The Eden area is an ideal base for touring offering easy access to Hadrian's Wall and the Scottish Borders, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, as SANDY KITCHING discovers.


Known as the ‘Old Red Town’ because of its many red sandstone buildings, Penrith is one of the largest centres in the area. It’s steeped in a rich cultural history, with streets dating back to the 13th Century. This busy market town boasts an array of specialist shops, which sell everything from antiques to horse riding accessories, as well as offering a plethora of delicatessens, cosy cafes, upmarket restaurants and traditional country pubs.

Nearby Brougham Castle lies in a picturesque setting beside the river Eamont. This English Heritage property was founded in the early 13th century and today the ruins including a complex of passageways and spiral stairways make it a fascinating place for families to explore (


The home of Lord and Lady Inglewood, Hutton-in-the-Forest offers a rich variety of architecture, furnishings and a beautiful rose garden. There are outdoor events throughout the year including the Plant and Food Fair, Potfest in the Park and Horse Trials (


Secluded and unspoiled, the Eden Valley is perfect for gentle walking, exploring and generally blowing away the cobwebs. The river Eden, which has its source in the Mallerstang Valley, is one of the finest salmon and trout rivers in the north of England, weaving its way through attractive sandstone villages that are rooted in Viking and Roman history. Take a hike across the curved Howgills to the south that sit in the landscape like great sleeping dinosaurs (


Having remained dormant for nearly a century, the 130 acres of gardens and grounds at Lowther Castle are open to the public to enjoy once more. Wander through the woodland, with an occasional view of red squirrels, rabbits and badgers and a wonderful array of birds - including a heronry perched high above the Iris gardens.

The Castle itself remains mostly as a ruin, but the stables and yard have been transformed into a delightful cafe and shop with a large area that’s perfect for al fresco dining (

Plant lovers enjoy a visit to Larch Cottage Nurseries at Melkinthorpe, which has an incredibly large and diverse range of plants and shrubs, mostly grown on land at the nursery. Head to the nearby Abbott Lodge working dairy farm and sample one or two of the 40 flavours of high quality homemade Jersey ice cream and meet the cows and calves (


The ancient traditional market town of Kirkby Stephen is surrounded by a landscape of pastoral rural scenery and wild uplands that offer breath-taking views in every direction (

For the serious walker there is the Pennine Way, which passes through the town, or the Coast to Coast walk. On a clear day there are magnificent views across Mallerstang and Wild Boar Fell, the Howgills and the distant Lakeland Fells (


Food lovers can find much to whet their appetite at the popular Orton Farmers’ Market which is held on the second Saturday of every month. It features more than 40 local farmers, growers, producers and artisan craftsmen offering a wide variety of quality and speciality local produce and crafts (


Sedbergh is a book collector's paradise, a treasure chest of hard-to-find second hand and rare antiquarian books. Lying at the foot of the Howgills, Sedbergh became England's first 'Book Town' in 2003.

To see beautiful contemporary craft being made in a historic building visit Farfield Mill and Heritage Centre nearby. It's a lively place with its working looms, exhibitions, demonstrations and workshop. The large craft shop has a reputation for selling a variety of high quality items by resident and visiting artists (

The Upper Eden area is also outstanding riding country with a good network of bridleways. Stonetrail Horse Riding offers exclusive horse riding ranging from 1 hour to a full day. Situated at Ravenstonedale, midway between Sedbergh and Kirkby Stephen, they offer easy treks for competent beginners and stunning trail rides for the more experienced rider (


This truly traditional Dales village retains tiny cobbled alleyways and whitewashed cottages, some dating back to the 15th century. Set in a prime conservation area, Dent is a lovely place to stay and unwind before heading out to tackle one of the three peaks. You can take lunch or refreshments in one of the pubs that serve local craft ales, before pottering around the 12th century St Andrew’s Church or go for a spot of quiet contemplation at Dent’s Meditation Centre.


Many visitors choose to travel by train on the Settle-Carlisle railway and relax as breath-taking scenery drifts by. Arriving at Appleby you will discover a market town brimming with charm and character. In days gone by High Cross was the original cheese market, livestock was sold in the Shambles, and bulls were baited by dogs before slaughter. The tradition of cheese making in the area continues at Appleby Creamery with its delicious Organic Brie and Eden Sunset. Appleby Castle is undergoing restoration and there are plans in the near future for the castle to be open to the public and for concerts and events in the grounds (

The river Eden flows through Appleby and becomes a centre for travellers to wash their horses during the annual June Appleby Horse Fair.