and today the house boasts six distinct architectural periods spanning 600 years.  It is a superb illustration of how country houses developed in the North of England.  The house and tearooms are open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, with the gardens every day except Saturday.  Hutton hosts many events during the year including a Plant & Food fair and a Classic Car show (check the web-site for details) but the most established is Potfest in the Park, which is a 3 day festival of all things ceramic.

Not to be missed – end of July for Postfest, May to July for the gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring Ullswater and the Surrounding Area

It may not have the size of Windermere but Ullswater, as the second largest lake in the Lake District, could be said to have much more to recommend it.  Surrounded by stunning mountain scenery it’s 7.5 mile length makes it much more compact, meaning that with a little footwork it isn’t difficult to get magnificent views through gaining some height.  Not that walking is the only way of getting great pictures.  There are several key stopping off points including the villages of Glenridding in the South, Aira Force, and Pooley Bridge in the North, and there is no better way to see the lake than by being on it with the various options on offer.

Pooley Bridge

At the northern tip of the Lake, Pooley Bridge is only 25 minutes drive time from Shepherds View, making it a great day out without having to venture too far into the busy Lakes.  For many this is the starting point of any Ullswater adventure and there are good options for food and drink dining out in the village.  Highly recommended is a visit to Chestnut House, oUllswater Steamerspen 7 days a week, which is an eclectic food and drink emporium, specialising in all things Cumbrian, but also carrying over 400 gins, whiskies, rums etc. – in fact something for every taste.

Pooley Bridge is also the main starting point for Ullswater Steamers, which is an award winning Lake District attraction with over 160 years of operating cruises across the Lake.  Here you can choose to connect to some of the most iconic walking routes in the Lake District or simply enjoy the view across the Lake as you sail to Glenridding and back.

If you are looking for a more personal lake experience then by heading down to the shore-line you will find Lakeland Boat Hire, who rent out a range of motor boats, rowing boats and Canadian canoes – no experience necessary.  Similarly, based at Another Place Hotel, Ullswater Paddleboarding offer lessons, adventure tours and board hire for those looking to get really close to the water!

Aira Force

The main road from Pooley Bridge to Glenridding skirts around the western shore of the lake.  No visit to Ullswater would be complete without a visit to the most famous of Lake District waterfalls at Aira Force.  Owned by the National Trust the site offers a glimpse of a landscaped Victorian park and arboretum, which was begun in 1846.  There is a lovely circular walk through this woodland, but the beauty of this place is that it is especially great to visit when it is raining as you will see the waterfall at its best!  William Wordsworth is also supposed to have written his most famous poem ‘Daffodils’ after a walk along this part of Ullswater.

 

Walks

There are many lovely walks across the Ullswater area, but 2 of our favourites are at Hallin Fell and along the Ullswater Way.

Hallin Fell lies just above Howtown on the eastern edges of Ullswater.  Parking is limited, but getting there early enough allows you to park at St.Peter’s Church, although you could come by steamer.  The walk then takes you down to the shore in an anti-clockwise direction, before ascending back around to the top of the fell for glorious views across the lake and to the surrounding fells.

The Ullswater Way is a 20 mile route around the lake and has various stopping off points for bus and boat so that you don’t have to do it all in one go if you don’t have the appetite.  Our recommendation would be to walk along the Howtown to Glenridding section, which is roughly 7 miles, with stunning views of the lake and fells along the way.  Depending on where you park you will need to use the steamer for one half of your trip – our recommendation would be to use the steamer first so that you are walking back to your car without any timetable deadlines!

Glenridding

At the southern end of Ullswater the village of Glenridding is a popular starting off point for walkers going up England’s third highest mountain Helvellyn.  However, if you are looking for a more sedate experience then you can browse the shops and even visit the 2 rosette Inn on the Lake Hotel for afternoon tea or drinks in its grounds.  Similar to Pooley Bridge this is a stopping off point for the Steamer and you can also hire boats from St.Patrick’s Boat Landing.

The historic market town of Appleby In Westmorland

Appleby Town Centre

The name of Appleby comes from the Norse for ‘place with apple trees’ which when you consider the town lies at a strategic crossing of the River Eden makes sense, at least biblically!  The town boasts plenty of history both old and new, from the well-preserved Norman Keep at the top of Boroughgate to being the honorary quidditch town of the Appleby Arrows.  Apart from the famous horse fair on the first weekend of June the town is rarely busy, and it is a lovely place to stroll either along the river bank or through the town.  The town is literally a snapshot of a typical English town centre with everything you could possibly need, but without the big brands, and is still thriving.  There is plenty of free parking available, but don’t forget your parking disc (supplied in the cottage).

Heritage

Norman Keep at Appleby CastleAppleby is steeped in history from across the ages, predominantly with the castle that overlooks the town from the top of the main thoroughfare of Boroughgate.  The mansion house was the preferred residence of Lady Anne Clifford in the 17th Century and her legacy is stamped across the Eden.  There are daily tours available in the summer months, and for the first time in 20 years the Norman Keep will be open to visitors from summer 2021.  Halfway down the street, past High Cross are Lady Anne’s alms houses, before you reach the Moot Hall and the tourist information centre.  Finally, as you pass Low Cross you reach St Lawrence’s Church which originates form the 12thCentury, and houses the tomb of Lady Anne.  Appleby is also a stopping point on the famous Settle-Carlisle railway line, considered one of England’s most scenic railway journeys.

You can download an Appleby Heritage Trail to ensure you don’t miss any of the history.

Shopping

The town is still fortunate for having local shops selling genuine local produce which are well supported by the town residents, including 2 butchers, a bakery and a green grocer.   For more general shopping top ups there is a good-sized Co-op and a Spar.  Every town needs its selection of gift shops and Appleby has its share including Blue Poppy (see photo), Jak & Co and the Courtyard Gallery.  Coupled with a small chemist, a post office and even a traditional sweet shop there should be something for everyone.  Finally no visit is complete without a visit to the wonderful Pigney’s, which literally sells everything you could possibly need from a traditional hardware store!

Anyone for Coffee?

There are many great places for food and drink in Appleby.  A personal favourite is the Appleby Hub Café which is an artisan-style café with good vegetarian and vegan options, situated next to the town car park.  However, there are several others on the high street including Bojangles, Couryard Gallery, the Eden River Café, and the Appleby Tea Room.  For a more substantial meal then the Crown and Cushion or the Tufton Arms Hotel are good options, and Ashiana serves good quality Asian cuisine.  If takeaway is your thing then you literally have everything available within a short distance of the town centre including fish and chips, pizza, Chinese and Asian options.

And finally

The town has all of those other essentials that can crop up whilst you are away but hopefully don’t.  There is a an excellent doctors surgery, 2 dentists, and Boots the chemist as mentioned earlier.

If you even fancy a swim then there is also a public leisure centre, which occupies the site of the old town gas works.

The beautiful village of Dufton in the Eden Valley

Driving into Dufton you immediately feel the appeal of this sleepy fellside village. The village is dominated by views of the impressive Pennine range including Cross Fell, Great Dun Fell with the radar station, and Dufton Pike. Whilst in the village itself the distinctive sandstone buildings flank the village green with the iconic fountain and the pub in the centre of the village. Dufton is on the Pennine Way and is the key staging post between Alston and Middleton in Teesdale, so if you like walking or just looking at beautiful scenery then you will be perfectly at home here. However, there are several other features of the area that make this such a unique place to visit.

Food & Drink and Events
The Stag InnAt one time there were several pubs in the village to support the many miners working in the area. Now there is only one, the Stag Inn, but with an excellent range of food and drink available Dufton is none the worse for this reduction in choice. For alternative refreshment the Post Box Pantry café offers a variety of food and drink choices from 10am to 4.30pm from Easter through to October. Additionally, the village hall also puts on occasional events for the benefit of locals and visitors alike, including Art in the Hills in July and the High Cup Nick fell race in late February. Visiting the village on the last Saturday in August gives the treat of the Fellside Royal Show which showcases all that is great about this beautiful rural area.

Industrial Heritage
Much of the recent history of the village centres around lead mining and the London Lead Company, the Quaker run philanthropic mining company, controlled the mines in this area. They were responsible in developing the cottages and layout of the village and also introduced a water supply system with supply points including the central fountain/trough at the heart of the village, which was built c.1858.

Dufton fountain

Geology & Walks

Resting on High Cup Within a short distance of the village green it is possible to see the impact of many of the geological events that have created the scenery of the British Isles. Dufton Pike, Knock Pike and Murton Pike are the result of volcanic activity, with the valley of High Cup a magnificent example of glacial and river erosion. More information of what can be seen can be found here, and what better way to enjoy them than to take one of the many local footpaths up or around these features. Running behind the village is the serene Dufton Ghyll, a stream that flows through a river cut sandstone valley, the perfect place to see red squirrels playing at any time, and bluebells in May.


Helm Wind

Dufton is famous for it’s Helm Wind, which is the only named wind in the British Isles. It blows down from the Cross Fell escarpment and is a fierce easterly wind, sometimes lasting for days, and strong enough to blow sheep off their feet. It is caused due to the particular combination of circumstances in the area and can appear all of sudden at any of time of the year, with a cap of cloud called the Helm Bar forming across the fells above the village and often accompanied with the sound as if of a jet engine. Bizarrely you can drive 5 or 6 miles either side of the village or downinto Appleby and not even feel the effects of the wind!Helm Bar

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!

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