When the common land was enclosed in 1856, this area was dedicated for recreational purposes and named, to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, in 1887.
As funds allowed, a bandstand and boating lake were added. We have Andrew MacKereth, the Warden at the Workhouse, to thank for laying out the planting and his “labour of love”, so many years ago. Today, there is a tranquil mature wood and a wild flower meadow with orchids and, the pond, once loved by children, is now an important wild life habitat.
The award winning Summerhouse, designed by Elaine Rigby Architects and built by G Middleton Ltd., of stone and oak replaced the ruined octagonal bandstand. This is a masterpiece of design and a beautiful place to sit to view the spectacular panoramic scenery of Wild Boar and Mallerstang Edge. Once all the colourful deciduous leaves fall and all the conkers gathered, you will also have a view of Kirkby Stephen below.
Other parks, playgrounds and picnic areas
Located to the north of Kirkby Stephen, between Mark John’s Garage and Eden Bridge, is a field known as Edensyde. This land is owned by the Town Council and is being developed as a new leisure area. Access is from either, Eden Bridge or, by footpath through Low Mill, next to Low Bridge on Hartley Road.
500 native British trees, provided by the Woodland Trust, were planted in early 2010 by members of the community including the Upper Eden Rotary Club and local Scouts. We are grateful to resident Dick Capel for his insight and Peter Leeson, of the Woodland Trust, for all his assistance. The trees are growing fast and we all look forward to the day when this will be a well grown wood in which to play and enjoy the wildlife. This section of the river is an SSSI, Site of Special Scientific Interest and if you are lucky you may see Otters.
The castle like seat of stone was designed and built by pupils of Kirkby Stephen Grammar School, a fantastic place to play “I’m the King of the Castle” or have a picnic.
The footpath from Low Mill Bridge (Hartley Road), has been upgraded by Eden Conservation with essential river bank repairs to improve this attractive right of way to Edensyde.
For a circular walk from the town centre via Low Mill and Edensyde there are manly paths to choose for the return, either just the other side of the river via the footpath known as the Ellis Run, via the wide roadside pavement, via Appleby Road and Greensike Lane or the longer route past Eden Place, right at Slack Gap Lane and right to Hartley returning on one of the routes back into Kirkby Stephen over Frank’s Bridge.
This is a mysterious and wondrous place where the infant River Eden cascades through the wood. The Millennium Bridge designed by Blackett-Ord Consulting Engineers, built by P. Mawdsley was opened in 2002. You will not be disappointed with the view from the bridge down into the chasm known as Coup-Kernan. Victorians named this spectacular scene Kirkby Stephen Water Falls, drawing early visitors.
There is a partly collapsed cave system frequented by pot-holers called ‘The Angel’s Drainpipe’ and ‘The Devil’s Grinding Mill’. It is said that you can hear the grinding of mustard for the devil far below as the water charges through the narrow channels. Then there is the legend of Deville and his lover. In revenge he threw her in the gorge and then jumped in himself, the two lovers being engulfed by the water. Many imagine early Druid worshippers.
There used to be a narrow channel known as ‘The Span Dub’ where the gap between the rocky banks was narrowed enough to be spanned by a human hand. William Kitching, a stonemason (died 1834 aged 84), said he would be the last man to span the Eden. Having stretched his hand across, he smashed the rocks with his walling hammer thus increasing the gap forever.
‘It was varra bad of him; he sudn’t hev dun it.
It was a girt cuer ‘osity, t’span t’Eden.’
Within the park there are two sets of stones carved with poems by Meg Peacocke which are part of the twelve Poetry Path stones. The second sculpture in the Eden Benchmarks series, the naturally crumbling, ‘Passing’ by Laura White is next to the river.
If you continue over Millennium Bridge you can enjoy the Northern Viaduct Trust’s wheelchair and pushchair friendly footpath along the old Stainmore Railway, over Podgill and Merrygill viaducts, to Hartley. There are historical information points along the walk.
Stenkrith is definitely the best place in the area to look for fairies
At the back of the Market Square, down Stoneshot, is Frank’s Bridge, a C17th pack horse bridge which is part of the corpse route from neighbouring villages. On the far end of the bridge are two stones where the coffin could be rested before the climb to the Parish Church.
Frank was allegedly, Francis Birkbeck, a brewer in the early C19th.
A delightful place to enjoy a picnic and where toddlers feed the ducks.
Kirkby Stephen Primary School playground and Adventure Park
A delight for all primary school aged children. Walking entrance via Nateby Road alongside the school or South Road next to the Friends Meeting House. No dogs.
Westgarth Play Park
Enclosed facilities for younger children and some added items for older young people. Entrance from Croglam Lane.
There are additional play parks in many local villages.