Kirkby Stephen

Kirkby Stephen is a market town soaked in historic buildings, cobbled yards, interesting shops, and quaint corners. Surrounded by rural scenery and wild uplands, Kirkby Stephen offers spectacular views in every direction. It has been part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park since 2016. Known for its vibrant sense of local community and self-sufficient identity, Kirkby Stephen is an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The Market Square is dominated by Romanesque red sandstone Cloisters as the portico for the parish church or the ‘Cathedral of the Dales’. Many of the buildings in Kirkby Stephen are built from the local Brockram stone. Just away from the main street the town is filled with hidden narrow ginnels and wiends.

Kirkby Stephen is also the home of Coast to Coast Packhorse! It is a main stop on your journey along the coast to coast walk and known as the true walking hub with the Walkers are Welcome accreditation.

Walkers are Welcome accreditation logo

Where is Kirkby Stephen?

Kirkby Stephen is located in the beautiful Upper Eden Valley – formerly the county of Westmorland, now Cumbria. Although this is a much less well-known area of Cumbria compared to the Lake District, it is equally as stunning.

Things to do in Kirkby Stephen

Whether it’s exploring, relaxing away from the crowds, walking over the fells and moorlands, or ambling along the River Eden path, this is a must visit location. This vibrant and warming town will stun visitors with its unique independent shops and bustling cafe scene – all set within a historical Conservation Area.

In the centre of the town is the Upper Eden Visitor Centre, where you can find all the information you need to explore the town and discover its history. During your visit, you can soak up and learn of all the tales and legends that surround this beautiful town.

Did you know: the coast the coast walk, devised by Alfred Wainwright passes through Kirkby Stephen. The town is flooded with facilities including places to eat and stay that walkers can take advantage of.

Kirkby Stephen Parish Church

You can explore the Parish Church and learn about the Viking settlers and their Loki Stone, only two of which are known in Europe. Did you know: Loki was a Norse god and it is likely worshiping him would have come across with the Viking settlers. The carving depicts a figure with sheep horns and bound in chains.

On the other hand, you could hear the tale of Sir Thomas Wharton who bought the parish church from Henry VIII and founded the Kirkby Stephen Grammar School in 1566 – which is still preserved as the council centre and library today.

Kirkby Stephen Church

Visit the River Eden

Plunging into a deep gorge, the River Eden is on the edge of town in Stenkrith Park. Over hundreds of years, circular holes have been created by pebbles swirling around in them. The River Eden is also a fantastic starting route along the old railway line to the nearby village of Hartley. 

Kirkby Stephen Station

About half a mile down from the town is the Kirkby Stephen Station is on the settle to Carlisle railway line, providing one of the most scenic journeys in the UK.  Historically, there was another line through the town, The Stainmore Railway Company, travelling from Tebay to Darlington – but this closed in 1962. After being restored, the East Station is now a heritage centre, housing several steam and diesel trains, alongside a short stretch of track for train rides.

Nine Standards Rigg

Overlooking Kirkby Stephen, the Nine Standards Rigg is soaked in mystery. Situated at the summit of Hartley Fell, Nine Standards Rigg is a magical place in the North Pennines area of outstanding natural beauty. A staple landmark for coast to coast walkers.

Surrounding areas

There are lots of villages in the Upper Eden area, all set in stunning countryside. Little Musgrave and Wharton are home to ancient cultivation terraces, Warcop houses a quaint narrow medieval bridge. The pretty villages of Hartley Nateby. All have historic buildings and some very charming churches drench in history and culture. 


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