The Eden Valley in the County of Cumbria
Lying with the Pennines to the east and the Lake District Fells to the west, the beautiful Eden Valley around the River Eden is a mix of lush green countryside, traditional towns, and attractive sandstone villages, some dating back to Viking times.
To the south are the peaceful Howgill Fells, a favourite of the walker A. Wainwright.
The River Eden which has its source in the Mallerstang Valley, is one of the finest salmon and trout rivers in the North of England, and you can enjoy some great riverside walks. Look out for the Eden Benchmarks, ten intriguing sculptures in dramatic settings which act as welcome seats.
The River Eden is entirely in Cumbria, and is one of the few large rivers in England that flows northwards. The source of the river is on the high limestone fells above Mallerstang Common, near the North Yorkshire border, and makes its way across eastern Cumbria, with the hills of the North Pennines to the East, and the fells of the Lake District to the west, to Carlisle. Here its merges with other rivers to form the great Solway Firth estuary, before reaching the open sea, 90 miles (145 km) from its source.
For much of its course, the river is accompanied by the famous Settle to Carlisle Railway, a spectacularly scenic route saved from extinction in the 1960s by the efforts of local enthusiasts. The railway is a perfect means for accessing the Eden Valley, with stations at Appleby and Kirkby Stephen.
The Eden Valley is green and fertile but in medieval times the valley was vulnerable to Scottish raids, and the number of pele towers and castles in the area are testament to a turbulent and often violent past.
Penrith, a welcoming market town with good road and rail links, makes an ideal base to explore the area.
Penrith has a rich history. It was in the 9th and 10th centuries that the town became the capital of Cumbria – a semi-dependent state which, until 1070 AD formed part of the Kingdom of Scotland and Strathclyde. The two oldest streets, Burrowgate and Sandgate, date from the 13th Century.
The imposing ruins of Penrith Castle have an intriguing history. It was begun in 1399, when a stone wall was added to an earlier pele tower.
Appleby developed as the market town of Westmorland after the Norman Conquest, having a strategic position in the Eden valley. It is an attractive market town with a great deal of interest and charm.
The market town of Kirkby Stephen lies at the head of the Eden Valley, the source of which is in the Mallerstang Valley, to the south east. Kirkby Stephen was granted a market charter in 1361, and a lively market is still held on mondays.
Culgaith is a small village near Temple Sowerby. Just outside the village is Acorn Bank – a National Trust house, Walled Garden, restored mill, and riverside Walk, and Winderwath gardens.
Milburn is a village three miles north of Temple Sowerby.
It is a classic example of a medieval fortified village, with its sandstone houses arranged around a 4.5 acre rectangular green. The green was only open at its four corners, making it easy for defensive purposes as well as useful for penning in sheep. These corner entrances were walled up each winter. Access to the village was through narrow easily defended gaps between the houses.
Dufton is a very attractive village three miles north of Appleby, in an area designated as of oustanding natural beauty (AONB).
Many old houses, some from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, border the rectangular village green, with its avenue of lime trees marching down the center.
It lies on both the Pennine Way and Cumbria Cycle Way. You can approach Cross Fell (the highest point on the Pennines) or High Cup Nick from here. At the head of this perfectly formed U-shaped Valley is one of the highlights of the Pennine Way, described by Wainwright as an ‘unforgettable sight’, a ‘natural wonder’. It’s perfectly situated for exploring the moorland of the North Pennines, or the green valleys of the River Eden.
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