Kirky Stephen in Cumbria sits close to the Lake District and within the Yorkshire Dales National Park and has its very own parrot population as well as a Loki stone
A charming market town with a surprising parrot population is becoming one of the UK’s most popular staycation destinations.
The expert team at Independent Cottages have shared this year’s most underrated hotspots and there’s a Cumbrian town on the list. Around 18 million people visit the Lake District every year, but far fewer head to the areas surrounding it, despite them sharing in much of its natural beauty.
Kirkby Stephen is one of the destinations that often gets overlooked. It lies in an area of Cumbria that is much less well known than the Lake District, but equally appealing, surrounded as it is by a landscape of pastoral rural scenery and wild uplands.
The heavily cobbled village has been part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park since 2016. Its remote location far from other sizeable towns mean Kirkby Stephen has developed a strong and self-sufficient identity and a vibrant sense of community.
Kirkby Stephen is ideally placed to explore the beautiful Lake District National Park as well as the Smardale Gill nature reserve, which is on its doorstep and is one of the area’s best-rated spots on Tripadvisor. The town is also close to the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and was Cumbria’s first ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town, in recognition of the many excellent hiking routes that begin and end in the settlement of 1,8000. Nearby is the the Dandry Mire Viaduct on the Settle to Carlisle Railway, which crosses 17 viaducts in total.
In terms of wildlife, Kirkby Stephen and the surrounding area enjoy a large population of sheep, as one might expect. Perhaps more surprising are the flocks of parrots which can sometimes be seen flying around. They belong to a local conservation charity and can be seen fluttering onto rooftops and chimneys. According to the BBC, the trust which looks after the town’s famous free-flying parrots pays out up to £10,000 each year to help repair the damage they can cause to people’s roofs and chimneys.
Another intriguing feature of the town is the Loki stone which stands in its church. It depicts a strange, demonic looking figure and was dug out from the foundations of the church during a rebuilding project in 1847. It is thought to be one of just two such stones in the UK.
A spokesperson for Independent Cottages said: “Cumbria remains one of the UK’s most popular destinations for days out and breaks. From its bustling settlements to its tranquil countryside, it has topped the rankings in recent years as one of the most favoured counties.
“The area of Kirkby Stephen remains off the tourist-trodden route compared to some Lake District locations but boasts an equally beautiful and wild setting with spectacular scenery and close proximity to the national park. With heritage railways, impressive castles, and gorgeous natural surroundings, it’s hard to think of a reason why not to go to this market town.”
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