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 !
Thanks for reading. Enjoy your Sunday! 😊