Located at the centre of the North Pennines AONB, Alston Moor covers 50 square miles of superb countryside surrounded by beautiful, dramatic fells and sculpted by sweeping river valleys. The small town of Alston nestles in this setting at the crossroads of five historic trans Pennine routes all of which pass through breathtaking scenery rich in heritage. The villages of Garrigill and Nenthead complete the community that is Alston Moor and here you will
find a warm welcome and a quality of life that will stay in your memory until you return.
If you are travelling from the Lake District, or M6, Alston is just off the A686 cross Pennine route which quietly meanders from the Cumbria lakeland town of Penrith across spectacular moors and into Northumberland. For its size (approximately 2,000 inhabitants) Alston has superb facilities for life and recreation – most modern and traditional shops and businesses exist, often housed in beautiful, historic architecture.
Alston Moor is a landscape of living history. In the 18th & 19th centuries the North Pennines was a world centre for lead mining with a varying population of 4,000 to 7,000 depending on mining activity. The raw profile of the hills has been shaped by past toil in the quest for lead, zinc, iron and silver. Limestone quarrying was a local industry linked with distribution by the railway in the 19th and 20th centuries and sandstone is still quarried today. During WWII munitions and wartime manufacturing took place with the foundry only closing in 1989 whilst precision metal castings continues. The town of Alston, evocative of past times with its steep cobbled streets, stone buildings, traditional shop fronts and market cross has changed little in over 300 years and has been used as a film & tv location.
Escape the pace of modern life and step back in time to a land traversed by Romans 2000 years ago. Walk to Whitley Castle (known to the Romans as Epiacum Fort) ‘one of the best preserved Roman forts in the UK’* on the Roman Maiden Way or visit the lead mining and heritage centres in Nenthead and Killhope. Take a ride on a restored steam or diesel train along England’s highest narrow gauge track – South Tynedale Railway – and discover its part in our history. Close by you will find our local heritage & transport museum, The Hub, filled with information, photography and fascinating historic ephemera. Within a short drive of Alston Moor you will reach Hadrian’s Wall to the north or follow an ancient and spectacular byway across the Pennines via the panoramic viewpoint at Hartside Top to Eden Valley and the Lake District beyond. Alternatively enjoy relaxing in our historic surroundings and stroll around Garrigill, Nenthead or Alston centre using one of our heritage walk leaflets**.
*Stewart Ainsworth – Time Team presenter and Senior Investigator, English Heritage
**These leaflets and a wealth of information available from Alston Local Links Tourist Information Centre at the Town Hall on Front Street, Alston.