Just to confuse you ( and myself ! ) this post includes photos from two separate visits to Alston and The South Tynedale Railway. We were there in the Spring ( I included a brief update in my April Round-Up) and also more recently in July. The weather was actually better in April! Anyway I’ve mixed the best photos together , so you get an idea of what the area is like. 😊
The top of this North Pennines town is 350 metres above sea level, making it England’s highest Market Town. However I haven’t actually stumbled upon a market happening yet !
There are plentiful old buildings in Alston, many have been recently renovated by the Alston Townscape Heritage Scheme. The olde worldy look of the town has been used in the past to its advantage. It was transformed into a Victorian fishing village for a 1999 BBC adaptation of Oliver Twist.
Once upon a time Alston was connected to the Northumberland town of Haltwhistle by rail. The 13 mile track was closed in the seventies , but part of it has been preserved as a Narrow Gauge Heritage Railway. On both our visits we headed to the railway for walks along the adjoining railway footpath.
There’s a fantastic cafe at the Station called Hickins@thecrossing’scafe which is the perfect pitstop for a lovely lunch. It’s so welcoming , I wouldn’t have a problem waiting there a while. 😚 Also at Alston Station is a museum, toilets , shop and ticket office.
Walking the South Tyne Trail ,which runs adjacent to the railway 🚂 is a pleasure. There are bridges, views and wildlife along the way. Springtime saw Lapwings nesting in the fields, undisturbed by passing walkers and trains. Summer blooms such as Orchids and Melencoly Thistles adorn the trackside from June. In April we walked to Kirkhaugh Station and caught the train back and in July we continued on to Slaggyford ( 5 miles ) , which is currently the end of the line.
There are both Steam and Diesel Locomotives in operation and the railway is run by a friendly group of volunteers.
Between Alston and Slaggyford you can hop on and off at both Kirkhaugh and Lintley. Various local Walks leaflets are available from Alston Station.
On our second visit we arrived at Slaggyford Station in perfect time to catch the train back, after a quick brew at the buffet car. Dogs aren’t allowed inside the buffet car, but the pretty waiting room is open to all, including four legged friends.
We didn’t get time to explore the Northumberland village of Slaggyford on this occasion. It’s unusual name possibly derives from the Old English for dirty muddy ford, referencing a fast moving part of the River Tyne that dredged up river mud.
The journey back from Slaggyford takes about 30 minutes on the train. The carriages are more spacious than that of The Ratty Narrow Gauge Railway at Ravenglass & Eskdale.
We ended both our excursions with a pint at the Turks Head Pub in Alston. I had first thought the pub was named after an actual Turkish Man’s bonce, but a Turks Head is actually a decorative knot !
Way up high in Manchester’s Beetham Tower, it is almost possible to indulge in Afternoon Tea……….in the clouds. With 47 floors this landmark skyscraper on Deannsgate is the highest building in Manchester. Comprising of 219 luxury apartments and 16 penthouse suites, the tower is also the tallest residential building in Europe. Floors 1 to 23 are occupied by the Hilton Hotel, and it is indeed on the twenty third floor that it’s Cloud 23 Bar is located. Two friends and I caught the train to the big city last Friday for shopping, cocktails and of course Afternoon Tea. 😊
We had ordered the Cocktail Afternoon Tea as one friend had recently celebrated a special birthday. I was immediately struck by the view in the photo above, now that too is special!
It would have been fabulous to have been seated there, but sadly we were shown into the lounge area. I wasn’t too taken with the carpet, which would look more at home at Manchester Airport. And our first seats were not even by the window, fortunately we were moved on request.
The birthday girl soon got to grips with dancing on the table! Joke. 😃 She is in fact stood on a glass walkway ( a bit like a mini version of the ‘ Walk of Faith’ up Blackpool tower) where you can see all the way down to the bottom floor. Eye dizzying.
Our Afternoon Teas came served on easy to carry chrome cake stands. And there was a choice of coffees, tea, infusions or hot chocolate. I chose an iced coffee which was very refreshing.
I must say, I really enjoyed the selection of delicate finger sandwiches, petite cakes and decadent desserts. The chocolate bomb was super indulgence. 😚
Our cocktails arrived and the one I had chosen was certainly theatrical! Metropolis had the wow factor , it came with a fluffy candy floss topping, rather like a cloud. I loved it. ❤️
The Birthday Girls cocktail didn’t have any flare , though tasted fine, our other friends cocktail tasted…medicinal.
The Cocktail Afternoon Tea at Cloud 23, for me , was a 4 out of 5 stars experience. As it cost an eye watering £40 , three girls from a tiny town , escaping for the day to the Big City, had high expectations!
. Afternoon Tea high in the clouds should always be situated with a view, when possible. Happily we were relocated.
. The pattern on the crockery made the inside of the cups look stained. They weren’t, though we think a nicer set should be used.
. The cocktails were hit and miss. Mine was fabulous. The others didn’t have the same wow factor.
. Although I had mentioned my friends birthday onthe booking form, our server didn’t refer to this at any point.
So I’m definitely not saying I would never go back, but there’s some room for improvment. I did however love the drama of a panoramic afternoon tea.
It’s time to be a tourist in my own town and write a blog about Clitheroe !
So what exactly is there to do in this vibrant Ribble Valley market town nestled at the foot of Lancashire’s legendary Pendle Hill. Scroll down to find out. ⬇️
1. Wander Up The Second Smallest Castle Keep In England.
Yes! Clitheroe is home to England’s second smallest Castle Keep. Our tiny castle sits proudly on a grassy hill , enjoying commanding views of the town and surrounding fells. Built in the 12th century the Norman Limestone Keep resides over landscaped gardens and parkland. In the grounds there are also a bandstand, skate park and children’s playground. Hugo the labrador and I like to check on the Leaping Salmon sculpture in the former Rose Garden and then head for an ice cream at 3 C’s Indulgence Cafe .
2. Take A Tour Of The Castle Museum.
Also within the walls of Clitheroe Castle is the Clitheroe Castle Museum . Situated in the former Stewards House this family friendly attraction displays 350 million years of local history. Little Kids and Big Kids can pick up an Explorers Pack to take on a journey through time then decamp to the museum gift shop. And make sure you take a look in The Stewards Gallery nextdoor. The latest Free Exhibition news can be found here. 🚲
3. Explore The Towns Lovely Independent Shops.
Clitheroe is famous for its variety of independent shops, some such as Cowmans Famous Sausage Shop on Castle Street and D Byrne & Co Fine Wines on King Street are traditional town treasures. Newer foodie retailers have sprung up in recent years too. Check out Georgonzola Delicatessen and Bowland Food Hall for posh picnics and picky teas. And don’t forget to visit the town’s bustling market , which is open every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
If I’m looking for gift inspiration I love to browse in The Shop Of Hope for ethical & locally sorced wares, Number Ten Books for reading related gifts and Raffia or Roost for special treats. There are plenty of other lovely shops to have a nosy in as well, we are spoilt for choice. And do break up your browsing with a hot chocolate or coffee & cake in one of Clitheroes many friendly cafes. Check out this POST for ideas.
Did you know that Clitheroe is a top foodie destination? The Ribble Valley as a whole has a variety of renound countryside gastro pubs that regularly appear in Top Ten Best Eaterie Lists. Clitheroe will once again be hosting the areasfamous Food Festivalon Saturday the 30th of July, bringing the best of Lancashire’s locally sorced produce all together in its bustling streets and market place. I’m all for foodie posts so let’s continue. Read on…..
4. Enjoy Afternoon Tea On The Terrace At Tom’s Table.
On a warm Summers day what could be more decadent than partaking in a sumptuous afternoon tea on a sunny terrace. Toms Table at Lee Carter House is a French inspired bistro with a lovely outside area from where you can enjoy a light lunch or teatime treat. My sister and I loved Toms Afternoon Tea, which of course can be booked indoors too. From £20 per head. 🍰
5. Fill Up On Bottomless Brunch At Escape.
Those inspired folk over at at Escape have exciting plans for Summer! Already noted for their exquisite cocktails and Thursday Pizza nights, this rustic coffee & cocktail bar has recently opened an outdoor terrace. Yep we are definitely loving sun trap terraces in Clitheroe right now! And what better place to fill up on Boozy Bottomless Brunch. £30 per head.
6. Share A Sunday Platter At Brizola Bar & Grill.
Bringing a little bit of Greece to Clitheroe, Brizola Bar & Grill has recently won a Best Medetreanean Restaurant Award at the coveted Food Awards. Serving simple yet tasty Greek style dishes, this bijou eaterie does an amazing looking Sunday Platter. Book me in ! Find Brizola in the Swan Courtyard. £15 per person for the Sunday Platter.
7. Discover Clitheroe’s Many Bars, Old and New.
And there are alot! Clitheroe has a fantastic selection of varied pubs and bars, at least six of which only opened in the past two years. The pandemic doesn’t seem to have done our bar scene much harm. Here are a few suggestions.
Good For Real Ale & Cider ~ Settle down for a pint with the locals in a proper old fashioned pub, The New Inn on Parson Lane. Marvel at one of the country’s longest continuous bars at Bowland Beer Hall Holmes Mill , there are 42 handpulls. Enjoy your Craft Beers with Beer Snacks at The Beer Shack . Chill out with a local craft beer/cider/natural wine at Corto. Like your micro bar with live music? Head over to The Ale House .
Good For Gin & Cocktails ~ I love the cocktail menu at bijou bar The Parlour , it’s packed with parlour tricks. Escape are famous for their hand crafted cocktails. Flavourful gins and instagrammable interiors await at The Dispensary. Also on Moor Lane SauceBox know how to conjor up a cocktail. A little out of town, but worth the walk is The King’s Wine & Cocktail Bar.
Good For Other Stuff ~ Grab a comfy sofa and bottle of wine to share with friends at Parisian style brasserie & wine bar The Emporium . Make the most of the sunshine and people watch from the roof terrace at Maxwell’s Cafe & Wine Bar. Popular Brunch venue Jungle on Moor Lane is a lively bar on Saturday nights. Retro feels galore at The Old SchoolRoom. Plenty more pubs and bars in Clitheroe, so enjoy exploring. It’s the perfect town for a pub crawl !
8. Go Duck Pin Bowling At Holmes Mill.
I am waiting in anticipation for Clitheroes latest addition! Holmes Mill is opening a Duck Pin Bowling Alley in the Old Boiler House. According to the link above ‘ this new attraction will include four duckpin bowling lanes – similar to ten-pin bowling but the pins and bowling balls are smaller, the lanes are shorter, and the action is even more intense.’ As things stand now the alley is currently behind schedule. Let’s hope it opens soon…
9. Catch A Film At Everyman Cinema.
Also in the popular Holmes Mill Complex, my town is lucky enough to have a fabulous Picture House. If you love the comfort of curling up on a snug sofa whilst watching a film, having your food & drinks orders delivered to your seat and even hiding behind a cushion during a scary movie moment, then you will enjoy visiting Everyman Cinema , an evening there is such a treat! Food and drinks can also be eaten in the bar from The Speilburger Menu.
10. Buy A Piece Of Local Art.
There are several lovely art galleries in Clitheroe, where you can browse an eclectic selection of art by local artists. My favourite is Platform Gallery & Visitor Information Centre located by the railway Station, I love the cards there and have bought some cute gifts. There’s a list of the towns gallery’s and art studios on the Art Walk Website. Another arty event happening in Clitheroe Draw Clitheroe is a day of fun activities to inspire a love of drawing and art, pencil the 6th August in your diaries! Oh and don’t forget to check out local bar Corto and it’s Bog Art gallery.
11. Get Your Walking Boots On.
Clitheroe nestles at the foot of Pendle Hill , which at 557m is the highest point in the Ribble Valley. If you like a challenging hike, this Route will take you from the town, through fields and up Pendle, a mystical hill , famed for its association with both Quakers and Witches. Clitheroe is also on The Ribble Way, a long distance ramble that takes you along the River Ribble from its source in North Yorkshire to the Irish Sea. Shorter walks in Clitheroe can be enjoyed in Brungerley Park, which is home to a Nature Reserve and a Sculpture Trail , along the river at Edisford Bridge with its miniature railway or around Salthill Quarry Nature Reserve. There are numerous footpaths to explore!
Northeast Allie is a blog that reflects influences from the Philadelphia area and the regions around it. It explores perspectives on life, encouragement, travel, wellness, and local living so that you can really enjoy this unique community!