The name of the town is recorded in 1164–71 as Aldeneby and in 1209 as Aldeneston, and seems to mean "the settlement or farmstead belonging to [a Viking man named] Halfdan".
Alston is remarkable for its charming cobbled stone main street and its Market Cross in the centre of the town; originally donated by a former inhabitant of the town who became a Lord Mayor of London.
Nenthead Mines have open days with underground trips into the mines.
Many of the bus services to and from Alston are operated by Wright Brothers Coaches, which has depots at Nenthead, three miles from Alston, and at Blucher near Newcastle upon Tyne, and operates an 82-mile route linking Newcastle with Keswick via Hexham, Haydon Bridge, Alston and Penrith from July to September each year. All local bus services are now under threat of end of service as the County Council wish to remove subsidies. This will leave only the Alston to Carlisle bus in operation.
Alston grew rapidly in size to accommodate the ever increasing number of workers, though many miners lived near their places of work, often in appalling conditions.
Steam trains on the narrow-gauge South Tynedale Railway run from April to October, offering a short journey though pleasant scenery.
The Discovery Centre is open Tuesday to Sunday 9.30 – 5 (unless booked for a private event)
A history of Alston Moor by Alastair Robertson ISBN 0-9547339-1-6
By 1280 the area was in the hands of the English, but Edward I king of England confirmed the ownership of the de Veteripont family.
The North Pennines used to be one of the wealthiest lead mining centres in Europe and the nearby Roman fort of Whitley Castle (Epiacum) was sited to control and protect the lead mines there. St Augustine's Church in Alston was built in 1869, but records show a church has existed on the site since 1145 AD. Inside the church is an interesting clock, brought from Dilston Hall, the home of the Earl of Derwentwater.
A restored water wheel is in the town centre. Nearby there are restored Lead Mines open as museums.
Visit our Events listing for full details of what's on in the area or contact Alston TIC.
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Long distance routes include the C2C, Walney to Wear and Pennine cycle routes - all pass near the town making their way through some stunning scenery. You can also go fishing on the River South Tyne.
Nearby is Epiacum Roman Fort described as 'the best preserved fort in the Roman empire,' (Stewart Ainsworth from TV's 'Time Team'). Please be aware that the site is in the early development stages and there is no on site interpretation as yet.
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When and where to buy quality local produce at Eden’s Farmers' Markets held at Brough, Orton and Penrith
Activities include: walking - hiking - pony trekking - fishing - and golf on the highest course in England!
Visited mid week. Diesel hauled return trip over the entire line. Good views from slow moving train on uneven track. To get to Alston from the north involves some extremely twisty/winding hilly roads so beware if you are not a good traveler.
Self-catering with 1 unit, £276-£688 pupw sleeps 1-6
Area Any Alston Appleby in Westmorland Kirkby Stephen Penrith Ullswater
The new Solway Border & Eden LEADER Programme is now open for grants to small businesses, community organisations, farmers and foresters for projects that create jobs and grow the rural economy. Sam Bramwell, the Programme’s Lead Officer will give an overview of the programme on Tuesday, 23rd February, 2pm at Samuel King's School.
The surrounding moorland is mainly used for sheep farming; however many farmers also have other enterprises, such as bed and breakfast accommodation. During winter months farming can be tough, due to the severe weather in the area.
Alston has many attractions for the visitor including a narrow gauge railway found at the old Station.
This town has a cool and relatively rainy oceanic climate (Cfb, according to the Köppen climate classification), with mild summers and chilly winters, with snowfalls. It is one of the coldest inhabited places in England.
As part of a generous HLF grant awarded to the Society in 2014, work is now complete on the redesign of our accessible Discovery Centre.
Alston has a good range of places to eat including hotels, pubs, tea rooms and cafes.
Welcome to the community website for residents of Alston Moor – here you will find the latest local news, a guide to what’s on locally, social media feeds, a photo gallery and links to other related websites for Alston Moor.
‘The Buffer Stop Café is located at Alston station right on the platform, providing good quality homemade food. Local produce is the norm and Shirley’s freshly baked cakes are a favourite amongst visitors and personnel alike. Once she bakes one of her delicious cakes they don’t last long. The menu varies throughout the season to reflect the weather and of course can eaten in the café, in our picnic areas or on the train.
Alston in the North Pennines is surrounded by a unique landscape of moorland, hills, rivers and waterfalls and is one of England's highest market towns (being about 1,000 feet above sea level).
Historically the area has been mined for lead, silver, zinc, coal and fluorspar. The nearby Roman fort of Whitley Castle (Epiacum) may in part have been sited to control and protect the lead mines there.
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Follow the Alston Town Treasure Trail and take part in the areas first dedicated QR code Town Trail. Use your smart phone to scan the clues and then go hunting for more whilst discovering the history of the town.
Situated at the crossroads/junction of the A686, A689 and B6277, the town lies on the confluence of the River South Tyne and the River Nent. On 18 May 2013 very heavy rain resulted in flooding in seven areas of Alston, affecting thirty-six properties. The Environment Agency records indicate that 51mm of rain fell that day.
In the 13th century, the area was known as the silver mines of Carlisle—silver was found in a high proportion (up to 40 troy ounces per long ton or 1.2 g/kg of smelted lead) and was used to create coinage in the Royal Mint established in Carlisle for the purpose. Most mining was very small scale until the mid-18th century,
Alston Moor, Cumbria: Buildings in a North Pennines landscape by Lucy Jessop and Matthew Whitfield, with Andrew Davison (English Heitage) 2013 ISBN 978-1-84802-117-4
Where to find Tourist Information Centres in Eden, contact details and what services they offer
Although the town does not hold a regular market it still maintains the legal right to do so. The market cross, which acts as a focal point in the centre of town, was constructed in 1981 to replace one which was demolished by a wagon in January 1980. That earlier cross had itself replaced a cross of 1883 which was knocked down by a lorry in 1968.
Places to stay in Alston range from hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) to self catering cottages - many with great views and there's a Youth Hostel in the town.
The earliest evidence of population in the area comes from pottery fragments, a gold basket-earring and flint tools found in one of two barrows excavated in 1935 (2 miles [3 km] NNW of Alston at Kirkhaugh), these were dated between 2000 BC and 1700 BC.