Earlier this year we spent a week on a farm in Kirkby Stephen. We had the best time switching off from the world and enjoying precious family time together, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We had never been to this part of the country before as we usually stay in the Lake District when we head this way. As a result we were unsure on what things we could do in Kirby Stephen and I was a bit worried we might end up a little bored after a couple of days but we needn’t have worried as we found plenty to keep us busy. Below I have listed some of our favourites and I hope they help you if you are planning on visiting Kirkby Stephen any time soon.
Things to do in Kirkby Stephen
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 which is a great way to keep the kids engaged on the walk.
If you do call in at the Tourist Information for the map be sure to check out some of their other walks and suggestions for things to do in Kirkby Stephen and the surrounding area.
Train rides at the Stainmore Railway
If you have children or a train enthusiast then one of the things you have got to do whilst in Kirkby Stephen is head to Stainmore Railway. This tiny little train station is run by volunteers and is geared up for a visitor in a museum manner where you can explore the different station rooms and learn all about the history of Kirkby Stephen railway. There are a number of information stations, photos and hands on activities for the kids to explore. It makes for a fascinating and educational trip.
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. Stainmore Railway is well worth a visit if you are in the area, the volunteers are so knowledgeable and kind and we will definitely return when we get chance.
Visit the old sweet shop
There is an old fashioned sweet shop on the main road that runs through Kirkby Stephen that is worth a visit, especially if you have a sweet tooth. It is only small but hey have all the old favourites and the staff are lovely. They have plenty of pocket money type sweets too so it isn’t expensive and should be added to your list of things to do Kirby Stephen whether you have children or not simply for the nostalgia is offers.
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 we stopped for some stone skimming and a picnic. We also let Buddy, our cocker spaniel, have a swim here which he loved. We then continued going higher up the hills, enjoying the scenery and watching the wild life roaming free (don’t worry Buddy was back on his lead) including sheep and horses. Finally we we stopped off for a drink at a lovely little pup in Nateby that had the most fantastic views before heading back. 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.
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. A walk through Smardale National Park is great for walkers of all levels as there are a number of paths so if being outside and exploring if your things then make sure you pat Smardale a visit.
Things to do near Kirby Stephen
Kirby Stephen is not very big but if you have a car and are happy to travel a little bit you will find lots of other wonderful things to do near by. Here our some of our favourites.
Rutter falls Water fall
Rutter falls water fall is an absolute 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! So be prepared to park and walk, which, isn’t a hardship as the surrounding area is equally beautiful.
Appleby is about 20-25 minutes drive from Kirkby Stephen and is a little town that is famous for its traveler events. It is worth a 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 number 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. If you are looking for things to do near Kirkby Stephen then I suggest you google Rheged and check out what events are on during you stay, especially if you think the weather is going to be bad as most of it is under cover.
Kendal 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. It’s great for a spot of retail therapy or to stock up on food if you are staying self catering.
Whilst in Kendal it’s nice to visit the Kendal 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.
We hope this helps you plan things to do in Kirkby Stephen so you can make the most of your visit.