Things to do nearby The Curlew Retreat
The Curlew Retreat is fantastically placed, surrounded as it is by fields and fells, with the Howgill fells enticing you to explore the area further. The little village of Ravenstonedale is just a mile away and has two good pubs. A few miles further on is the vibrant market town of Kirkby Stephen with its independent shops and cafes. You can choose from the Pennines, the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales or the Lake District, just over half an hour away.
Kirkby Stephen is a lovely little town with its friendly, independent shops and cafes – it prides itself on being a ‘walkers are welcome’ town and has an air of vibrancy to it.
Stainmore Railway Company
An excellent museum of Victorian Railway achievements, sited in the old Kirkby Stephen East Station. They have several working steam locomotives and a short length of track to show them off on, plus a fine museum of the days when railways transformed travel. The line from here went over the summit of Stainmore Pass on its way to Durham.
Brough Castle is is the closest of three magnificent old castles easily reached from Kirkby Stephen and is a good introduction to the Lady Anne Clifford. Entry is free and various information boards will introduce you to her ladyship. Briefly, her 17th century tale is one of huge perseverance eventually paying off when she managed to wrest control of all her father’s castles from her uncle – including Brough, Brougham (near Penrith) and Skipton, which is the best preserved
Stone Trail Riding Centre
If you are an experienced rider you will love a ride through the lovely Eden Valley countryside. It’s not for novices, but if you can ride and would like to go onto the website and book a day.
Stenkrith Park and Woodland
This is a walk with a purpose and a difference. Here the River Eden drops into a fabulous gorge known locally as the Devil’s Mustard Mill. You cross it on a new Millennium Bridge to start a three mile walk along the old Stainmore Railway line. On your left is the original Railway viaduct, another feat of Victorian engineering. The walk passes through old woodland and takes in no fewer than three fine viaducts. Building railways here wasn’t easy. At the far end of the park is a great wild swimming spot.
Winton Park Gardens
Winton Park Gardens are a gem, and like all gems not easily accessible! They are only open on certain Sundays (see their website) but if your holiday covers one, do go and admire. It’s hard to believe that only thirty years ago this was farmland – now it’s a lush, beautiful and manicured mature garden. As different from Skenkrith as can be imagined.
Gear up for a long and tremendously satisfying day trip. Drive through Brough ignoring the busy A66 over the fine fell road to Middleton in Teesdale for a morning coffee and to stretch your legs in this lovely Durham Dales town. Then head up the valley a little to the High Force waterfall. You need to get out and walk up to the falls – a great reward for a little effort. Just a mile or so back down the road don’t miss the sign off right to the Wynch Bridge, over the River Tees. This claims to be the oldest suspension bridge in the world and you can only cross one at a time.
Drive down the lovely Tees valley to Barnard Castle for a well-earned lunch. Two major attractions will fill in a lot of your afternoon: The Castle itself was once home to Richard III and carries his Boar emblem and is well worth exploring. Bowes Museum is also in the town – not at nearby Bowes! This splendid French Chateau owes its design to the French wife of John Bowes, and was built specifically as a museum to display their amazing collection of art and memorabilia. Don’t miss the mechanical swan!
It’s a short and easy drive back over Stainmore Pass.
Sedbergh, Hawes and the Dales Countryside Museum
This time head south firstly to Sedbergh, a pretty little Cumbrian town almost entirely given over to its public school and its book shops. Turn Eastwards on the A684 up the Garsdale valley to the high village of Hawes, at the head of the Yorkshire valley Wensleydale. This is the home of Wensleydale Cheese, and the creamery is open to the public and well worth a visit. It’s been here since 1897, when Wensleydale cheese was first invented. Great café, great exhibition. Nearby Hardraw Force is a definite must-see attraction, situated in a quiet area of some enchanting woodland this is the highest single drop waterfall in England at over 100 feet. These famous falls were used as a location in the hit Hollywood blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Hawes is also home to the Dales Countryside Museum, an impressive collection of Yorkshire Dales life through the centuries. This superb collection covers the whole spectrum of Dales life – mining, farming, knitting, school days, home life, leisure time, religion, transport, communication and tourism, farming, local crafts and industries.
Nine Standards Rigg
Strictly speaking this is the summit of Hartley Fell, just a few miles SE of Kirkby Stephen, but the nine stone-built cairns that mark the top are so impressive they have taken over as the favoured name. The walk up from KS follows the famous Coast to Coast walk. It’s a full day’s circular walk from the centre of Kirkby Stephen: great value if this is your sort of thing!
Yep, yet another castle! This part of the world has way more than its fair share. This one’s very special, though, having been built by Uther Pendragon, King Arthur’s father! It’s special in another way too, being peacefully situated by the river Eden. It’s free to enter and just, well, wonderfully peaceful. You’ll have it to yourselves and it won’t take long to see – but could take the whole afternoon if you let it creep into your soul.
Just a 30 minute drive away Haweswater was once a much smaller lake, but the building of a dam in the 1920s flooded two small villages and created the larger reservoir that we see now. During dry spells, you can even spot remnants of the old villages! Though building of the dam was controversial, it was the world's first hollow buttress dam and was considered the forefront of modern engineering at the time. It's surrounded by the Mardale fells and there is some fantastic walking here.