Great vistas, cosy pubs and a pretty market town...
FoodSome provided. Details below
Difficulty LevelsMultiple options available
1 - 2
The Pennine Way might be famous but how about the lesser-explored walking routes that radiate off from the National Trail at the Northern tip of the Pennines?
For this weekend we’re heading to a peaceful Cumbrian spot referred to as Britain’s true ‘northern moors’ where dramatic scenery, quiet routes and a market town brimming with good cafes and pubs are all part of the mix.
In a nutshell:
- Explore an area of Cumbria that most people bypass en-route to the Lakes.
- Enjoy the heady combination of walking in gritty, picturesque scenery and then tucking into great grub knowing you’ve earnt it!
- Relax in the company of our other lovely guests who are expert at chinwagging and chuckling.
- Friday 18th – Sunday 20th October 2019
The other worldliness of the North Pennines as the scenery shouts: ‘Look at Me’ will no doubt bring out the explorer in you as you travel towards Alston, a market town which is our base for the weekend.
No sooner have you stepped through the door of the hostel, when our Large Outdoors host will press a cup of tea into your hand and be introducing you to the rest of the crew.
After the introductions, some head out into the town for a pre-dinner drink in one of the pubs while others simply chill out while we’re preparing the evening meal.
After tucking into breakfast at 8am, we lay out enough food to feed a whole herd of hungry horses so that each guest can pack up their own lunch and snacks for the day.
We then split up into groups for the walks, each led by a qualified walking guide. The routes will change according to the weather and the level of challenge but to give you a taster they might include:
Cross Fell – A short distance to the south of Alston lies Cross Fell, the highest hill in England outside the Lake District, with sweeping views across the North Pennines and the Eden Valley. From Milburn we walk past the famous ‘’golf ball’ radar station on Great Dun Fell and then along the Pennines to the summit.
Heading upwards the vastness of the moors to the east and the valleys to the west becomes only too apparent and one member of the group will invariably feel that ‘Heathcliff moment’ before being told it’s the wrong part of the Pennines!
Our descent follows a track back down to Kirkland before taking farmland trails back to Milburn. This walk is a full day out and will stretch you while giving you that smug satisfaction of achievement.
Tynedale – For a shorter walk, we head out from Alston northwards up the valley of Tynedale; a trail that takes us over the flanks of the moor and past the Roman Fort at Whitley Castle, a key route to Hadrian’s Wall in the north.
Continuing up the valley, following the River South Tyne, we turn back at a point of our choice and follow the South Tyne Trail, which runs along an abandoned railway line, back home.
This walk is excellent for those wishing to experience the beauty of the valleys of the North Pennines, where we have a good chance of spotting the local wildlife.
Melmerby Fell – We grade this an intermediate walk. For this we tackle the great moss of Melmerby Hill at 709 metres, on the same ridge as Cross Fell but requiring less ascent.
From there we can follow tracks down the hill to the north-west with a myriad streams draining the moor-top before heading back to the café.
We’re spoilt for choice with paths meandering through three valleys leading from Alston, two of which follow scenic rivers through lovely tranquil valleys which are great alternatives when there’s low cloud spoiling views on the moor.
How many walk options are offered?
On each of our weekends we aim to offer two or more walk options each day, so you have a choice of a harder or easier day out. However, this is not always possible. On weekends where there is a small group, instead of cancelling the weekend, we will all head out on the same walk. This walk will be planned so that everyone can have a good day out, with the aim being a social group exploration of the local countryside.
Late afternoon onwards
After the walks have finished, there’s ample time to rest your limbs or an amble into Alston for a well-deserved slice of cake or celebratory drink (and why not!) before tonight’s dinner.
After another 8am breakfast it’s time to pack up our bags and leave the hostel. We’ll then split up into two groups and head off on walks in the surrounding area. Walk options include:
Hard Rigg – Towering above Alston in the east lies the hill of Hard Rigg. We first follow the River Nent before the ascent begins. Elated at having summited Hard Rigg and hopefully with some great views across to Alston and the moors, we drop down the far side towards West Allendale and making our way back to Alston. This is the longer of the day’s two walks, but the return leg can be cut short once back in Tynedale.
Whimsey Hill – The name itself is probably enough of an enticement to see what this hill is all about. Starting from the village of Nenthead, we complete a short circuit with a gradual ascent which gives us some grand vantage points including gazing down the long remote upland stream of Wellhope Burn before strolling downwards.
We aim for the Sunday walks to finish at around 1pm so the whole group can get together for a final Sunday lunch before departing at around 3pm.
About the location
The Northern Pennines
Known as the spine of England, the Pennines run for nearly 300 miles from the Peak District to the Scottish borders. The North Pennines lie in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it’s not hard to see why – with vast tracts of spectacular moorland scenery sliced through by roaring streams resulting in large valleys and plunging waterfalls.
The phrase Northern Grit holds true in these parts and yet the wildness only adds to the area’s appeal. The interest-value increases further knowing that Hadrian’s Wall is nearby.
Good to know:
Alston Youth Hostel,
Free Train Station Collection:
We will have a limited number of free collections from Penrith Train Station. We will be collecting at 3pm. These must be booked at least seven days in advance and are available on a first come first served basis.
- 2 nights hostel accommodation, please note bedding is supplied but you will need a towel
- 2 days of guided day walks – please note any excursions or other extra activities will incur an additional charge.
- Welcome meal on the Friday plus Saturday night evening meal. Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday and then a packed lunch for Saturday.
- As well as meals, we also provide a variety of complimentary soft drinks and beverages – tea & coffee which includes herbal, fruit and decaffeinated options and fruit squashes.
Kit lists – You can view our kit lists here…
For important information on what’s included with our standard trips, such as what food we supply, arrival times and answer to our most commonly asked questions please visit out our FAQ’s page
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What our members have to say...
Well, for a non-walker it was certainly challenging but my word was it exhilarating! The feeling of achievement after every day, was just fabulous. The group we went with were all strangers on day one, but firm friends by the end of the week. The comradery on some of the tougher walks, helped me to the top…..and wow what views. Anyone thinking of doing it - don’t worry….just go for it!ClaireMember Since 2016
“I didn’t really know what to expect on my first ever walking holiday and wasn’t very prepared if truth be known – lesson to all read the essential kit list especially waterproofs! It was great fun and what a lovely group of supportive and encouraging people, especially Gareth who did a great job looking after us all. I must admit at times I found it a bit challenging but what a great sense of achievement when we reached the top of the mountains (hills) I will definitely do this again.ElizabethMember Since 2016
My first Large Outdoors and (Ulster & the Giant's Causeway Walking Weekend) Irish experience was absolutely fantastic. Everything was organised perfectly and Gareth is a joy to be around. I loved every minute and will definitely book myself onto another trip. #toldallmyfriendstheyhavetocomeVanessaMember Since 2018