Things to do nearby Old St John's Church
Old St John's Church is located in the pretty farming village of Gamblesby on the edge of the Pennines. This is a peaceful base from which to explore the rest of the region, with country walks from the door and the neighbouring village of Melmerby boasting the popular Old Village Bakery with a shop and café for sweet treats. Melmerby is at the foot of the stunning Hartside Pass, a scenic road route up to the market town of Alston and an irresistible challenge for cyclists to take on! Head the other way and explore the beautiful Eden Valley which is bursting with pretty villages to explore and miles of lovely walking and cycling routes.Langwathby is an attractive sandstone village built around a village green and holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest ‘temporary’ bridge in the country! The Eden Valley is a hidden gem with the Pennines to the east and Lake District Fells to the west. The beautiful rural landscapes around the River Eden are a mix of lush green countryside, traditional towns and attractive sandstone villages. The enigmatic stone circle of Long Meg near Little Salkeld is nearby which is worthy of a visit in its own right; or plan it into a longer walk; you could also take in the mill for some freshly ground flour to take home. For those with a liking for cake visit The Village Bakery in Melmerby.
Walks in the Eden Valley are many and varied, choose from a variety of other routes up onto the Pennines, the stunning and unique High Cup Nick above Dufton is one not to miss, with a bit of a scramble you can walk right up the valley on to the surprisingly flat moorland beyond. Another obvious place to head for is the lovely River Eden, the best riverside walks can be found south of Wetheral and between Lazonby and Salkeld. A bonus is that all these attractive stone villages also have great pubs and cafés to visit.
This is a perfect location for getting away from it all and just relaxing in beautiful surroundings but with easy access to M6, A66 and the rail service, it is also ideal for those wishing to make most of their holiday and explore different parts of the region. One of the best ways to see the Eden Valley is by train setting off from Langwathby and travelling south towards the Yorkshire Dales or north to Carlisle. Running through some of the most attractive scenery in the Yorkshire Dales and Eden Valley, the Settle-Carlisle railway is world famous for its Victorian architecture, huge stone viaducts, tunnels and remote wayside station buildings yet is part of the main UK rail network. The diesel sprinter trains carry well over a million passengers every year and provide a vital link to the remote communities they connect.
Penrith is a bustling market town of sandstone buildings, renowned for its wealth of specialist shops offering an interesting choice of goods but it also has a couple of supermarkets, including Sainsbury's and Booths. Penrith has a floodlit driving range plus a pitch and putt at the Golf Centre, whilst the Penrith Golf Club is a moorland course high above the town enjoying stunning views towards the Lake District. Just a mile from Penrith is Rheged Centre, located in Europe’s largest grass covered building. Rheged is home to nine individual shops and 3 cafés which reflect the best of the region, including taste food hall and mountain life outdoor clothing shops, it also houses an exhibition centre and a large 3D cinema. If you fancy making a unique gift to take home, for yourself or someone else, release your inner artist and have a go at the pottery painting, there are a wide range of items to choose from, from children’s money boxes to plates, cups and jugs, this is definitely not an activity just for children – go on, have a go!
Alston is situated high up in the Pennines, accessed via the scenic drive up Hartside which has wide panoramic views from its summit. Surrounded by a unique landscape of moorland, hills, rivers and waterfalls, Alston is England's highest market town. This intriguing town with cobbled streets and fascinating nooks and crannies was the location for the ITV productions of Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist. Take a ride on one of the lovingly restored steam and diesel engines of the South Tynedale Railway, the round trip from Alston to Kirkhaugh takes about 50 minutes through the beautiful scenery of the South Tyne Valley. You can also visit The Hub Museum with its interesting local history and bygone transport collection and explore Alston’s mining heritage.
Hutton in the Forest, a historic house and garden based on medieval Pele towers with substantial later additions between the 14th and 19th centuries. The house has extensive gardens covering a beautiful topiary terrace and low garden overlooking the lake and cascade. It is worth catching the guided walk with the long serving gamekeeper for a full and interesting tour.
Acorn Bank Garden and Water Mill is well known for its collection of 250 herbs, traditional fruit orchards and sheltered walled garden and is a lovely spot to visit. Some rooms in the house are now also open to view in this National Trust property and the tea room features many of the herbs and fruits grown in the garden in its menu. There is plenty of wildlife to be spotted on the woodland walk and along Crowdundle Beck towards the restored water mill or take the wildlife trail to a disused mine and bird hide overlooking feeders and a pond.
Larch Cottage Nursery has an incredibly comprehensive range of plants with many varieties that are rarely found elsewhere and is described as unique and reputable by Enjoy England. The plants are displayed in an attractive walled garden and when you have finished browsing enjoy their excellent Italian inspired coffee shop overlooking the nursery.
Brougham Castle is in a picturesque location beside the River Eden just south of Penrith, it is worth making time to go and wander around the evocative ruins which have at atmosphere all their own. The Alpaca Centre at nearby Stainton is a working farm breeding, rearing and selling alpacas and there is also a shop, furniture gallery and tearoom on site.
The closest Lake District lake is Ullswater, a majestic ribbon lake with a steamer service from Pooley Bridge, Howtown and Glenridding, take a round the lake cruise or take advantage of the boat to do a linear walk along the shore or even up over the High Street fells. To the west, the lake is surrounded by high fells whilst to the east the land falls gracefully to the lush rolling countryside of the Eden Valley. Popular walks from Ullswater include Helvellyn, St Sunday Crag, High Street and Place Fell.
Appleby-in-Westmorland Is an attractive market town straddling the River Eden. It was the old county town of Westmorland and has good local facilities including shops, pubs and cafés. Appleby Horse Fair is held every June; a traditional gypsy gathering where the horse is still king. The Fair is known locally for its raucous fun and colour. Horses are washed in the river, then bought, sold and raced in the streets.
Appleby Castle can be seen from the iron gates at the top of Boroughgate, the castle is Norman, with a fine 17th century house alongside. Events are held here throughout the summer or you can book onto a tour which are held daily but should be booked in advance. St. Lawrence’s Church has been altered over the years and thus showcases architecture from all eras from the 12th century onwards. It is well-known for the marble bust of Lady Anne Clifford, a benefactress from the 17th century who lived in the castle. The Hospital of St. Anne consists of almshouses founded in 1651 and still performing their original function were built and bequeathed to the town by Lady Anne Clifford.
Aira Force Waterfall at Ullswater, is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Lake District; over 70 feet high with a stunning view from the stone bridge which arches over the top of the falls it is a MUST see especially for photographers and especially good after (or during!) rain when the falls are at their fullest.
For a change from the Eden Valley and Lake District fells head north to Hadrian’s Wall country; a wild and beautiful landscape less visited but offering plenty of attractions, walks for all abilities and some wonderful far reaching views. Hadrian’s Wall itself offers a good guide to start exploring the area; pay to visit one of the museums or just soak up the atmosphere of the wall for free, many sections of the Hadrian’s Wall Path national trail run right alongside the wall, so you are walking in the footsteps of the Roman soldiers.