Discover the 9 best things to do in and around Alston, a historic town set 1,000 feet above sea level, known for its cobbled streets, rich history, and stunning views of the North Pennines National Landscape. Whether you’re an adventurer, history enthusiast, or nature lover, Alston has something for everyone.

1. Ride the South Tynedale Railway

South Tynedale Railway steam train traveling through the North Pennines - Best Things to Do in Alston.

Riding the South Tynedale Railway is one of the best things to do in and around Alston, offering breathtaking views of the North Pennines.

Riding the South Tynedale Railway is a must when exploring Alston. As England’s highest narrow-gauge railway, it offers a unique perspective of the Northern English landscape. The railway line runs for nearly five miles through the Tyne Valley, providing breathtaking views of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This historic railway, lovingly restored by volunteers, features preserved steam and diesel locomotives. Perfect for families, the South Tynedale Railway is accessible on all trains and welcomes dogs, making it a fun and inclusive experience for everyone.

  • Historic Journey: Travel through picturesque Northern English landscapes on this historic railway.
  • Family-Friendly: Perfect for families with accessibility on all trains and a welcoming atmosphere.
  • Dog-Friendly: Enjoy a day out with your furry friends, as the railway is very accommodating to pets.

2. Explore The Hub Heritage and Transport Museum

 Classic cars and motorbikes on display at The Hub Heritage and Transport Museum - Best Things to Do in Alston.

Exploring The Hub Heritage and Transport Museum is among the best things to do in and around Alston, showcasing over 1,000 historical artefacts.

The Hub Heritage and Transport Museum is a treasure trove for transport enthusiasts and history buffs alike. This quirky little museum is packed with over 1,000 historical artefacts, including classic vehicles like old cars, motorbikes, and bicycles. In addition to the impressive collection of vehicles, the museum also showcases memorabilia such as train sets and road signs, offering a nostalgic trip through transport history. The museum provides a fascinating snapshot of Alston’s social history through its extensive collection of old photographs and stories from local residents. Interactive exhibits ensure an engaging experience for visitors of all ages, making it a delightful destination for families and solo travellers alike.

  • Extensive Collection: Features over 1,000 historical artefacts, including classic vehicles and memorabilia.
  • Local History: Provides a fascinating insight into Alston’s past through photographs and stories from residents.
  • Interactive Exhibits: Engage with hands-on exhibits, making it an enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages.

3. Visit Ashgill Force

The 17-metre high Ashgill Force waterfall surrounded by lush greenery - Best Things to Do in Alston.

Visiting Ashgill Force is one of the best things to do in and around Alston, featuring a stunning 17-metre high waterfall.

Ashgill Force, just four miles from Alston, is a spectacular 17-metre high waterfall that offers a breathtaking natural experience. Accessible via a short, scenic footpath from Ashgill Bridge, the walk to Ashgill Force features smaller waterfalls and a woodland gorge, making the journey as enjoyable as the destination. The waterfall is a marvel of geology, with waters thrashing against boulders of sandstone and limestone. On calmer days, visitors can capture stunning photos by standing behind the flowing water, making it a popular spot for photography and wild swimming enthusiasts.

  • Natural Beauty: Marvel at the impressive 17-metre high waterfall and its surrounding woodland gorge.
  • Scenic Footpath: Accessed via a short, picturesque walk from Ashgill Bridge, perfect for nature lovers.
  • Photography Opportunities: Capture stunning photos, especially on calm days when you can stand behind the flowing water.

4. Discover Epiacum Roman Fort

The remains of Epiacum Roman Fort with the North Pennines in the background - Best Things to Do in Alston.

Discovering Epiacum Roman Fort is one of the best things to do in and around Alston, offering historical insight and spectacular views.

Epiacum Roman Fort offers a fascinating glimpse into the past, known for its unique lozenge shape and historical significance. Built in the 2nd century to protect local lead-mining operations and support Hadrian’s Wall, the fort provides educational information panels and a Family Clue Trail that makes learning about history interactive and fun. The climb to the top of the fort is steep, but the effort is rewarded with spectacular views of the North Pennines and the chance to spot local wildlife such as hares, curlews, and skylarks. After exploring, visitors can enjoy local produce at the nearby farm shop and café.

  • Historical Insight: Learn about the Roman fort built to protect local lead-mining practices.
  • Educational Panels: Discover educational information panels and a Family Clue Trail for an interactive visit.
  • Stunning Views: Enjoy spectacular views of the North Pennines from the top of the fort.

5. Stroll Around Cow Green Reservoir

Cow Green Reservoir surrounded by the North Pennines landscape - Best Things to Do in Alston.

Strolling around Cow Green Reservoir is one of the best things to do in and around Alston, perfect for nature lovers and walkers.

Cow Green Reservoir, located in the heart of the North Pennines, is a haven for nature enthusiasts and walkers. This two-mile-long reservoir was built to meet the needs of Teesside’s growing industries and is now known for its rich habitat of flora and fauna. The area offers rugged walks enveloped by wild moorland and dramatic views of the North Pennines, making it a perfect destination for those seeking natural beauty and tranquility. The reservoir is also home to rare geological formations like Whin Sill and sugar limestone, adding an extra layer of interest to your visit.

  • Rich Habitat: Home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, perfect for nature lovers.
  • Dramatic Views: Enjoy rugged walks with stunning views of the North Pennines.
  • Geological Interest: Explore rare rock formations such as Whin Sill and sugar limestone.

6. Tour Nenthead Mines

Entrance to Nenthead Mines with historical buildings in the background - Best Things to Do in Alston.

Touring Nenthead Mines is one of the best things to do in and around Alston, providing an intriguing look into the area’s mining heritage.

Nenthead Mines offers an intriguing journey into Alston’s mining heritage with guided tours and historical exhibits. Located in the nearby village of Nenthead, this famous geological site showcases the history of the lead and zinc mining industry in the North Pennines. Visitors can don a helmet and lamp before heading underground to explore the site through a network of paths and trackways. The conserved buildings on the site include a small museum and interpretation display, providing a deeper understanding of the mining history. The tour is rounded off with tea and homemade cake, making it a delightful and educational experience.

  • Guided Tours: Explore the history of lead and zinc mining with knowledgeable guides.
  • Interactive Experience: Don your helmet and lamp to venture underground through a network of paths.
  • Cultural Insight: Visit the small museum and interpretation display for a deeper understanding of the site’s history.

7. Admire St Augustine of Canterbury Church

St Augustine of Canterbury Church with its notable spire and stained-glass windows - Best Things to Do in Alston.

Admiring St Augustine of Canterbury Church is one of the best things to do in and around Alston, featuring stunning architecture and historical significance.

St Augustine’s Church, known as ‘The Cathedral of the North Pennines,’ is a beautiful Grade II listed building that offers both historical and architectural interest. Built in 1869, the church features stunning stained-glass windows, marble columns, and a notable 16th-century clock named the Derwentwater Clock. Thought to have been the site of a church since 1145 AD, St Augustine’s is the first church of Alston Moor, providing a serene and contemplative space for visitors. The lofty spire offers picturesque views over the town, making it a perfect spot for reflection and photography.

  • Architectural Beauty: Features stunning stained-glass windows, marble columns, and a notable 16th-century clock.
  • Historical Significance: Thought to have been the site of a church since 1145 AD.
  • Scenic Views: The lofty spire offers picturesque views over the town, ideal for photography.

8. Shop Around Alston

Charming cobbled street in Alston with stone cottage shops - Best Things to Do in Alston.

Shopping around Alston is one of the best things to do in and around Alston, with its eclectic range of unique and local products.

Alston’s charming cobbled streets are home to an eclectic range of shops that offer a delightful shopping experience. Retaining its character as an old market town, Alston boasts traditional stone cottage shops that sell a variety of unique and local products. Market Cross is known for its quirky and unusual gifts, while Alston Wholefoods offers local delicacies like Cumberland Honey Mustard and Mr Vikki’s chutneys. The Cane Workshop features two floors of locally-made furniture and crafts, making it a must-visit for those looking for handmade and bespoke items.

  • Eclectic Shops: Explore a range of unique and local products in charming stone cottage shops.
  • Local Delicacies: Find local specialties like Cumberland Honey Mustard and Mr Vikki’s chutneys at Alston Wholefoods.
  • Handmade Crafts: Visit The Cane Workshop for locally-made furniture and crafts.

9. Enjoy Local Cuisine

Exterior of Alston House Hotel with its welcoming entrance and beautiful surroundings - Best Things to Do in Alston.

Enjoying food and drink at Alston House Hotel is one of the best things to do in and around Alston, offering delicious local cuisine in a charming and inviting setting.

No visit to Alston is complete without sampling the local cuisine. The town offers a variety of dining options, from cozy cafes to traditional pubs, where you can enjoy hearty meals made with local ingredients. Treat yourself to local specialties such as Cumberland sausage, homemade pies, and freshly baked scones. The warm hospitality and charming ambiance of Alston’s eateries make dining here a memorable experience.

  • Variety of Dining Options: Enjoy cozy cafes and traditional pubs offering hearty meals.
  • Local Specialties: Sample local dishes like Cumberland sausage and homemade pies.
  • Warm Hospitality: Experience the welcoming atmosphere and charming ambiance of Alston’s eateries.

Best Things to do in and around Alston

Alston is a hidden gem offering a variety of activities that cater to all interests. Whether you’re exploring the historic South Tynedale Railway, delving into the past at the Hub Heritage and Transport Museum, or enjoying local cuisine at Alston House Hotel, there are countless best things to do in and around Alston. Plan your visit to this charming town and experience its unique blend of history, nature, and hospitality.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the must-visit attractions for things to do in and around Alston?

Some of the top attractions for things to do in and around Alston include the South Tynedale Railway, The Hub Heritage and Transport Museum, Ashgill Force, and Epiacum Roman Fort.

Is the South Tynedale Railway suitable for families looking for things to do in and around Alston?

Yes, the South Tynedale Railway is perfect for families looking for things to do in and around Alston, offering accessible trains and a welcoming atmosphere for all, including pets.

What can I expect to see at The Hub Heritage and Transport Museum when exploring things to do in and around Alston?

The Hub Heritage and Transport Museum showcases over 1,000 historical artefacts, including classic vehicles, train sets, and road signs, making it a great stop for things to do in and around Alston.

How do I get to Ashgill Force when looking for things to do in and around Alston, and what should I bring?

Ashgill Force is accessible via a short, scenic footpath from Ashgill Bridge. It’s advisable to wear sturdy shoes and bring a camera for capturing stunning photos when exploring things to do in and around Alston.

What historical insights can I gain from visiting Epiacum Roman Fort?

Epiacum Roman Fort offers educational panels and a Family Clue Trail that provide fascinating insights into Roman history and local lead-mining operations, perfect for things to do in and around Alston.

Are there any walking trails around Cow Green Reservoir for those seeking things to do in and around Alston?

Yes, Cow Green Reservoir offers rugged walks surrounded by wild moorland and dramatic views, making it an excellent choice for things to do in and around Alston.

Can I take a guided tour of the Nenthead Mines when looking for things to do in and around Alston?

Yes, guided tours are available at Nenthead Mines, where visitors can explore the underground network of paths and learn about the area’s mining heritage, adding to the list of things to do in and around Alston.

What makes St Augustine of Canterbury Church unique for things to do in and around Alston?

St Augustine’s Church is known for its stunning architecture, including stained-glass windows, marble columns, and a 16th-century clock. It also offers picturesque views over the town, making it a notable site for things to do in and around Alston.

What shopping experiences are available when exploring things to do in and around Alston?

Shopping in Alston features charming cobbled streets with stone cottage shops selling unique and local products, such as Market Cross for quirky gifts and Alston Wholefoods for local delicacies, adding to the list of things to do in and around Alston.

Where can I enjoy local cuisine as part of things to do in and around Alston?

In and around Alston, you can enjoy a variety of dining options, including cozy cafes and traditional pubs, where you can sample local specialties like Cumberland sausage and homemade pies, making dining one of the enjoyable things to do in and around Alston.

Rob

Rob

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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