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Alston

Alston sits at the junction of several trans-Pennine routes; its steeply cobbled streets, hidden courtyards and quaint shops inviting exploration at every turn.

Surrounding the town is Alston Moor, a beautiful and diverse area known for its rare alpine flora and moorland birds, but 250 years ago it was all very different. This was once one of the richest mining areas in Britain and reminders of this industry are everywhere. Grassed-over spoil heaps, sunken pits, rusting machinery and a myriad of tracks and byways all speak of the riches once gleaned from underground. Nestling in these upland valleys are the lead-mining villages of Nenthead and Garrigill.

Historically, this harsh landscape nurtured close-knit, self-sufficient communities but it has now become an inspiration for the many craftspeople that live and work in this scenic corner of Cumbria. Today, the special combination of open moorlands and dales, scattered communities and a rich mining heritage defines the North Pennines AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
Eden Valley
Appleby in Westmorland
Appleby in Westmorland

Appleby-In-Westmorland

The ancient market town and royal borough of Appleby, in the heart of the Eden Valley, is the focal point for many outlying villages and hamlets.
Kirkby Stephen
Kirkby Stephen

Kirkby Stephen & Brough

A landscape rich in myths and legends, in prehistoric settlements and burial mounds, strategic Roman forts and defensive Norman castles.
Alston
Alston

Alston

Alston is the highest market town in England and sits at the junction of several Trans-Pennine routes. Surrounding the town is Alston Moor, a beautiful and diverse area known for its rare alpine flora and moorland birds.
Penrith
Penrith

Penrith & Surrounding Area

Located at an important intersection of routes between Scotland and England and a cross-Pennines road, the historic market town of Penrith has reaped the benefits of good transport links for centuries.

Book Your Stay

 
Ghyll Burn Cottage

Ghyll Burn Cottage

Self-catering with 1 unit, £63-£103 pupn sleeps 6

Alston Art Apartments

Alston Art Apartments

Self-catering with 3 units, £350-£650 pupw sleeps 2-5

Sunrise Cottage

Sunrise Cottage

Self-catering with 1 unit, £301-£651 pupw sleeps 1-5

Lovely modern kitchen

Isaac's Byre

Self-catering with 1 unit, £395-£801 pupw sleeps 1-6

Things to do

What's on

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There are a variety of events taking place in Alston and the surrounding areas over the year. Why dont you check out the calendar and see what's on while you're here?

For events happening around the county, click below for our What's On page.

Browse All Events

Surrounding Areas

Nenthead Village
Garrigill Village

Culture and Heritage

A686, Alston
Alston Railway Station
Alston Town Centre

Alston Moor was occupied by the Romans who worked opencast lead mines here. Whitley Castle was not only a garrison fort on the Maiden Way from Kirkby Thore (near Appleby) to Carvoran (on Hadrian's Wall), but also guarded the mineral deposits of the area. Early settlers on Alston Moor scratched a living by raising a few sheep, cattle, pigs and chickens and growing hardy crops.

Over time, parts of the barren moorland were converted into productive farmland. However, farming alone wasn't enough to survive on and many householders supplemented their income through mining. Life on these upland hills was unremittingly hard, leading to poverty and a high infant mortality rate. Alston Moor is honeycombed with old mine workings.

Valley's were repeatedly dammed and hushed, creating an overdeepened notch on the fellside - one of the best known being Dowgang Hush, near Nenthead.The difficulties of access created close-knit communities bonded by the common interests of mining, farming and religion. There are numerous Methodist, Quaker and Congregational chapels dotted all over Alston Moor. 

In 1753 a Quaker-owned London Lead Company took over the mining rights and began to expand production. In 1828, the company designed and built Nenthead, the first purpose built industrial village in England. These small field enclosures remain as distinctive features of the area. Nenthead became the main centre of lead mining in the North Pennines.

In 1852, the Alston branch of the Carlisle to Newcastle railway opened and prospered for around 120 years. The local road the A689 was recently listed by the Automobile Association as one of the ten best drives in the world.

In the mid-19th century, the population of Alston Moor was five times what it is now. However, in the 1880s, many miners found a new life in North America.

Nenthead Mines

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