Tag Archives: Alston

Alston & The South Tynedale Railway.

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 πŸš‚ 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! 😊

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April ~ Round-Up. πŸ’š

It’s a wrap! April is over and here’s what I’ve got up to….

Chasing Lions.

READING. Again I have turned into a real slow coach on the reading front. I downloaded Amanda Marks memoir of her time driving around Africa in a truck for an adventure holiday company. Tiny Amanda worked in finance and after a mugging by a gang of school kids, she decides things have got to change! I am dipping in and out of this book and enjoying finding out about Amanda’s travels and whether she does indeed, find her inner lion 🦁.

Hacks.

WATCHING. Lots! Here are some shows I’ve enjoyed watching in April.

Derry Girls ~ Ongoing on Channel 4 and All 4. Hilarious comedy about five teens attending a Catholic school for girls during the troubles in nineties Northern Ireland. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hacks ~ Amazon Prime. An old pro Comedienne and a disgraced young comedy writer team up in this clever slow burner comedy drama. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Thief, His Wife And The Canoe. ITV Hub. The bizarre true story of a man who faked his own death to claim the insurance money, whilst continuing to live in the house next door. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Killing Eve ~ BBC I Player. It’s officially finished! The serial killing shenanigans of Villianelle take a backseat as the characters get their emotive…. and explosive endings. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Anatomy Of A Scandal ~ Netflix. Timely courtroom drama about a seemingly happily married politician put on trial for scandalous behaviour. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Life After Life ~ BBC I Player. Be prepared with your hankies if you watch this incredibly emotional war time drama. Ursula, a girl with an incredible sense of deja vu navigates the pitfalls of her life, again and again and again. Don’t think I will ever be able to look at silently falling snowflakes in the same way. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Life After Life After Life After Life …….

What have you been watching recently? Any recommendations?

Toms Table.

EATING. Finally went out for a meal to a popular little bistro in Clitheroe, and my, the food was delicious! See above.

Greatest Days Movie ~ being filmed down that road!

FILMING. Ok I have not actually been filming anything, but Clitheroe was taken over by a film crew for two weeks in April. Along with London and Athens, Clitheroe is one of the locations for new Rom Com Greatest Days ! The movie is about a group of Take That Fans navigating their lives, through the nineties until now. To a Take That Soundtrack. The town was rife with rumours that Gary, Mark and co would actually make an appearance. They will no doubt show up on location in Athens πŸ˜‰ instead.

It was raining and blowing a hoolie when this scene was filmed. And it took 28 takes. Photo from The Sun Online.

So what’s it like when your home town becomes a film set? At first I sought out the action, accidentally on purpose walking Hugo where I thought the filming might be taking place. But soon I couldn’t avoid it. Bursts of Never Forget and Could it Be Magic greeted us wherever we went. Oneday I popped to the market, only to find that nothing was for sale, the stalls had been paid to open as film props. Wil was surprised when a new hardware shop appeared , then disappeared a couple of days later. I bet all the Nineties shop signage did confuse a few people. πŸ˜€

Greatest Days will be out in 2023 !

Dodd Fell.

WALKS & Wainwrights. A favourite walk of mine that I did in April was a circuit of Derwent Water near Keswick with my sister & family. I also huffed up a couple of hills. Dodd Fell above ( see exciting exploring collage) and my favourately named fell Binsey, which really should become the moniker of my next pet. What a cute name. 😘

Pink Cherry Blossom.
Lilac.
Laburnum.

ENJOYING. Spring Blossom ~ My local town is adundant with beautiful blossom at the moment. Gorgeous! Which is your favourite ?

Around Alston.

Discovering New To Us Places ~ Alston is only 20 minutes drive from the caravan ,but we haven’t spent as much time there as another nearby town, Penrith. We’ve been trying to remedy that recently! Surrounded by wild moorland, Alston is known as the highest Market town in England.With cobbles and a market cross, I love this description I found online via Sally’s Cottages Guide To Alston ~ Alston is Steep, Unique and chock-full of charm ! Here’s my mini guide to my own personal favourite bits of Alston so far…….

Alston Wholefoods ~ Ethical Grocers and Delicatessen, famous for their large stock of cheeses.

Mellow Yellow ~ Aladdins Cave of clothes, accessories and gifts.

Hi Pennine Outdoor Shop ~ Outdoor clothing, equipment, maps and giftware.

Once Upon A Time ~ Eclectic Second hand book shop situated in The Alston Emporium.

Saddlers Bakery Bistro ~ Contemporary cafe and craft bakery.

Turks Head Pub ~ Cosy traditional drinkers pub with open fires, Real Ales and dog friendly.

The High Plaice ~ Popular Fish & Chips.

South Tynedale Railway ~ Charming Narrow Gauge Railway to nearby Slaggyford. Run by friendly volunteers. Lovely newly renovated cafe on the platform too.

Thanks for dropping by. 😘

Hot Summer Days.

I can’t quite believe how hot the weekend has been, especially Saturday! I am not big on hot weather, but finding nearby water to splash about in certainly helps.

We figured that heading to the Lakes from the caravan might just prove too crowded. So we packed our swimming stuff and found our way to Garrigill in the North Pennines. Having visited Ashgill Force back in October, we thought it might be nice to return to this lovely waterfall on a hot Summers Day.

Ashgill Force…looking dry.

Unfortunately we hadn’t thought that it might presently be but a trickle and not the mighty force that we remembered. Recent warm weather had dried up the fall. Luckily downstream were some smaller waterfall pools and not a soul in sight.

Hugo finds a waterfall.
Beckside path.
A narrow gorge.
Go on, jump in!

Unlike most labradors Hugo is not a great swimmer. He will go for a doggy paddle but tends to dip in and out of the water and is mostly only interested in the wet stuff if someone flings a stick/ball/stone in for him to retrieve. We also have to encourage him to have a drink. Daft dog!

I didn’t exactly do much swimming but I definitely cooled down in this mini waterfall which was like a natural jacuzzi. Refreshing and cold. πŸ™‚ Not long afterwards we were startled by a group of Gill Scramblers making their way upstream. I was so surprised I forgot to take a photo! Then we saw the flash of a Red Squirrels tail as it scrambled up a tree. A fab and mostly peaceful morning was spent by the water. πŸ™‚

Above Nook Farm Shop & Cafe.
Felt as warm as Rome.
A substantial salad.
Nook Farm Shop & Cafe.

A friend recommended a good spot for lunch about ten minutes drive from Garrigill. Nook Farm Shop & Cafe on the roadside near Alston is popular with motorcyclists and the food is quite delicious. The farmland is also home to the remains of an ancient Roman Fort which we were too hot and lazy to investigate. This time!

Early evening stroll in Melmerby.
Early morning stroll.
Breakfast on the decking.

Sunday too was hot though there were a few clouds in the sky. On the way home we met my Mum and brother for Sunday lunch at The Fat Lamb near Ravenstonedale, a quirky country Inn full of classic car memorabilia.

The Fat Lamb near Ravenstonedale.

How are you keeping cool? It’s a bit of a heatwave were having!

Garrigill to Ashgill Force walk πŸ₯ΎπŸ

At the weekend we took a walk from Garrigill in the North Pennines to the nearby waterfall of Ashgill Force. We bought an Alston Moor walk leaflet in the outdoors shop in Alston for 60p.

The route begins at Garrigill’s Village Green, we parked near the village church. Garrigill looks to be a lovely little village , whose pub and shop have seen better days.

St John’s Church.

Village Green.

George and Dragon sign.

The leaflet says that there were once two pubs in Garrigill. The George & Dragon was the haunt of visiting gentry, Tories and shooting parties, whilst the Fox was for miners, poachers and Liberals!

Climb the slippy bridleway to Loaning Head.

A Loaning Head cottage.

Views across the Pennines.

Kestrel.

There are lots of very high Stiles to climb over.

Swaledale Sheep.

One moment, blue skies…

the next, sideways rain..

Meadow Cranesbill.

The weather went a bit wild and after navigating about a million steep stiles we came across the waterfall. Unfortunately we had managed to deviate from our maps directions somehow, but we got there in the end.

Gill scramblers at Ashgill Force.

Ashgill Force.

It is apparently possible to walk behind the waterfall, and indeed ‘ Dance with the Fairies’ , although it looked a bit busy with Gill Scramblers the day we visited.

Hugo was joined in the gorge by another Black Labrador boy, which would be lovely if Hugo actually liked other boy labradors. Fortunately Hugo was more interested in the stones Wil were throwing in the water, than fighting. Phew!

Labradors.

Footbridge.

The rest of the walk was more of a gentle meander, following the River South Tyne back to Garrigill.

An almost stone circle.

Another footbridge.

A beautiful place for a dip.

Fly Agarics beside the river.

Autumn colours.

Buzzard.

A mini waterfall.

Attractive stone bridge.

Hips.

And back to the church.

I really enjoyed this scenic 5 mile walk and hopefully we will try it out again, maybe when the meadows are full of wildflowers come early Summer. πŸ™‚