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Holidays in Kirkby Stephen

Cumbria market town with curious historical links to a famous assassination

UK | North of England | Cumbria | Kirkby Stephen
Carlisle - Settle viaduct

Kirkby Stephen is a small market town in Cumbria located between the Lake District, the North Pennines, and the Yorkshire Dales National Parks. With its riverside walks, historic buildings, cobbled streets and courtyards full with interesting independent shops, there’s plenty to explore. Even though it’s a lesser known part of Cumbria, it’s no less eye-catching with its rolling hills and wild uplands.

Most of the town predominantly consists of 18th and 19th century buildings that were built on same layout as the thatched wattle and daub houses that stood there before. The building material is Brockram stone, a hard mixture between limestone and sandstone. Another local historical building is the ruin of Pendragon Castle, once home of the infamous Hugh de Morville, one of Sir Thomas Beckett’s assassins, who lived in exile after his deed. The ruin is on private land but is still accessible to the public. One of the most bizarre aspects to the town are the macaws that fly about freely in the town. Read the story behind their unusual presence here.

Surrounding Cumbria countryside

Kirkby Stephen is in a great position to take advantage of three great national parks, all within driving distance. The town even has a rail connection – the Carlisle-Settle line with links to other main hubs in the north-west. In town there are some great places to dine out; why not visit The Kings Arms next door to the Visitor Centre? This is a 17th Century coaching inn that sells real ale in a relaxed atmosphere. Good home cooking is available, try their massive mixed grill. A thing of beauty. Also look into eating at The Black Bull Hotel in the town centre. They serve anything from a simple snack to a three course meal in style.

Kirkby Stephen has a number of lovely walks, including miles of footpaths, bridleways and thousands of acres of open access land. Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast route passes through town before winding back into the surrounding passes and fells. Other known walking challenges in the neighbourhood include Nine Standards Rigg, Wild Boar Fell, High Cup Nick and routes in the Howgills. A popular walk with visitors is the Northern Viaduct Rounds that follow the former path of the Stainmore Railway.

There is access for prams and wheelchairs too. The River Eden originates at a high elevation on Black Fell, overlooking Hell Gill Force. Other riverside points of interest include the highpoint shared by the Lady Anne Clifford Highway and the Ais Gill summit. The amazing gorge falls near Kirkby Stephen are worth a visit; also find the Millennium Bridge at the southern end of the town for great views of the river.

"There is a high number of lovely walks around Kirkby Stephen…"

Kirkby Stephen has a tourist information centre, so pay it a visit to get local tips and up-to-date information about the area. We have some great cottages in and around Kirkby Stephen and Upper Eden. Why not have a browse of our collection of Kirkby Stephen cottages?

While you’re there

Northern Viaduct Rounds

Great countryside walk that follows the former path of the Stainmore railway. It’s got good access for everybody from children to those who need wheelchair assistance.

Pendragon Castle ruins

Take a walk out to Pendragon Castle to see some fantastic ruins that are subject to amazing countryside views. Take a picnic!

Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Path

The Coast to Coast path runs through Kirkby Stephen and takes in some beautiful vistas as it winds its way through fells and passes.

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