The River Eden has its source in the Pennines as Hell Gill above Mallerstang Common, near the North Yorkshire border. It flows northwards, gradually descending until it passes the market town of Kirkby Stephen, where the surrounding countryside is perfect for walking and cycling. Six long distance walks & cycleways pass through the town, including Wainwright's famous 'Coast to Coast' walk.
Travelling north, the Eden Valley is broad and the hills flanking it are generally low, giving a sense of wide open spaces. The countryside is predominantly farmland, with open fields edged by hedgerows and drystone walls. This is all excellent walking country with many paths to choose from.
The next market town on the river is Appleby-in-Westmorland. Here, the tree lined main street links the Castle with the Church, making it one of the prettiest towns in the valley. Appleby Castle was founded in 1100 by Ranulf le Meschin, who may have founded the town at the same time.
Every June the Appleby Horse Fair gathers together travelling folk from all over the country, buying and selling horses, keeping alive a 300 year old tradition. This is Britain's largest gypsy gathering, with hundreds of tradition horse-drawn caravans converge on nearby Gallows Hill.
The Pennine Way National Trail reaches into the Eden Valley at Appleby-in-Westmorland as it wends its way towards Scotland.
Historic Penrith, often referred to as the "Gateway to the Northern Lakes", is the major town in the Eden Valley, with a good mix of traditional shops selling locally made products and crafts, including famed Cumberland Sausage and Penrith Toffee.
The River Eden meanders North through picturesque villages of red sandstone, such as Langwathby, Lazonby and Armathwaite, eventually reaching the historic Border City of Carlisle with its award winning museum, castle, cathedral and extensive shopping centre. The river enters the Solway Firth near the mouth of the River Esk after a total distance of 90 miles (145 km).
Cross Fell is the Highest Part of the Pennine chain and dominates the Eden skyline. This wonderful area is aptly named "England's Last Wilderness". Alston, the highest market town in England, has steep cobbled streets, a market cross, ancient yards and old stone houses. Alston Moor's links with its prosperous lead mining past are portrayed at Nenthead Lead Mining Centre.
In medieval times the valley was vulnerable to Scottish raids, and there are a number of pele towers and castles in the area, testament to a turbulent and often violent past.
The Northern Lakes at the edge of the Vale of Eden, Ullswater and Haweswater, are said to be unrivalled for scenery, the mountain grandeur mirrored in the lakes. The Ullswater Steamers cruise nine miles from the gently rolling fells at Pooley Bridge to Glenridding, overlooked by the majestic slopes of Helvellyn. Travel along the shore of Haweswater to the rugged fells of Mardale Head, the only site in England where Golden Eagles nest.
The famous Settle to Carlisle railway runs through the heart of Eden, with stations at Armathwaite, Lazonby, Langwathby, Appleby and Kirkby Stephen. Steam trains occasionally travel along this line.
Eden is wonderful walking country, either a leisurely walk along river banks and lake shore or take to the higher paths over the Pennines and Lake District fells. Cyclists can follow the coast to coast (C2C) and Cumbria Cycle Way, both waymarked, or enjoy the tracks that abound in the area.
There is a wide range of attractions to visit during your stay, historic houses, castles, gardens, craft workshops, galleries and museums (there are over seventy visitor attractions in Eden). Sporting facilities include sailing, windsurfing, golf, squash, tennis, horse riding and fishing. Your eating requirements are catered for by excellent restaurants reflecting the local flavour, traditional pubs, tea and coffee shops, either in the towns or one of the many picturesque villages. Or you can buy fresh local produce from farm or village shops to cook yourself, or perhaps to take home.
The River Eden provides challenging fishing, and has in place a "Go Wild" scheme to enable visitors to try wild fishing on the river. Information about this scheme is on the Go Wild website.
The Eden Rivers Trust is a charitable organisation dedicated to the conservation and protection of the River Eden, its tributaries and its surrounding countryside. The Trust organises a number of events and exhibitions each year.