Meaning ‘Valley of the Shining Water’ in old Celtic language, perhaps because of the traces of shimmering silver and lead ore running through its rivers, is Allendale. Twice crowned 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.
Allendale’s vibrant community is renowned for throwing a party. Most famous is the Tar Barle, a unique New Year celebration. Revellers called ‘guisers’ carry whisky barrels filled with blazing tar on their heads. This festival of fire dates back to 1858 and has attracted onlookers from far and wide, including celebrated English poet, Philip Larkin.
Get your barras at the ready for a spot of ‘wheelie good’ fun at the annual Allendale Festival. If barrow racing isn’t for you, then browse the festival’s food and craft stalls or settle back to watch the strong men feats in the village square, like the Stone of Strength lift and bus pull.
This countryside of contrasts attracts walkers, cyclists and horse riders. For a scenic walk, head out around the River Allen East on routes taking in moorland, waterfalls and wildlife. See too the remains of Allendale’s industrial heritage of lead and silver extraction. Serious walkers throng to Allendale to take part in its annual Allendale Challenge – a 25-mile endurance circuit around the valley.