An easy eight-mile stroll along the River Eden from Kirkby Stephen in Cumbria.
Mallerstang is a place of mystery and legend. Ancient castles dot the landscape, ruins from a time when the marauding Scots and the defending English clashed frequently. The castles of Lammerside and Pendragon bear witness to these violent times. Both lie in unspoilt spots, which, if located elsewhere in the country, would be frantic with visitors and incur some kind of charge.
The walk is clearly signposted from Kirkby Stephen and is best done by walking ‘up dale’ on the western banks of the River Eden and returning on the eastern side.
1. Kirkby Stephen
The walk begins and ends at Kirkby Stephen station, which lies on the picturesque Settle Carlisle line – one of the finest train rides in Britain. After two miles of walking along the banks of the Eden, there is a surprise waiting in the middle, of a farmer’s field; the remains of Lammerside Castle. Built in the 12th century, Lammerside Castle was one of a series of pele towers built throughout the north of England to keep the Scots at bay. The castle was probably abandoned in the 17th century by the Wharton family when they relocated to the more impressive Hall bearing their name.
2. Arthurian legend
Continue for 1½ miles along the bridleway to reach Pendragon Castle, set upon some higher ground and surrounded by wild flowers and outstanding views. Legend has it that Uther Pendragon, King Arthur’s father, built the castle. Legend also goes on to say that Uther died along with 100 of his comrades when the Saxons poisoned the local drinking water.
Myth becomes more factual in the 12th century when a Norman lord Ranulph de Meschines built the present castle. Like Lammerside Castle though, Pendragon was soon utilized as a pele tower during the 14th century in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat the Scots. The castle was burned at least twice on raids from the north. Lady Anne Clifford was probably the last noteworthy owner and among other improvements she added a ‘brewhouse’ to the castle in the late 17th century. After her death, the castle was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
3. River Eden
Pendragon Castle is the far point of the walk and for the first two miles the return walk keeps largely to the banks of the beautiful River Eden and the impressive view across to Wild Boar Fell (named as the place where the last indigenous wild boar was killed in England). If returning to the train station, there is a wooden bridge before Nateby. Or, skirt along the fellside on the eastern banks until you re-enter the town with its choice of pubs, teashops and generously portioned sandwiches in the Mega Byte.
Click on the map below for an interactive version of the route.
HOW TO GET THERE
Kirkby Stephen station is the midway point of the Settle Carlisle railway.
FIND OUT MORE
For places to see and things to do visit www.kirkby-stephen.com