Mallerstang Valley

Mallerstang Valley

Location : Kirkby Stephen

Mallerstang, together with the other Pennine Dales and the Upper Eden Valley, are among England’s few remaining wild and peaceful places. David Bellamy described this general area as “England’s last Wilderness”.

Beautiful Mallerstang, looking up with Wild Boar Fell on right. Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham

It lies between Mallerstang Edge/High Seat on the Eastern side and Wild Boar Fell on its western side, and roughly covers the area from Kirkby Stephen, south to Garsdale.

The River Eden, which has its source on Black Fell Moss above Hell Gill Beck, flows through the valley and the Carlisle to Settle Railway also follows the valley.

Giants Graves – north end of the Mallerstang Valley. Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham

At the Northern end of Mallerstang, not far from Lammerside Castle, are the Giants Graves, which are probably Bronze Age burial grounds (NY 777044).

Throughout its length, the valley of Mallerstang is buttressed and sheltered on the east by a continuous barrier of high ground, everywhere above the 2000′ contour, and seamed by watercourses and cliffs. This is Mallerstang Edge, forming the Pennine watershed between east and west, and, although little visited, gives an exhilarating high-level walk, unimpeded by walls or fences, for several miles.

Mallerstang Edge. Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham

Read A Virtual Walk through Mallerstang for a description of the features and places of interest of the valley :

  • Starting where the River Eden begins, along Hell Gill Beck, the county boundary between Cumbria and North Yorkshire.
  • Continuing along the original road through Mallerstang before the B6259 was built – the route now known as Lady Anne’s Way.
  • A little detour to Hellgill Force – the largest waterfall on the River Eden.
  • The Watercut – the sculpture nearest the source of the Eden – the first of a series of sculptures, that have been set up at intervals all along the River Eden.
  • The hamlet of Outhgill – with its 12th Century church of St Mary, rebuilt by Lady Anne Clifford in 1663.
  • Some features of the Carlisle Settle Railway.
  • On to Pendragon Castle, reputed to have been founded by Uther Pendragon, the father of King Arthur.

In Smardale attached to the estates of Smardale Hall and Ravenstone Dale Manor are a number of ‘pillow mounds’ (see gallery), sometimes called Giants graves, although they are not. Pillow mounds, probably a late medieval development, are low stone mounds which were once covered with earth and used as artificial rabbit warrens.

In the middle ages rabbits were regarded as valuable animals, to be looked after and cosseted. Rabbits were brought into this country by the Normans. They are originally from southern Europe, and it took them a long time to adjust to our cold, wet climate. But they were such useful animals – their meat was delicate and well-flavoured, the soft fur made fine leather and warm linings for winter clothes, and their stomachs could be used to rennet cheese.

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Grid Ref : NY 782015