Earlier this year we spent a week on a farm in Kirkby Stephen and had the best time, switching off from the world and enjoying precious family time. We had never been to this part of the country before as we usually venture more towards the Lake District we we were unsure what to do and where to go but we found some great places.
Here is a little guide of some of our favourites for anyone planning on visiting
Franks bridge is situated just behind the main row of shops in Kirkby Stephen and is the start of a beautiful walk. You can stop by the bridge and skim stones into the river Eden, or if you are as daft as my children, get in and wade about. You can then follow the path in a circular pattern and take in the fresh air. If you stop off at the tourist information first they will give you a free walking guide that outlines things to look out for a long the way.
This tiny little train station is run by volunteers and is geared up for a visitors in a museum manor where you can explore the different station rooms. At the weekends you can also jump aboard a train and have a little ride for 1/2 a mile. It cost us £7 for the whole family (2 adults and 2 children) and we were able to ride as many times as we wanted all day long, which the boys loved. The trains are old fashioned and great conversation starters for inquisitive little minds. Our boys also got to help the conductor do the signals for the driver which they have talked about ever since. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Visit the old sweet shop
There is an old fashioned sweet shop in the village that is worth a visit, especially if you have a sweet tooth. They have all the old favourites and the staff are lovely
Smardale national park
Kirkby Stephen is surrounded by beautiful walks and stunning scenery. We ventured to the Smardale national park and walked along the path and then across a filed following the signs and hoping we wouldn’t get to lost. We found a beautiful quiet spot by a babbling brook where stopped for some stone skimming and a picnic and let Buddy have a swim. We then continued going higher up the hills, enjoying the scenery and the wild life roaming free until we stopped off for a drink before heading back. This route was child friendly and easy to complete and as it looped back we didn’t need to worry about getting lost either, which is always a bonus.
Pub with a view
We discovered the most wonderful beer garden at a pub in Nateby when we stopped during a walk around Smardale. There was a whole host of different seating options that all looked out over the fields as far as the eye could see. It was simply stunning and by far the most lovely beer garden we have even stopped off at. If you follow the path you can actually see the beer garden has a sign in the field and you can enter it that way, although we managed to miss this and walked the long way round and then came back this way.
If you are staying in or close to Kirkby Stephen and have a car and are willing to go a little further a field then we would recommend the following places too….
Rutter falls Water fall
This is a must see, it is breathtakingly beautiful, however, be warned it is literally on the door step of a guest house and parking is limited, the owner of the guest house doesn’t appreciate it if you park near his gate!
Appleby is about 20-25 minutes drive from Kirkby Stepehn and is a little town that is famous for its traveler events. It is worth a little visit, maybe half a day, to have a look round the shops, visit the St. Anne’s hospital, take in some history and if you have children stop off at the park too. There are also a umber of cafes, pubs and restaurants although we didn’t use any so can’t give recommendations on these.
Rheged is a one stop place for family activity in Penrith. There is a wonderful castle themed play area outside that is suitable for children up to about 13. Once inside there is an array of shops, cafes and a restaurant for you to enjoy as well as an indoor play area for younger children and a model painting place where you can choose a pot to paint and take home and not forgetting their cinema too. On our visit there was also a Roald Dahl experience on the top floor where you could walk through the giant peach and enjoy numerous interactive activities from different Roald Dahl books including Matilda and the BFG.
Kendla is about 20 minutes from Kirkby Stephen and is a busier town with lots of shops, many of which you would recognise from your own nearest high street as well as numerous supermarkets, so it’s great for a spot of retail therapy or to stock up on food if you are staying self catering in Kirkby Stephen.
Whilst in Kendal it’s nice to visit the castle ruins. There are plenty to explore and some fascinating bits of information to read whilst there. It is free to visit and the views from the top are definitely worth the walk. Again suitable for children as long as they are supervised but probably not for prams.