Appleby-in-Westmorland is a picturesque market town in an enviable position, nestled as it is between two national parks and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Its location just off the A66 and a short drive from the M6 also makes it easy to get to and an ideal base for exploring all that’s on offer in the region.
Read on for our guide on what’s what in Appleby!
You could hardly be better placed for seeing the best of the English countryside than in Appleby. With the Lake District to the west, the North Pennines to the east, and the Yorkshire Dales to the south, you’re absolutely spoiled for choice! Not only that, but Appleby is in the beautiful Eden Valley, a spectacular yet mostly undiscovered region that holds a wealth of walks and bike rides to explore.
Overlooking the town is the privately owned Appleby Castle, a Grade 1 listed building that mostly dates back to the Normans. It was once owned by Lady Anne Clifford, a wealthy property owner and patron of the Arts who spent much time restoring many historical buildings across Northern England. Nowadays, Appleby Castle hosts regular events throughout the year.
Continue winding your way through the large cobbled streets of Appleby and you will find even more historic delights: the Hospital of St Anne was originally built by Clifford as almshouses, the wide main street is described as one of the finest in England, St Lawrence’s Church dates back to the 12th century, and George Washington’s father attended the grammar school!
Heritage Train Lines
The Settle to Carlisle railway line, known as one of the most scenic routes in England, has a stop in Appleby. Originally built starting in 1869 in order for Midland Railway to expand its network, it now runs a regular passenger service with the occasional steam train passing through. The route opens up a great many options for day trips including the border city of Carlisle in the north, England’s highest station, Dent, and even Leeds! Alternatively, you can just enjoy the sites on the railway itself including the impressive Ribblehead viaduct.
The Pennine Way
The first ever national trail to be created in the UK, the 268-mile-long Pennine Way follows the mountains along the ‘backbone of England’ between Edale in the Peak District and Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. One of the major stops on the route, Dufton, is just 5 miles from the centre of Appleby and is a great point for taking on part of this long-distance footpath. Several circular walks can be undertaken from the village so that you can get a taste of the Pennine Way without having to do the whole thing!
If you’re seeking some adventure during your visit, then there’s plenty on offer around Appleby. Eden Outdoor Adventures is a family run company offering a huge range of outdoor activities led by experienced instructors. Whether you want to have a go at ghyll scrambling, rock climbing, snow shoeing, kayaking, or navigation training, they can help!
Appleby Horse Fair
The famous Appleby Horse Fair is an annual summer gathering of Gypsies and Travellers in the town. Attracting around 1,000 caravans, several hundred horse-drawn vehicles, and approximately 30,000 visitors each year, it is the biggest traditional Gypsy fair in Europe, and one of the most colourful in the region! A more casual event than many fairs, there is no official schedule of events, but you will be sure to see horses being washed in the river, horses pulling sulkies, and women dressed in traditional colourful dresses! There is also a market selling a range of goods.
Take a day trip
Appleby is well situated for day trips across all parts of the region. You can be in the border city of Carlisle within less than an hour where you can explore Roman history, browse the shops, or discover Carlisle Castle. Closer to home, Ullswater, widely considered the Lake District’s most beautiful lake, is a short drive away. There are also many stately homes, interesting ruins, stone circles, and picturesque towns and villages – including Penrith - to explore.