Things to do nearby The Cottage, North Scout Green
Orton is a traditional village at the foot of Orton Scar in the upper Lune Valley, a little-known but very beautiful part of Cumbria bordering the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Historically it was part of the county of Westmorland but is now in the Eden district of Cumbria. Just 1.5 miles from the M6 motorway, it is well located for access to the Lake District, Eden Valley, Scottish Borders and the Dales. The writer and fell walker Alfred Wainwright considered Orton to be “the loveliest of all Westmorland’s villages”. In fact, it’s a favourite resting point for many people following his Coast to Coast Walk from St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay. There is a pub that serves food, as well as a shop and post office.
The famous Kennedy's Fine Chocolates are made at the factory in Orton and are probably the best that money can buy! The factory even supplies prestigious hotels. Their chocolates are available to buy at the little shop here and there’s also a cafe serving light refreshments – and of course delicious hot chocolate. They also do mail offer, so you can keep up your chocolate habit after you’ve left! All Saints’ Church in the village boasts a limewashed 16th century tower with new windows added in the 19th century, including a beautiful angel window designed by Beatrice Whistler, wife of the painter James McNeill Whistler. On the second Saturday of every month is the popular Orton farmers’ market, renowned as being one of the best in Britain, with live music and a hog roast as standard.
The limestone environment offers good, wild, and surreal walking territory and provides a rare habitat for plants and wildlife, with ferns and wildflowers growing in the cracks of this lunar-like landscape. The surrounding views are striking. The gently rolling Howgills offer more good walking territory, some of which is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park – despite being in Cumbria. The hills are roughly bordered by Sedbergh, Kirkby Stephen and Tebay, and have fine views of both the Lakes and the Dales. Mallerstang Edge is a ridge of land, all of which is above 2,000 feet, described by David Bellamy as “England’s last wilderness”. This bare land has fabulous views and many ancient cairns and burial mounds.
A path from Orton leads to the summit of Orton Scar, or a less energetic climb starts from the nearby quarry. Once you reach the monument at the top, you will be rewarded with tremendous views of the open countryside and the triangulation station at the summit of Asby Scar a mile or so away. A remnant of the Border raids, Castle Folds is the remains of a large cattle enclosure and shelter just outside Orton. Three miles east, Gamelands Stone Circle is one of the largest in Cumbria. It has 35 stones remaining, all but one of which are made from local pink Shap granite. The site is spectacular, on a high limestone plateau under Knott Scar beside the River Lune. Hollin Stump, at Great Asby Scar, is the remains of a large, Bronze Age burial cairn, reaching a height of four metres in places.
Appleby-in-Westmorland is an attractive town about 10 miles from Orton and is famous for its horse fair held each June. It has shops, pubs and cafes, and daily tours are available at the 17th-century motte and bailey castle, which boasts one of the few remaining intact Norman keeps and hosts a calendar of events.
Kirkby Stephen is a large village with good local facilities and traditional character, featuring 18th and 19th century buildings. Lammerside Castle is just to the south of Kirkby Stephen, with ruins – some of up to two storeys – of a 12th century defensive tower. Pendragon Castle, in Mallerstang, consists of 12th century ruins in a circular enclosure and Cumbrians have long claimed it was founded by Uther Pendragon, the father of King Arthur.
Sedbergh is a “book town” with several specialist book traders offering antiquarian, transport, textile, art and craft, and children’s books. Sedbergh is also proud of its strong connections to the wool industry and there are many ways to explore its history, including visiting the Farfield Mill Arts and Heritage Centre a mile outside the town, which houses craftspeople and offers craft sales, exhibitions and workshops. Sedbergh Angling Association has long stretches of nearby river stocked with trout and salmon and day/weekly permits are available.
The impressive ruins of Brough Castle, seen by many travellers from the A66, stand on the site of an old Roman fort and are managed by English Heritage. Entry is free and the attractive riverside site is a great place for a picnic. There is also an ice cream parlour and tearoom next to the ruins, along with a play area.
Askham Hall and Lowther Castle Gardens, near Penrith, are open to visitors and within easy walking distance of each other. The gardens of Askham Hall have views across the open countryside and over the River Lowther, and there is an animal trail and a family-friendly walk. Lowther Castle was once the country seat of the Lowther family and the remains of the elaborate formal gardens are fascinating to explore. There is a huge adventure playground and rope swings plus a birdwatching hide. The ruins of Brougham Castle nearby are run by English Heritage and stand in a beautiful location beside the River Eamont, with a shop and exhibition of Roman tombstones. Brougham Hall is a marvellous 14th century building rescued from dereliction which now houses a cafe and regular craft workshops.
Penrith has a great range of independent shops, cafes and restaurants, as well as supermarkets. The ruined castle in the town is surrounded by a pleasant park and the churchyard of the mainly 18th century St Andrew’s Church contains ancient crosses and hogsback tombs. From Penrith station you can catch the train for a day out in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Carlisle or Lancaster. Just outside Penrith is Rheged, a centre where you can buy local produce, choose from the different eating options available, take part in pottery painting, watch a film in the 3D cinema or treat yourself to a pampering session in the spa.
Heading south of Orton, the historic town of Kendal is less than a half-hour drive away. It has a great selection of independent and national shops and supermarkets, plus an array of specialist retailers. Attractions include Kendal Castle, a 12th century ruin of the ancient home of the Parr family, with superb views across the town. Castle Hill boasts great picnic areas and a marked walk through woodland. Abbot Hall Art Gallery is housed in a Grade I listed Georgian villa on the banks of the River Kent and boasts a collection of British art. The Museum of Lakeland Life can be found in the former stable block for Abbot Hall and includes typical street scenes with old Kendal shop frontages and costumes. The town’s Brewery Arts Centre offers theatre, cinema, music, lectures, exhibitions and workshops. No trip to Kendal would be complete without a visit to Farrer’s Coffee House. Formerly an inn, Farrer’s have been selling tea and coffee in this character building since 1819.