Kirkby Stephen is a village in the Eden Valley, Cumbria, popular with walkers on the surrounding fells and on the route of the Coast to Coast walk from St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay devised by Alfred Wainwright in the early 1970s. It is now also home to the Around-England web sites. After several years in Appleby we have moved further upstream in the Eden Valley.

Kirkby Stephen - glimpse of parish church

The Eden is much younger here than at Appleby, a beautiful smaller stream that has just emerged from Mallerstang, passing Stenkrith Bridge as it approaches Kirkby. Close to the town centre is Frank’s Bridge. (As far as I’ve been able to discover no-one seems quite sure who Frank was). Here’s the river just a short way above Frank’s Bridge.

River Eden near Frank's Bridge Kirkby Stephen

It’s a great privilege to live anywhere in the Eden Valley, and now I can add the benefit of this view from my desk over the houses to Hartley Fell.

Kirkby Stephen

Turning slightly to the right and looking out of another pane of the window I can look over the rooftops and between the chimneys to Nine Standards Rigg.

Hartley Fell from Kirkby Stephen

You can’t see the Nine Standards? Well no, they’re too small, so here’s a blow-up of the same photo. Whether or not I actually see them from my desk depends on the light at the time.

Nine Standards Rigg from my desk in Kirkby Stephen

Kirkby Stephen is a marvellous place from which to walk into the surrounding countryside. There’s a great variety available and Ron Scholes has recently issued an update of his popular guide, Walking in Eden.

For more on the Eden Valley see my site It has been growing slowly since I started to build it around eighteen months ago and has reached a point where I’m now starting to acknowledge its existence.

I plan now to recommence regular postings on this site and on the other “Around-England” sites including Eden Valley Cumbria and also a newsy site about the North of England as a whole, Across The North. For more about the family of sites and plans for the future click here.


Wharfedale New Year

by David Murray on 8 August 2014

in Rivers, Valleys, Yorkshire Dales NP

Although published here in August this item was mostly written back in January. As it was sitting here almost finished I decided to publish it now to revive the Around England site in spite of the long delay.

Our New Year outing into Wharfedale actually started in Airedale. The previous day had been wet (an understatement!) but Thursday, 2nd January started out bright. Soon there was blue sky over Skipton although everything was still damp from days of rain.

Skipton town centre

After a short photographic walk around Skipton Castle (just about visible above to the right of the parish church) we headed in the car toward Grassington in the next river valley, Wharfedale.

Hebden Beck

As we drew nearer to our destination the skies became ever darker, and the rain started to fall. We decided to give Grassington a miss, a pity because it’s a pleasant place in the right kind of weather but this was not a day for boots and waterproofs but for a drive, with a leisurely stroll in the dry if feasible. We drove on to Hebden and turned right toward Burnsall. The photo here is of Hebden Beck, from the bridge by the crossroads.

This is a land of rivers and becks. Unlike the Lake District the Yorkshire Dales have almost no extensive bodies of water but streams, streams and more streams. Very much like the Lake District, however, they do have sheep, sheep and more sheep.

Sheep above Burnsall

And bridges … . This is the bridge at Burnsall, where we are now headed.

Bridge at Burnsall

The road from Hebden to Burnsall is narrow. Several times we had to go slowly by groups of hardy walkers as they clambered onto the green bank to let us pass. Then the road emerges onto the side of a hill from which (after stopping the car and hoping that another doesn’t arrive anytime soon) we can look down on the valley beneath, the River Wharfe wending its way down from Grassington.

Wharfedale above Burnsall


The above two shots were taken from roughly the same spot. Looking dowstream we see Burnsall, and lunch is in sight at the Red Lion, next to the bridge.

Red Lion Burnsall

It was time to leave. Burnley was calling, the East Lancashire town where we grew up and in which we were married almost fifty years ago. Not this time to visit Towneley Hall park but for afternoon tea with the one remaining family member we have in the town.

Burnsall in New Year sunshine

As we climbed the hill out of Burnsall the sun came through again. I pulled over onto the roadside, rushed out to catch the moment with my camera, and landed flat on my back against a slippery grass bank. Ouch!! But I did get the shot.


Personal Note:
Regular visitors will have noticed the lack of new articles recently. Shortly after this one was published I suffered the first of a series of mini-strokes. Although there is no permanent brain damage it became very apparent that I was seriously overworking. I’m planning to keep “Around-England” and other sites going but there will be a delay before more appears here while I do some reorganising of the workload.
- David Murray -
Returning August 2014

Burnley, in East Lancashire, was once famous not only for its football team (“Up the Clarets!”) but also, maybe primarily, for its cotton mills. Burnley and its immediate neighbours were chiefly weaving towns in contrast with spinning town elsewhere in Lancashire.

As a child I recall looking down onto the town from the surrounding hills and seeing nothing but “cotton wool” with dozens of black “pins” sticking upwards out of it. Such was the polluted air; the pins were the mill chimneys. Looking down from the moorland around Crown Point, Healey Heights or The Ridge on the other side of the town it was relatively rare to see much apart from this white cloud except in the second week of Burnley Fair in July when the mills had been shut for more than a week.

Now all has changed, and much of it for the better although in nostalgic moments I feel that I’d like to go again down to Plumbe Street and throw another bit of coke down at the boiler man to catch his attention then run away. (Yes, as kids we used to do that kind of thing! Now we’d probably get an Asbo.) But there are no boiler men on Plumbe Street today. No boiler, and no working mills; no cotton! It’s all changed.

On Queen Street (at the Harle Syke end of the town) though, there’s a working mill with its steam engine still functioning. It’s said to be the only one of its kind left in the world. Today I came across this video today. I hope you enjoy it.

By the way, there’s a museum at the mill. If you’re in the area make your way up to Harle Syke. Don’t miss this important slice of Lancashire history. The link above gives more details of opening hours but in the Summer months it’s open in the afternoons, Tuesday to Saturday.


Hearings on the proposed extensions of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks start today.

I wrote most of the following on my personal Facebook account earlier this morning and then thought I should put it here too, even though I’m aware that it might well lead to losing some friends.

I love both the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, and because of this I’m very doubtful about the wisdom of extending the two national parks.

To name but one issue, property prices will almost certainly rise significantly, both in the parks themselves and in the areas adjacent to their new boundaries, making it even more difficult for local young people to afford to live here. How many local shops and schools will close?

At the same time the proportion of homes bought up as holiday homes will increase. I’m not here talking about rental properties that are occupied for a significant part of the year. Managing and caring for these as part of the tourism sector does provide some local employment, although they can become a problem if they form too high a proportion of the local housing stock. I mean those owned by individual families and occupied for just a few weeks or even weekends each year and otherwise locked up unused for months on end

Then again, whilst planning regulations are important they can also be counterproductive when applied unintelligently. Local families and businesses will discover that changes to their properties will become considerably more expensive. Projects that would have been feasible, and with zero or negligible environmental impact, will either be abandoned or made marginally viable due to overweening bureaucracy, elevated and expensive construction standards, delay and cost. This is not theory; this is the past experience of so many.

Until the legal terms of reference of national parks are updated to take far greater account of the economic prosperity and social wellbeing of local communities I am opposed to the extension.

Both park authorities do, of course, make some effort in this direction. Under their present constitutions, however, it seems to me that there will always be the danger of bias towards fundamentalist and anti-human environmentalism. Emotionally driven populist campaigns will frequently prevail unless there is a stronger legally backed obligation on the park authorities to give greater weight to the prospering of local people. Agendas aimed at turning these beautiful regions back to some imagined, romantic ecological and landscape utopia are dangerous. Local people are part of the landscape, not a dangerous “invasive species” as so often they appear to be viewed.

National Parks do some great work, both the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales need protection, but the balance needs to be changed.


Terrible Things Happen In Beautiful Places

May 25, 2013

Starting a short walk by Goldrill Beck and Brothers’ Water this afternoon I was stopped in my tracks by this poster. What was such a gruesome image doing in such a beautiful place? The National Trust appears to have concluded that shock tactics are necessary. Far too many sheep and lambs are attacked by dogs […]

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Hellgill Force near the source of the Eden

May 14, 2013

Today I did another of my photo-drive-walks, returning to Mallerstang for the second week in succession. Last week I did a circular walk between Nateby and Pendragon Castle, taking in Lammerside Castle, so today after a few shots of Pendragon Castle (over the wall; it’s now “closed to public access for building repairs”) I started […]

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Beautiful Mallerstang, and Disgusting Litter Louts

May 8, 2013

Yesterday was a beautiful early Spring day in Mallerstang. Yes, I know that in many parts of the country Spring is already well and truly sprung but up here in the North, in a valley whose lowest points are around 1000 feet above sea level, Spring is still on its way in. The photo here […]

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Appleby in Westmorland – An April Afternoon

April 22, 2013

After spending Saturday morning listening to lectures on bridges at a Cumbria Industrial History Society conference I suppose it is appropriate to show a photo from Saturday afternoon of the Appleby “New” Bridge over the River Eden – that is, it was new in 1888. The next shot is taken from the bridge looking dowstream. […]

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Tuxford Mill, Nottinghamshire

April 21, 2013

Last week as I was driving through Tuxford in Nottinghamshire I couldn’t resist stopping to take a photograph of the old windmill. Its sails were turning just as they must have done a century and more ago. A splendid sight. A few days earlier I’d been looking at watermills in Cambridgeshire. Milling appears to have […]

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Anglesey Abbey Gardens – The Winter Walk

April 19, 2013

Anglesey Abbey, a National Trust property near Cambridge, although in parts almost nine hundred years old is in its present form the creation of its more recent owners from the sixteenth century onwards, culminating in the work of the 1st Lord Fairhaven (1896-1966) a grandson of one of the founders of what is now the […]

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