Hikers and cyclists trekking through northwestern England's Pennine Mountain will have a hard time avoiding Alston. With the the Sea to Sea Cycle Route and Pennine Way on their doorsteps, Alston's guest accommodations are surrounded at every turn with soaring fells and plunging river valleys. From luxurious full-service hotels to warm bed and breakfasts, they provide breaks as refreshing as the river waters and the mountain air.
Family-and dog-friendly Lowbyer Manor, just a five-minute stroll from Alston’s outskirts, is an English Heritage Grade II Georgian country home. Boasting a four-star Automobile Association (AA) rating, the nine-bedroom bed and breakfast sits among informal gardens with a 100-foot redwood tree. Secure cycle storage, outdoor faucets and boot scrapers, and borrowable maps cater to hikers and cyclists. Guestrooms have handcrafted quilts. Superior rooms offer DVD players; one has a four-poster bed. The lounge has reading materials and board games. Rates include full English breakfast. Ten minutes away, the Overwater Lodge Restaurant serves dinners of seasonal produce, steaks and game.
Alston House Hotel
The 17th-century Alston House Hotel is a three-minute stroll from Alston's center and the South Tynedale Railway Station. The trains travel 15 minutes to Kirkhaugh, where hikers can pick up a number of marked trails. The four-star AA hotel sits amid mature, fells-view gardens. Individually proportioned rooms have memory foam mattresses, Egyptian cotton linens and luxury toiletries. Cycle storage, a drying room and packed lunches are available. Room rates include breakfast. The House Cafe serves light meals, homemade cakes and Free Trade coffees. Alston House frequently has late-night receptions; advance booking of the quietest rooms is advisable.
Nent Hall Country House
The 18-bedroom Nent Hall Country House Hotel, a four-star AA guest accommodation, is a one-minute walk from the South Tynedale Railway. The ivy-clad, stone establishment captivates with a luxurious five-room tower suite, pond and children's play area. The terrace has vistas of sheep grazing peacefully on the fells. Family rooms sleeping up to five and four-poster beds are available. Rates include continental or full English breakfast. The hotel’s Valley View Restaurant offers both contemporary and traditional weekend dinners. Open daily, the Coach House Inn highlights locally brewed ales and pub fare.
A five-minute walk west of Alston's southern outskirts, Greycroft merits a four-star Enjoy England Bed and Breakfast rating. Cross Fell, the highest of the Pennines, is visible from Greycroft's elevated site in the village of Raise. Greycroft has a pair of accessible, comfortable ground floor rooms, one twin and one sleeping three. Cotton sheets and electric blankets ensure a good night's sleep even in the Cumbrian winter. Children are welcome at reduced rates, as are pets willing to sleep in their car. The guest lounge and dining room have garden and fell views. Prices include a full Cumbrian breakfast with a selection of fresh fruits and juices, yogurts, cereals and several hot options. The Miners Arms, 10 minutes away, welcomes children with their own menu. Wood-fired pizzas are a house specialty.
- pennine way image by tjwhittles from Fotolia.com