The River Eden starts its journey to the sea high in the Mallerstang valley. It crashes down through Hell Gill – a narrow, steep-sided limestone gorge – into the main valley at Aisgill. Legend has it that the highwayman Dick Turpin once leapt over the gorge on his horse to escape pursuing lawmen – crossing is now much easier thanks to a lovely stone bridge.
This valley has a wild and remote feel hemmed in by the Mallerstang edge on one side and the distinctive Wild Boar Fell on the other. Two long distance walking routes follow the valley – the Lady Anne’s Way and Pennine Bridleway.
This is a valley of great history as well as beauty. Near Outhgill you will find the ruins of 12 Century Pendragon Castle which legend associates with Uther Pendragon, the father of King Arthur. It has been widely repeated in many sources that the castle was ruined by fire several times. However recent research suggests this is possibly a misunderstanding that has been repeated, with the damage by fire probably occurring once during a Scottish raid in 1341. Pendragon was restored in the 17 Century by Lady Anne Clifford who is associated with many sites throughout the Dales.
There are also the ruins of a Pele Tower – a defensive building against Scottish raiders – at nearby Lammerside. Running down the length of Mallerstang is the Settle to Carlisle railway from its highest point at Aisgill, passing Kirkby Stephen and following the Eden Valley all the way to Carlisle.
Lammerside Castle has been fully investigated both on the ground and in documents by Erik Matthews and published in ‘A House that Thieves Might Knock at’ Edited by Richard Oram published by Shaun Tyas, 2015. A history even more intriguing that the ruins. Additionally known as where Tarquin the Giant who ate babies. The Highwayman that Jumped Hell Gill was Ned who lived in a house opposite The Thrang, now a ruin.