My Dad bought a little static caravan a few years ago and it is based on a farm in Appleby-in-Westmoreland, so I have spent a considerable amount of time in the area. Appleby's main appeal to me is that unlike other towns in the area, it is not swamped by tourism (aside from Horse Fair weekend - read on). It's castle and keep are beautiful and almost medieval, although they are not currently open they can be viewed and appreciated from outside. The town is situated near river Eden and is overlooked by the Pennine range with the Lake District Fells just a few miles away. It has retained its old world charm and is simply not modernised. Its little Tea Shoppes and quaint Cafés make this one of my favourite hidden gems in the UK...
The town is accessed from the A66 which joins Scotch Corner with the M6. After taking the turn off for Appleby / Orton, you are less than 5 minutes drive from the town centre. In my opinion it is the gateway to the Lake District and a great base to explore Windermere, Kendal, Ambleside and Grasmere some of the most popular and large lakes. However, it's convenient and close location to the Lakes shouldn't distract you from exploring the town as there is lots to see and do there.
Along with Pubs, Restaurants, Cafés and B+Bs, there is also a leisure centre / 30 station gym / 25m swimming pool, a large golf course, cricket pitches and a bowling green. There are many small shops and a market too. Considering this is such a small market town, there is everything you could need, including a chemist, a train station, a health centre and a hospital. There isn't a large supermarket such as Tesco, Morrisons, etc, but there is an ample sized Co-Op serving the area.
There are two butchers selling home reared meat and home made sausages / burgers, there are also two fishmongers who come to the area on Tuesdays and Saturdays. There is a greengrocer selling local fruit and veg , dairy produce, cooking oils, honey, herbs, spices, olives etc. Along with the Co-Op the town has a Spar shop and both sell papers, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. There is a post office and several banks / building societies. There is a divine delicatessen serving all kinds of foods which is definitely worth a visit, a bakery, gift shops and an ironmongers! There are also clothing, furniture, book and second hand / charity shops. There is a mini market in the town hall on a Friday and an Outdoor market in the Market Square on a Saturday - the sweet stall is not to be missed! The Parish Church is St Lawrence and Reverend Clegg can be contacted on 01768351461 to arrange a visit, the Church is open from 10am until 'dusk' each day and visitors are welcome - except obviously during services, there is also a catholic church too, Our Lady of Appleby, contact Father Chappell on 01768351474
Things to do:
There are so many things to do and see in the area, but first I will concentrate on Appleby itself. The River Eden is rich with Wild Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout, so Angling is a must here. Past times such as Bird Watching, Photography, Walking and Cycling are made easy here on the beautiful mountainous backdrop and amazing skyline. Apparently some rare species of birds can be seen in the area. There are a whopping 71 cycle routes to choose from and plenty of recommended and guided walks available from tourist information. Appleby hosts an annual Music Festival and Heritage Weekend usually in September. It showcases little known international musicians supported by the talents of the local school children. There are exhibitions and Appleby's Ancient Buildings are open to the public; and there are plenty of street buskers / entertainers to watch and applaud! Tickets for the event are available from tourist information. Appleby is big on it's music, there are also two separate festivals - a Jazz and a Blues. Details change year to year, but again, concrete dates and times available from tourist information. Appleby has it's own Archaeology group and you can join as a member, you receive newsletters and can join the winter lecture programme and summer events, including walks and excursions, it's around £8 per annum to join for an individual and you can apply to join / contact them here: www.applebyarchaeology.org.uk. Take a trip on the Settle - Carlisle Railway. Its one of England's most scenic Railway journeys and has been going for 125 years. Appleby's station is on route, and if you take the train past Ribblehead (5 stops from Appleby) you will pass over the Ribblehead Viaduct which is the most famous and well photographed point on the line. Standing 105ft above Batty Moss, it has 24 arches, and has been completely renovated
Places to Eat (Recommended):
I definitely recommend Desi Spice Indian, though reservations normally required or Appleby Manor, which is an AA rosette awarded a la carte restaurant, situated in a country house hotel (beautiful romantic scenery from the conservatory). Bay Tree is situated on the bridge and a tiny terrace open for 2 diners at a time (so very romantic) overlooks the river.
There are loads of other places to eat, but these are the only places I have been. You can again check out the tourist information centre for more places or just have a little explore!
Every year in Appleby there is a Horse Fair (possibly for which it is most known), which is an annual gathering of Gypsies and Travellers in the town. The 2010 fair takes place 03/06/10 - 09/06/10. The fair is totally unique in Europe and attracts around 10,000 Gypsies and Travellers along with 30,000 other visitors. As Appleby normally has a population of 2,500 it completely swamps the town and there is no doubt about it, the quaint market town transforms! (as does the traffic on the A66)... Effectively the fair is just a meeting to exchange / trade horses. However, the public come in their droves just to experience the meet. All that happens is after setting up camp on the first day, the participants wash and display their horses for trade or purchase. Safety is key, there are horses, caravans, trailers, etc all over; you are not advised to approach a horse without asking the owner first and being supervised as they can kick or bite. There are loads of videos on You Tube of the fair, if you want to know what its like, but this is no fairground, and it can be quite rough - however, it is a great experience to have, there's so much to see - and the horses are absolutely beautiful.
In the Area:
It is just 40 miles to Lake Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere and 30 miles to Kendal (Mint Cake and Clarks Shoes Factory Outlet - fab). Lake Windermere is my favourite, despite it being packed in the summer with tourists, you must check it out. You can participate in water sports, pony trekking, eat in pretty boutique restaurants and cafés and you can picnic on the banks of the most breathtaking lake of them all. I adore it. There is a lake cruise which costs about £5 and you get about 45 minutes on the water - it's a guided tour and well worth the money you see all sorts and find out all the facts and figures about the lake. Hire a rowing boat for a romantic trip to the middle of the lake on your own. Another one of my favs is the Chocolate shop in Orton. It sells the nicest poshest chocs ever and they are a fraction of the cost of Hotel Chocolat / Thorntons and much nicer. You can see through to the kitchens and watch them making the goods too which is lovely. Don't confuse this with the Chocolate House at Kendal, which is also a must, but only for the café, the shop is ok, but nothing special, however the café sells hot chocolates in every flavour imaginable, I had Rose flavour with some tiny sandwiches cut in to triangles. There is also a chocolate museum here, but beware, the disabled access is pretty limited and lots of steps to climb. Broughm Castle is close by and is absolutely stunning - it is a National Heritage site, so consider visiting their website for deals and entry prices (along with opening times). The picnic area over looks a small stream and it is literally idyllic, like something you would see on a painting. Infact, go all out, take some paints with you and have a go at capturing your time there with an alternative to photographs. Finally my other favourite place to go is the Wetheriggs Animal Rescue / Craft Centre. Its located just where the M6 joins the A66. It has baby goats and lambs which you can feed in season, rescue horses, birds and other wildlife. It is very hands on, you can pet the animals and get up close. It costs £4 for an adult. There is a café there which does beautiful Lattes and there is a gift shop and crafting centre where your children can participate in organised pot painting (the site used to be a working pottery - original machinery from which is still on display) and you can purchase gifts made by Artisans and Crafters in the Art Studio there. Allow a good few hours for your visit, there's so much to see and do. I cant really do the whole of the Lakes and the places in the area justice here, but the internet has a whole treasure chest of information for you to plan your visit.
Tourist Information Contact Details:
Appleby Tourist Information Centre, Moot Hall, Boroughgate, Appleby, Cumbria CA16 6XE, Tel: 017683 51177 Open every day through Spring to late Autumn and mornings plus 10am to 3pm Fri & Sat during Winter (not Sundays)