C2C - Route 71
Route Section: Keswick > Alston
From Start: 74km (46m) | From Finish: 314km (196m)
Penrith 13km (8m)
Alston 47km (29m)
There's a decent pub in the village where you can eat as well as drink. It's curious name The Boot & Shoe relates to the habit of a former Duke of Norfolk, an ancestor of Tarzan of Greystoke, of wearing a shoe on one foot and a boot on the other, to ease the pain of crippling gout. Whether or not, thus clad, he shuffled down the long drive and across the green to the pub is not recorded.
Greystoke Cycle Cafe has a lovely tea garden and is perfectly geared up for cyclists. It is open 12-6pm from Easter until end of September and from 10-6pm every Saturday and Sunday. There is a barn with some basic bike maintenance kit.
Paying homage to the original Tarzan This traditional English village, 8km west of Penrith, was built around a green with a pub and a church the size of a cathedral. Discreetly hidden at the top of a long drive and behind a curtain of trees in a 3,000-acre wooded park is Greystoke Castle, seat of the Howard family since the 1500s, when they were emerging as movers and shakers behind the monarchies of the late Tudors and early Stuarts.
Tarzan is modelled on one former Baron Greystoke, and there are certainly enough trees for any Lord of the Apes to practice on. It is a family home and business rather than a theme park, so not much is made of the Tarzan link, but I thought Tarzan fans might be interested.
The village is probably Roman in origin, lying alongside the road they built from Penrith to Troutbeck. The name means 'place by the River Creik', a small stream nearby. The village was known as Creistock in early Medieval times. Though most of the village dates from the 17th century, the foundation of the Perpendicular-style church was laid in the mid-1200s, though building did not start until 1382, and went on into the next century. The bells that still ring out in Greystoke date from the Middle Ages.
Inside is some fine Medieval and Victorian stained glass. The Spillers Stone in the village was thought to be a plague stone, where plague victims left coins in a pool of vinegar on its concave surface. The vinegar was supposed to protect the healthy, who left food there for sufferers.
According to the Cumbria Directory, Greystoke Castle was an integral part of village life, the first version being constructed in 1129 as protection against Scottish Border raiders, precursors of the Reivers who came to dominate the area.
Oliver Cromwell destroyed much of Greystoke and a devastating fire in 1868 ensured that only the fortified medieval pele tower and a few Georgian interiors survived and the present building, though it mimics the Elizabethan style, actually dates from the 19th century.
The nearby countryside boasts a number of fine old fortified houses complete with pele towers, notably Blencowe Hall, built in 1590, Greenthwaite Hall, and Johnby Hall. All are reminders of the bloody times in the Borders.
In the saddle
The village is also home of the Greystoke Stables, a successful racehorse training yard. Notable victories include Lucius (1978) and Hallo Dandy (1982) in the Grand National and three successes in the King George VI Chase, the feature face at Kempton Park's Boxing Day meeting.
Where to Eat and Drink
Boot & Shoe and the Cycle Cafe, as you head out of the village towards Blencow.
Where To Sleep
Run by: Christine Mole
Comfortable barn conversion on the outskirts of the village with a warm welcome and hearty breakfasts using local produce. Secure storage plus washing and drying facilities.
Rooms: 1T, 2F.
B&B: £40 (en-suite)
Pk lunch: £4.50. On route.
Pub 300 yds.