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While it is common knowledge that Cumbria is home to the highest mountain in England, the county is also home to England’s highest market town of Alston, under the shadow of the highest point on The Pennine Way, Cross Fell.


At more than 1,000 feet above sea-level, Alston gives visitors to Cumbria a literal chance to be on top of the world (or the county, at least), thanks to its position in the top right-hand corner of the county.

Situated in the civil parish of Alston Moor, the town’s modest population of just over 2,000 people is a welcoming community, nestled snugly in the centre of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which, incidentally, is the second biggest of the 40 AONBs across both England and Wales.

Even the drive to Alston is part of the overall experience, with visitors treated to magnificent views of the surrounding countryside, no matter which route is taken.

While Cumbria’s best-known poet is of course William Wordsworth, Alston is part of the area which inspired many of the works by W. H. Auden, who according to his brother John, came to love Alston Moor more than any other place he had experienced.

St. Augustine's Church, Alston

North Cumbria is the home to many ancient churches, and Alston is no exception to this, with St Augustine's church located on a site whose Christian connections stretch back to the 12th century.

England's highest golf course can also call Alston home, along with no fewer than 88 listed buildings, most of which are houses, shops, pubs, churches and hotels. Highlights include a former brewery, war memorials and Alston’s Market Cross.


There is no need for a satnav either – as the more traditional navigator can find a series of milestones which still stand proudly at the roadside. A good excuse to begin a digital detox, perhaps?

Alston’s neighbouring villages mean there is more to explore beyond the town’s boundaries too, with the pretty villages of Garrigill and Nenthead well-worth a visit – the latter being home to ‘The Hive’ (Formerly Nenthead Arts & Visitor Centre) and Nenthead Mines. Rich in mining history – much of which dates back to Roman times, Alston Moor had some of the largest deposits of lead and zinc ores in Britain and by the mid-19th century, the area became one of the primary producers of lead in England.

Alston Moor

No stranger to significant engineering feats, Alston Moor is also home to the High Mill and the Nent Force Level, both of which were designed and built by John Smeaton – widely regarded as 'The first 'Civil Engineer'. And how can we forget the legacy left here in Cumbria by the Romans? While you are here, be sure to take a look at the Epiacum Roman Fort, which is a mere couple of miles from Alston.

So, while UK landmarks like the UK’s most southerly place, Lizard Point and the most Northerly, John O’Groats may be on the more common list of must-visit destinations for map-lovers, be sure to check out Alston during your next visit to Cumbria, and end (or start) your journey of discovery on a high note – indeed, the highest possible (without the need to don your climbing boots, of course).

We look forward to welcoming you and to help you make the most of your time here in the Lake District, Cumbria, make sure to plan ahead and book your stay prior to visiting.




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