Appleby is probably better known than Kirkby Stephen, it holds the annual horse fair in June (and has done since 18th century) when gypsies from all over the country head to Appleby to "mess about with horses."It brings much needed money and tourists to the town.
Apleby in Westmorland lies in the heart of the Eden Valley with the river Eden running attractively through the town. There is a pleasant river-side walk, along the "loop" in the river.
The town actually belonged to Scotland until 1092 when it "moved" to England and later became the county town of Westmorland. Sadly, this county no longer exists and Appleby has been swallowed up by the "new"county of Cumbria.
Boroughgate is the wide street that runs through the town, linking the norman castle (once home to Lady Anne Clifford in the 17thc. and no longer open to the public,)at the top of town with the cloisters and medieval church of St. Lawrence, at the bottom end of town.Markets are held here, weekly as well as there being a variety of shops. We noticed the very old Boots the chemist along with other architecturally interesting buildings.
The Settle to Carlisle railway runs through here, a very scenic line.
Parking appears to be on the street, with designated parking bays and on a Saturday in early summer, the place was buzzing.
A nice place to have a wander round, maybe a pub lunch followed by a wander along the river.
Unusually for such a small place, St. Stephen's parish church is on a grand scale. Built from red sandstone, it is known as the Cathedral of the Dales and is a rather magnificent building.
It was built on the site of an old Saxon church around 1175 and is second only in size in "old Westmorland" to the Holy Trinity church in Kendal.
The church is set in pleasant grounds, surrounded by old mill buildings, now houses. Our first view of the church was from through the cloisters and we were quite amazed at it's size and splendour. Inside are some nice stained glass windows and some tomb effergies but the most important relic here is the 8th c. Loki stone. It dates back to the Vikings and is a block of stone with a bearded, horned figure carved into it. It is said to be the Norse god, Loki and is rare, being one of only two in the whole of Europe.
I am led to believe that the church is shared by all denominations.
Kirkby Stephen lies at the head of the Eden Valley (which used to be in the old county of Westmorland but is now part of Cumbria)on the A685 and is on the edge of the Lake District.The Pennines, Swaledale in Yorkshire and the Howgill fells are all close. It is a market town, it's charter granted in 1361 and market days are held on Mondays. Much of it's main road offers parking in cobbled bays.Today's industry is mainly from farming and tourism. The closest large towns are Penrith and Kendal.
Kirkby Stephen has an unusually large parish church, known as the cathedral of the Dales. We were amazed at it's size and had no idea of it's existence. Entrance is via the cloisters, built in 1810 to provide shelter for church goers and market people.
Kirkby Stephen's station is half a mile out of town where the re-opened Settle to Carlisle railway line runs.
We noticed plenty of fish and chip shops, cafes and pubs but were warned that all the "chippies" close by 7.30pm.
Along with B&B's and hotels, there is a youth hostel and a caravan site.
The area surrounding Kirkby Stephen offers ideal walking opportunities, both for the fit and not so fit. The famous Coast to Coast walk passes through here.
From our camp site we spent the entire Saturday travelling very minor roads on our motorbike. These roads are terrific, ranging from the very straight, Roman roads to grass down the middle tracks and even crossing of fords was encountered!
We headed to Appleby by crossing over the A66 and taking a narrow road just beyond Warcop that took us through a military training area, tanks and guns were positioned everywhere. Quite interesting but why do they always claim some of the nicest scenery for their bases and exercises?? I didn't dare take any photos in case the camera was confiscated!
After Appleby we took in lots of the tiny hamlets in this area, all very pretty and neat,crossed two fords and came into Kirkby Stephen from the north west. All these roads were new pastures for us and travelling them on the motorbike was superb and enabled us to see these places as we would not have ventured down most of these roads in our 23 feet long motorhome!!
To the east of Kirkby Stephen, high above the village of Hartley is Hartley Fell. Up here can be found panoramic views of the Eden Valley and distant fells.
The narrow, single track road winds it's way very steeply out of Hartley, passing the large quarry and onto the fell. There are few passing places but don't let that put you off. At the end of the road, footpaths head off over Hartley Fell and Greenfell Crag. This is part of the Coast to Coast walk and takes in the Nine Standards, cairns built to look like roman soldiers.We did not have time to wander far as we were visiting friends who live up here but the views were stunning.
The folks who live here train mountain rescue dogs and there is some information about the organisation and how to give a donation.
The bright yellow gorse was prolific here and made a spectacular display.
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