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Wigwam Holidays Sandwath Farm is an ideal base for a range of adventurous days out in the local area — with two national parks to be found within an hour from our site, outdoorsy types will have their hands full! Don’t worry if you’re looking for a mellower adventure, as steam railways, vintage bus tours and roadside attractions might be right up your street.
Eating and drinking around Kirkby Stephen
Being a traditional market town and the largest settlement for some distance, Kirkby Stephen has no shortage of places to find a refreshing drink or satisfy the hunger that only a big day out can create.
The Black Bull Hotel is the kind of comfy village inn that would be conspicuous by its absence in a northern market town, where you can warm up and refuel after a day out in the hills. The Fat Lamb and Pennine Hotel also provide a cosy atmosphere alongside hearty traditional fare.
If you want to keep things simple then take Alfred Wainwright’s advice and visit his preferred chippy in town, the Coast to Coast. Meanwhile, The Mango Tree is the town’s first Indian restaurant, and has a reputation for serving up a mean curry! For something a little different, Augill Castle offers laid back hospitality, the ‘Great British Bar’ of British wines, beers and spirits, and locally sourced food prepared to high standards.
Charming cafés abound in town and the surrounding area: the Church Gallery, The Mulberry Bush and the White Hare Café can all be found in town, and the Bothy café is tucked inside the Mad About Mountains outdoor shop, so you can combine a sneaky coffee and cake with shopping for that new piece of gear.
Yorkshire Dales National Park
The Yorkshire Dales National park begins just metres from our site. Its 841 square miles encompass some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK, where historic and modern ways of life exist side by side, and life is still steeped in tradition and a slower pace of life from times gone by. In 2020 it was awarded ‘Dark Sky Reserve’ status, meaning that the lack of light pollution from street lights makes for fantastic stargazing conditions to match the limitless walking and cycling possibilities.
This is a land of deep, green valleys and dry stone walls, windswept moors and welcoming inns, where sheep farming has sustained generations of farmers and where tranquil meadows still sway with wildflowers in the summer, as they have done for centuries. Aysgarth Falls and Malham Cove are two popular spots to experience the magic of the Dales’ landscape, but you don’t have to go so far from the site to find your own corner of peace and quiet. Wild Boar Fell, at the head of the Eden Valley, offers a lofty perspective at over 700 metres high or, if you’re feeling really adventurous you can tackle the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge. However you plan to spend a day out here, it’s never hard to escape the crowds and feel yourself unwind.
Lake District National Park
Possibly our best-known national park, the Lake District National Park is under an hour’s drive away from Wigwam Holidays Sandwath Farm, allowing you to immerse yourself in the historic fells and ancient pathways of ‘Wordsworth country’ on any number of beautiful walks and cycle routes — preferably one that ends up at a cosy pub-like the George and Dragon Inn!
There is excellent walking on the high, quiet fells of the Eastern Lakes above Haweswater (halfway between our farm and Penrith), and the lower level paths of Ambleside and Loughrigg. For an alternative view of the landscape why not take a boat trip in Windermere? There are a variety of cruises available, or you can even get hands-on and go canoeing, kayaking, sailing or paddleboarding at Low Woods Bay.
Don’t be put off by a rainy day, as there’s still plenty to do. Wray Castle has a playground and café, while the huge castle building has been converted to provide hours of indoor play from dressing up to learning about castle life. The Lakes Aquarium is a great way to learn more about the wildlife of the Lake District, while for energetic young scramblers Keswick Climbing Wall offers instruction for indoor and outdoor climbing as well as archery.
Close to the site we’re lucky enough to have two places you can visit to satisfy nostalgia for railway travel from years gone by. Just two miles from our farm is Kirkby Stephen East, which originally opened as a railway station back in 1861. Nowadays it’s been restored to its former glory as a 1950’s country station and a small museum. On selected days steam train rides are available, and for the real rail afficionado there might even be the chance to drive one of the trains…
Just outside the town is Kirkby Stephen’s other station, this time on the famous Settle-Carlisle railway — yes, the one with the famous viaduct at Ribblehead! Steam trains are seen flying across the viaducts and through the valleys through the summer months, and a regular service is also available to take you north and south along the line. You can use the railway as a fantastic way to take in the panoramic scenery of the North Pennines before exploring the towns along the line, or use it to get to the start point of a lovely country walk.
Immersive walking routes
Kirkby Stephen is located on the route of Alfred Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast long-distance walking route, so if you’re planning on tackling the 180 miles from St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay you’ll find us the perfect place to stop over and rest weary legs before tackling the high moors of the Pennines.
A Pennine Journey is another long-distance walking route that passes through Kirkby Stephen as it travels north from Settle all the way to Hadrian’s Wall and then south again — 247 miles in total. The high, windswept moors are alive with birdlife and grazing lambs in the summer months, and offer peaceful solitude and space to unwind and think. After a long day on your feet, we’re happy to welcome weary walkers looking for a homely spot to call home for the night.
Not all walks have to be epic journeys though, and closer to the town is Kirkby Stephen’s very own poetry path. Twelve poems on the theme of ‘ a year in the life of a fellside farmer’ were composed by poet Meg Peacocke, and have since been transcribed onto stone by local letter cutter Pip Hall, to be encountered and savoured as you walk the route to Hartley and back. The Northern Viaducts Round also gives a chance to cross restored railway viaducts to get unique views of the surrounding countryside.
Outdoor activities for the family
There’s plenty to do for all the family in the local area too, starting with the myriad of local footpaths to explore for little feet on the fells and down beside the River Eden. Staying with the watery theme, why not visit Bessy Beck Trout Farm with hopes to land a few fish to provide some dinner with a difference?
If that’s all sounding like hot work, you might want to head straight to Brough Castle ice cream parlour, where you can take a break and cool off with everyone’s favourite summertime treat.
For a unique way to experience the historic lanes and bridleways of the Pennines, horse riding experiences are available in the area, or if you’re feeling at home on our working farm you could try visiting one of the local open farms to get stuck in.
Near to our site are several nature reserves, offering the chance to relax and soak in their peaceful surroundings. Smardale Gill contrasts a steep-sided, wooded valley with the panoramic views possible from the parapet of the viaduct above. In summer and early autumn it’s home to a stunning array of butterflies and birds, but at any time of the year it’s the sort of place where everyday worries and chores feel a million miles away.