Mallerstang - The Magic Valley
Mallerstang is one of the neglected places of Cumbria. It forms the headwaters of the River Eden, south of the town of Kirkby Stephen between Mallerstang Edge to the east and Wild Boar Fell to the west. This is the magic valley, where the River Eden rises on High Seat and Sir Hugh’s seat before flowing through the deep, narrow Hell Gill Gorge and over Hell Gill Force, then north towards Kirkby Stephen, Appleby, Penrith and eventually to the Solway Firth north of Carlisle. The rocks of the valley are limestones and gritstones, with a variable covering of moraines left by the glaciers of the last Ice Age. Other remnants of the post-glacial period can be found in the valley, including some spectacular boulder fields on both sides of the valley. There are also limestone gorges, swallow and pot holes, and springs that after a wet period can produce spectacular, if short-lived, water falls. The most spectacular of all arise from the springs beneath Lady Anne’s Highway above Hanging Lund (see the Mallerstang in Mono gallery). Traditional spring meadows full of flowers can still be seen in the valley in June (as in the picture above of the Nab from High Cocklake).
Mallerstang is a viking name and the valley still has the norsk pattern of settlements with farms spaced out on either side of the valley. In the 17th Century, the land was owned by Lady Anne Clifford who restored Pendragon Castle and St. Mary’s Mallerstang church. The castle soon fell into ruins, but the church is still in use.