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Great vistas, cosy pubs and a pretty market town...

Book your experience
Available dates:
  • Duration

    2 Nights
  • Accommodation

  • Food

    Some provided. Details below
  • Difficulty Levels

    Multiple 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 17th – Sunday 19th July 2020

Social walking weekend to the north pennines

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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.

Social walking weekend to the north pennines


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.

Alston YHA

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.

Alternative options

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.

Social walking weekend to the north pennines

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.

Alston YHA


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.

Sunday afternoon

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:

Venue Address:

Alston Youth Hostel,
Firs Edge,
The Firs,

What’s Included:

  • 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.

Useful Links:

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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Join our members page and share stories, pictures and reviews here: www.facebook.com/groups/largeoutdoors

  • Dietary Needs:

    Vegetarian or Vegan: 

    We will always supply a vegetarian or vegan meal, however due to the remote locations of our venues these must be booked at least 7 days in advance.


    Unfortunately, we are unable to cater for a wide variety of diets. Therefore, if you follow a particular diet and wish to know what we will be serving please contact the office the week before your trip. If you don’t feel the menu is suitable then you are of course welcome to bring your own meals.

    Allergies, Intolerances & Gluten Free.

    Please ensure you list any allergies and intolerances clearly during the booking process, with notice we are able to offer gluten free meals and can accommodate most allergies. However, please note that due to the shared nature of the kitchens we cannot eliminate the possibility of cross contamination. If you have any questions, then please contact the office.

    Halal or Kosher:

    We are unable to offer Halal or Kosher meals but will be happy to supply a vegetarian alternative, please ensure you request this when booking.

    Simply complete the dietary section during the booking process or if your dietary needs have changed email the office and we will update your records.

  • Ticket and Room Types:

    Shared Room: This is our standard ticket ideal for solo travellers, individuals and small groups of friends, we will place you in a suitable same sex room, sharing with others. This will vary on the venue and can be twin rooms up to dorm style rooms on our hostel-based trips.

    If you make one booking for a group of people, we will do our best to accommodate you all in one room. However, if you and your friends have made a series of separate bookings but wish to be together, simply email us with a group list.

    Private Rooms: Whenever possible we will always offer any single or twin / double rooms as available. Please note single rooms are very popular and sell out quickly. Private twin rooms will have two single beds / bunk and a double room will have a double bed.

    Early Bird: On some trips we offer discounted early bird tickets, these tickets are based in our standard shared rooms and include the same meals, walks etc as our standard tickets. You can view our full list of Early Bird Tickets here…

    Deposits: You can secure your place on this trip with a 50% deposit, the balance is due no less than 12 weeks before you travel. Failure to pay your balance on time could result in you losing your deposit and place on this trip. If the trip is within the next 12 weeks you will need to pay in full to secure your place.

Get Directions
Alston Youth Hostel
Firs Edge,
The Firs,
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What our members have to say...

  • 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. #toldallmyfriendstheyhavetocome
    Member Since 2018
  • 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!
    Member 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.
    Member Since 2016
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