Exploring the Historic Charm of Alston’s Cottages

by | Alston Cottages, Cottages in Alston, History, History of Alston Moor, Visit Alston

Nestled high in the North Pennines National Landscape, Alston Moor is a captivating area known for its rugged beauty and rich history. Historic Alston’s cottages offer a glimpse into a bygone era, showcasing the enduring traditions and unique architectural styles of this remote part of Cumberland.

A Journey Through the History of Alston’s Cottages

Blagill Farm House, a historic bastle house among Alston cottages in Alston Moor.

Blagill Farm House – A bastle house exemplifying the fortified farmhouses among Alston’s cottages in Alston Moor.

Alston Moor, with its dramatic landscapes and picturesque settlements, is steeped in history. The area’s cottages are a testament to this rich past, reflecting centuries of habitation and architectural evolution. The local stone-built cottages, many dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, embody the resilience and resourcefulness of the people who have lived here.

One of the most distinctive features of Alston Moor’s architecture is the bastle house. These fortified farmhouses were built during the turbulent times of border reivers—raiders along the Anglo-Scottish border. Designed for defence, bastles typically have thick stone walls and first-floor living quarters, which were accessed by external staircases. This design not only protected inhabitants from raids but also utilised the warmth generated by housing livestock on the ground floor.

Notable Historic Alston’s Cottages

Bayles High Fell Farm Cottage, a charming example of Alston cottages in Alston Moor.

Bayles High Fell Farm Cottage – Nestled in the stunning landscapes, this is one of the picturesque Alston’s cottages in Alston Moor.

Several notable Alston’s cottages on Alston Moor capture the essence of this historic landscape:

  1. High Lovelady Shield: This 17th-century bastle, though now in disrepair, remains a significant example of the region’s defensive architecture. Its robust construction and historical importance make it a fascinating subject for those interested in the area’s heritage.
  2. Townhead Farmhouse: Located in the heart of Alston, this farmhouse is an urban iteration of the bastle tradition. The ground floor, historically used for various purposes such as workshops or additional accommodation, and the separate entrance to the living quarters above, reflect the practical and adaptable nature of these buildings.
  3. Garrigill Cottages: In the village of Garrigill, several well-preserved Alston’s cottages provide insights into the domestic lives of Alston Moor’s past inhabitants. These cottages, with their traditional features and scenic surroundings, are integral to the area’s charm.

The Landscape and Its Influence on Alston’s Cottages

Old Brewery Cottages, a historic group of Alston cottages in Alston Moor.

Old Brewery Cottages – A charming and historic group of Alston’s cottages, showcasing traditional architecture in Alston Moor.

The North Pennines, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has significantly influenced the architecture of Alston Moor. The harsh climate and remote location necessitated the use of local materials and practical designs. Thick stone walls, slate roofs, and small windows are common features of Alston’s cottages, all aimed at withstanding the area’s severe weather conditions.

The landscape also offered economic opportunities, notably lead mining, which peaked in the 19th century. This boom period saw a surge in the local population and the construction of many buildings that still stand today. The remnants of this industry, along with the Alston’s cottages, form a vital part of Alston Moor’s historical narrative.

Modern Day Alston and Salvin House

Panoramic view from Salvin House, one of the premier Alston cottages in Alston Moor.

View from Salvin House – Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Alston Moor from one of the finest Alston’s cottages.

Today, Alston Moor continues to attract visitors with its historical allure and stunning scenery. Walking through the cobbled streets of Alston, visitors can explore numerous historic buildings, including shops, cafes, and, of course, the iconic Alston’s cottages.

For those looking to stay and fully immerse themselves in the history and beauty of Alston Moor, Salvin House stands out as a premier accommodation choice. This meticulously preserved historic cottage combines the charm of traditional architecture with modern comforts, making it an ideal base for exploring the area’s rich heritage and natural wonders.

The Finest Alston Cottages

Randalholme Hall, an architectural gem among Alston cottages in Alston Moor.

Randalholme Hall – A historic architectural gem, one of the distinguished Alston’s cottages in the heart of Alston Moor.

Alston Moor’s historic cottages are more than just buildings; they are stories carved in stone, telling tales of a resilient and resourceful community. From the fortified bastles to the charming farmhouses, each of these Alston’s cottages is a window into the past, offering a unique perspective on the region’s history and culture. When visiting, staying at Salvin House provides the perfect blend of historical ambiance and contemporary luxury, ensuring a memorable and enriching experience.

By appreciating and preserving these historic Alston’s cottages, we can ensure that future generations will continue to learn from and enjoy the unique charm and rich history of Alston Moor.



Rob Lawson is a property investor and communications consultant who grew up in the South Tyne Valley. With a deep passion for historical preservation, he fell in love with Salvin House and committed to restoring it to its former glory. With a vision that blends respect for its heritage and modern comforts, Rob has revived this historic gem for future generations to appreciate.


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