The South Northumberland town of Allendale sits among the Allen valleys between Rookhope, Alston and Haltwhistle. Derived from ‘Valley of the Shining Water’ in old Celtic, perhaps from the traces of silver and lead ore running through its rivers. Twice named as Village of the Year for All England, this pretty, stone-built village in the heart of the Allen Valleys may be small in size, but it is big in personality.
The village is set around a huge open square, where markets were held – the number of pubs remaining gives an idea of its imporance in years gone by. There are also plenty of cafes, galleries and other shops, as well as a pretty church off one corner of the square, so well worth a visit.
New Year Celebration
Allendale’s vibrant community is renowned for throwing a party. Most famous is the Tar Bar’l, a unique New Year celebration. Revellers called ‘guisers’ carry whisky barrels filled with blazing tar on their heads. It really is a great spectacle if you are booking a stay at Terrace Cottage for New Year.
The festival of fire dates back to 1858 and has attracted onlookers from far and wide, including English poet laureate, Philip Larkin.
Allendale has one of the greatest concentrations of bastles in the country and around 40 can still be seen, many as scenic ruins. These fortified farmhouses were built to protect farm livestock from raids by the ‘Border Reivers’. Examples nearby include the Nine Dargue Bastle beside Steel Burn, near Nettle Hill Farmhouse to the south of the town.
Allendale also has the sad reputation for the last English wolf, which was killed on the railway near Carlisle. It seems however that this was a captive ‘pet’ of Captain Barnes of Shotley Bridge. It had been in the region for a while killing livestock, so much that there was a Hexham Wolf Committee formed to deal with it.
To see the area in a different light, take a walk from the Town Square and explore the countryside towards Catton and Old Town – 7m walk…
Shopping in Allendale
Allendale has a selection of useful shops worth stopping at
- Allendale Coop – allendalecoop.co.uk
- Allendale Bakery and Café – at Sparty Lea – allendalebakery.com
- The Gift Shop –
- The Tea Rooms
Places of Worship
- St Cuthbert’s Anglican church – the 14th Century church was replaced in 1807, and that also was demolished and replaced as it was considered too plain.
- Trinity Methodist church – Methodism has a strong history in the Pennines and John Wesley visited and preached to miners in the region many times.
- Society of Friends – a meeting house was established in 1733