In ExploreTravel

If your criteria for the perfect holiday are a relaxing setting away from the crowds in a place surrounded by stunning countryside and fascinating history, we have found just the place: Kirkby Stephen. Arrive by train on one of the world’s most scenic railway lines: The Settle and Carlisle.

This area is perfect for exploring and relaxing away from the crowds, walking over the fells and moorland. The vibrant town will surprise you with its eclectic independent shops and bustling café scene.  If you are lucky you will also experience the colourful free flying macaws that screech from the roof tops; after all, this is the Upper Eden Valley.

When you visit Kirkby Stephen there is plenty to see and do. Here are a few ideas for you:

Kirkby Stephen Parish Church

Kirkby Stephens Parish Church
This historic gem is a must-visit. Inside you will find an impressive display of Saxon artefacts and you can see the famous 10th century Norse Loki Stone, one of only two  in the world.

Pendragon Castle

Pendragomn Castle

You know the story about King Arthur – this is the place where legend says his father Uther Pendragon lived. He died with 100 of his men when the castle was said to be poisoned by Saxons. This ruin, at the centre of the Mallerstang Valley, is blessed with incredible views but beware. It is said to be haunted by a black hen who guards the treasure!

Brough Castle

Brough Castle

This castle is believed to date back to 1092 as part of the Roman fort Verteris, to defend the Stainmore Pass end Eden Valley from attack. The castle’s superior position also provides views that deem a camera essential for any visit.

Lammerside Castle

Lammerside Castle

This part of the Eden Valley really is the stuff of legend. This was built in the 14th Century and in the tales of King Arthur, it is the site of Castle Dolorous, where the giant Tarquin ate little boys.

Poetry Path

Poetry Path

This is probably one of the most unique and picturesque art installations in the country. Celebrating a year in the life of a hill farmer, 12 short poems are carved into stone along a circular path alongside the River Eden. 

Town Trail

Kirkby Stephen Town Trail

There is so much history in Kirkby Stephen you wouldn’t want to miss anything. The interactive Town Trail will unlock the fascinating stories and histories of the area’s most notable buildings.

As well as legend, views and history Kirkby Stephen is also famous for wildlife. At the Smardale Gill Nature Reserve  and Waitby Greenriggs Nature Reserve you’ll find ancient woodland, bursting with wildflowers such as bluebells and primroses. Birds such redstart, wood warbler and buzzards are a common sight. Plus, Smardale Gill is one of only two sites in England where the Scotch argus butterfly can be seen.

As you can see there is plenty to explore in Kirkby Stephen and you can make your holiday as relaxing as you like, all within the backdrop of the stunning Eden Valley countryside.

Explore Kirkby Stephen and the surround areas more on our Kirkby Stephen page.


Smardale Gill Nature Reserve
Nature Reserve
Red Squirrels at Smardale Gill Nature Reserve near Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria

Smardale is a gem of a nature reserve away from the hustle and bustle of the Lake District. Dogs on leads are welcome. Native cattle graze here.



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