The small market town of Kirkby Stephen, at 600 ft. above sea-level, makes it the highest town in the Eden Valley. The market square once doubled as a bull-baiting ring, and the perimeter is still marked by cobblestones. Leading off from the square is the magnificent parish church, often referred to as The Cathedral of the Dales. It dates back to 1175 and contains Saxon remains, including a Loki Stone, one of only two in Europe.

Kirkby Stephen is situated exactly half way on the 190 mile Coast to Coast walk between St. Bees Head and Robin Hoods Bay, and is a very popular centre with walkers, who come to explore the wild beauty of the surrounding fells. Each year in early June, the Rotary Club organises the Nine Standards Mallerstang Horseshoe Yomp, which attracts several hundred fit walkers and fell runners who tackle the 23 miles.

A market is held every Monday, and the towns auction mart is busy throughout the year, including the annual tup sales in September, when rams are sold for five figure sums and buyers come from all over the country.

In October there is Cowper Day, which is a horse fair and a colourful event, again attracting buyers from all over the British Isles.

Kirkby Stephen boasts several pubs and a former coaching inn, The Kings Arms Hotel. There is also the Old Forge restaurant and a number of good coffee shops, so there is plenty of choice for eating out. Antique shops, craft galleries and a bookshop make it a pleasant town in which to spend a few hours.

Franks Bridge, a lovely old arched stone bridge crossing the River Eden, leads one across farmland to numerous walks, or on a Sunday afternoon in the summer, there is always a game of cricket to watch on the nearby pitch.

Fishing permits for the River Eden are available in the town and there is a nine hole golf course midway
between Crosby Garrett and Kirkby Stephen. Bicycles are also for hire locally.