Kirkby Stephen Tourist Information

Kirkby Stephen

Kirkby Stephen, positioned at the head of the Eden Valley enjoys the best of both worlds with the fells and waters of the Lake District to the west, and the valleys and moorlands of the Yorkshire Dales National Park to the east.
This ancient market town is not generally regarded as one of the Lake District “honeypot” locations, but for those who know, it stands on the doorstep to one of the few remaining uncrowded wild and unspoiled landscapes in the region.
Here, hundreds of miles of quiet paths and trails are at the disposal of those who are seeking the calm and peace of a walking holiday well away from the rigours of the larger towns. However, although Kirkby Stephen is a little way off the beaten track, it is a self sufficient community offering a broad range of shops, stores, restaurants, cafés, inns, a post office, 2 banks and of course good quality tried and tested holiday accommodations all ready to roll out the red carpet for their guests.

Kirkby Stephen Market Square

Bus Services

Connections to Penrith, Appleby, Brough, Sedbergh, Kendal. Timetable information from  or

Rail Services

The railway station on the Settle to Carlisle route is one mile from the town. Details of destinations and timetables from

Nearby Villages

Nateby, Hartley, Ravenstonedale, Newbiggin-on-Lune, Mallerstang.

For more information on Kirkby Stephen, visit:

For information on nearby Mallerstang, visit:

Attractions in Kirkby Stephen

Popular Walks

Northern Viaducts Round - This is a walking or cycling path along the disused track bed of the Stainmore Railway. It can be joined from Stenkrith Park in the town and crossing the Millennium Bridge or, from the  nearby village of Hartley. Along the way are restored platelayers huts, information boards detailing the history of the line, and the restored award winning viaducts of Podgill and Merrygill. Descriptive leaflets about the Northern Viaducts Trust are available from the Tourist Information Centre.

The Eden Way
A long distance trail beginning from Mallerstang Edge near Kirkby Stephen to Carlisle via Warcop, Appleby, Langwathby, Kirkoswald, Armathwaite and Wetheral. A large section of the walk follows the route of the River Eden.

The Poetry Path - Poet Meg Peacocke's celebration of the Eden Valley. Her 12 poems marking the farming calendar, are carved into a set of stones, some of which are placed in walls, stiles and upright in the ground along the route similar to milestones. For information and a booklet, visit the Tourist Information Centre.

Lady Annes Way - A 100 mile walk from her birthplace in Skipton via Wharfedale, Wensleydale and Brougham Castle near Penrith.

Lady Anne Clifford Westmorland Heritage Trail - Runs from her former home at Appleby Castle to Kirkby Stephen.

Wainwright's Coast to Coast - C2C - Kirkby Stephen, standing 82 miles from St Bees on Cumbria's West Coast and 108 miles from Robin Hoods Bay on the east coast of Yorkshire is a welcome stop over or joining point on Wainwrights Coast 2 Coast Walk.

The Howgills & Limestone Trail
A long distance picturesque walk of 75 miles demanding in places. It begins from Kirkby Stephen and follows a route to Ravenstonedale, over the Howgill Fells to Cautley and Sedbergh, and then on to Barbon, Ingleton, Horton-in-Ribblesdale and ending in Settle. The route is closely linked to railways and at one stage crosses the imposing Smardale Gill Viaduct close to the Stainmore Railway, the disused Ingleton and Tebay Railway, and the Settle to Carlisle Railway.

Smardale Gill Walk
This is a level walk of about 4 miles along a tree-lined disused railway track bed in the Smardale Gill National Nature Reserve and Area of Special Scientific Interest. It's a route surrounded by woodlands, wild flowers, birds, butterflies and occasional sights of red squirrels and roe deer.
Cumbria Wildlife Trust have placed information boards at regular intervals along the way to help walkers identify the rich diversity of wildlife. A highlight of the walk is crossing Scandal Beck on the 90 feet high, 550 feet long and 14 arches of Smardale Viaduct – a truly impressive example of Victorian engineering and now preserved by the Northern Viaduct Trust.

Getting there: From the A685 between Ravenstonedale and Kirkby Stephen, take the turning signposted Smardale. Ignore the turning to Waitby. Cross the railway and turn left at the
junction. Ignore the sign to Smardale hamlet and cross the disused railway, turn immediately left and then left again for the car park.
By bike: The reserve is a couple of miles from National Route 72 Walney to Wear

Nine Standards Walk
Start from Franks Bridge and follow the C2C route to Hartley village. From here it's uphill with ever expansive views of the Eden Valley and on to the  nine large stone cairns of the Standards. It has not been established why they were built but whatever the reason, they add value and interest as an Eden Valley attraction.

Yomp Mountain Challenge
An annual event formerly known as the Mallerstang Horseshoe & Nine Standards Yomp. The full challenge is a run, or walk if you wish, of 23 miles over the Eden Valley fells but there are shorter routes of 11.5 miles and 6.5 miles. All routes are over fell land, bogs and tussock and clearly marked at regular intervals. Entries can be as a team or solo. For route description and how to enter go to

Ancient Castles of Mallerstang Walk
This walk has been featured on the BBC television “Countryfile” programme. It's a well signposted route of about 4 miles to the ruins of the ancient castles of Lammerside and Pendragon in the Mallerstang Valley. Start and finish at Kirkby Stephen station on the Settle to Carlisle line.

Franks Bridge
The bridge, once used to bring coffins across the river from the village of Hartley, is on Wainwrights C2C Walk. It's only a few minutes walk from the market square and leads to a pleasant riverside stroll and picnic area.

Settle to Carlisle Railway

Described as “Englands most scenic railway journey”, Kirkby Stephen is an Eden Valley station stop on this famous railway line between Leeds and Carlisle. It's a marvel of Victorian engineering symbolised by the 24 arch Ribblehead Viaduct. More than 6000 labourers were employed during its construction and many died from from accidents and disease. The full number is not known but a memorial stone in St Marys Church, Mallerstang, commemorates 25 builders and their families and another site contains 80 unmarked graves. Regular daily diesel passenger services operate but for a truly memorable experience, take a ride on one of the steam hauled excursions. Free car parking at the station. Great walks from intermediate stations.

Stainmore Railway Company

A Railway Heritage attraction with a programme of events including “Steam Days”: “Steam Gatherings”: Footplate Experience Courses: a Model Railway Show and more. It's open at the weekends (except Christmas) from 10am till 4pm. with a number of days when diesel/steam passenger trains operate.

Historical Monuments

Pendragon Castle

The ruins of the 12th C castle are in nearby Mallerstang Dale. If legend is to be believed, it was founded by Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur. It stands on private land but access is allowed.
However, it's true that the present castle was built in the 12th C and later used as a Pele Tower during some of the many attempts to defeat the Scots. Over the centuries it was twice badly damaged by fire and it was not until the late 17th C when it was bought by Lady Anne Clifford that it was fully restored and improvements made. After her death it once more fell into disrepair. The castle stands on private ground and visitors are warned of the dangers of falling stones. Before visiting, contact the Tourist Information Office for access advice.
A song alluding to the restoration of estates and castles to Lord Clifford of which Pendragon was one, goes as follows.
“How glad Pendragon-though the sleep
 Of years be on her-she shall reap
 A taste of this great pleasure, viewing
 As in a dream her own renewing,
 Rejoicing in Brough, right glad I deem
 Beside her little humble stream;
 And she that keepeth watch and word
 Her statlier Eden's course to guard;
They both are happy at this hour
Though each is but a lonely flower”.

Lammerside Castle
Situated on farmers land  in the Mallerstang Valley about 2 miles from Pendragon Castle, Lammerside was one of a series of Pele Towers built as a defence against the Scots. It was abandoned in the 17th C and little remains of the original building. The ruins of both castles can be seen on the Ancient Castles of Mallerstang Walk.

The River Eden is a major game fishing river. Salmon and brown trout. More information at

Bessy Beck Trout Fishery is situated at the foot of the Howgills between Kirkby Stephen and Tebay It has fishing for all abilities from three small lakes providing challenges for the experienced fly fisherman and bait-fishing only for families and children. Tackle and bait can be hired. Angling tuition. Safe and easy access. Farm shop. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Kirkby Stephen & District Angling Association
Fly fishing for wild brown trout amid beautiful Eden Valley scenery. The association's website provides detailed information of the Eden Valley waters including location, pictures, reports and a selection of “fishermans stories”. To help promote the benefits and pleasures of angling, the association is offering free membership to anyone under the age of 18 years.

Town Attractions
Kirkby Stephen Parish Church - Dating from 1175, it stands on the site of a former Saxon Church.

The Loki Stone - An 8th C carved stone relic of the Viking occupation depicting a figure with beard and horns is in the west end of the church.

Franks Bridge - A 17th C pack horse bridge close to a child friendly recreation area and riverside picnic spot.

Stoneshot Alley - A hiding place beneath here was used by the towns inhabitants as a refuge during raids by the Border Reivers.

Settle - Carlisle Railway - The town is a station stop on this famous 72 mile route which passes through the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales and the lush Eden Valley. Check for steam train excursions, and, book early.

Eden Benchmarks - 10 carved stone sculptures, not in the town, but easily accessed. All by different sculptors and designed to reflect local pride in the countryside are placed on public foot paths along the River Eden between Mallerstang and Carlisle. “Passage”, one of the works by Laura White, has been placed  in Stenkrith Park close to the town. For more information visit

Kirkby Stephen Parish Church