The quaint and beautiful little town of Alston is sometimes accused of being a bit too proud of itself. The reason for this could be due to the fact that, at 1000 feet of elevation above sea level, Alston is one of the highest elevated towns in the United Kingdom. Others, however, surmise that the stuck-up demeanor of the town is due to the gorgeous natural features that can be found everywhere you look. After all, the town rests near where the River Nent and the South Tyne meet and the entire surrounding area is filled with nourishing bounty of these bodies of water. Sandstone, shale, and limestone abound in the region and these give a smattering of color and flavor to the scenery and further cement Alston's reputation as a gorgeous town that rests high above its inferior neighbors.
A good barometer of how beautiful Alston truly is, is made evident in the fact that Alston's primary economy is that of tourism. Though it has its fair share of enjoyable night life and fun diversions, Alston is not the kind of vacation destination that, say, Blackpool is. Essentially, the reason that Alston commands so much tourist money is that people simply come to the town to marvel at its wondrous appearance. In other words, Alston could be seen as something of the municipal equivalent of a supermodel. If London is hulking, fire-breathing behemoth and Birmingham is his slightly smaller but slightly crazier younger brother, Alston is their hot sister that usually does her best to stay away from them.
This isn't to say that Alston is completely obsessed and dedicated to maintaining its beauty, though; on the contrary, mining has been a big business in the town for as long as civilization has inhabited it. The aforementioned limestone and sandstone are reason enough to start mining but the natural lead deposits, silver ore, and coal made Alston a highly desirable place to dig around in. Naturally, most of the best minerals have long since been taken away forever and mining isn't very prevalent in Alston anymore but there was a time when it almost a European Deadwood. In the 1200s Alston was known as Carlisle and its land was relatively fresh and virginal. It didn't take long, however, for people to discover that there was a vast amount of silver in and around the town and soon the famed "Silver Mines of Carlisle" was on everybody's lips, being uttered in greedy sighs. When heavy industry came into vogue by the 1800s Alston was being regularly leached of its minerals and in time there was simply nothing left to mine. This should be seen as a good thing, though, since Alston has healed remarkably and one would have to know where to look to find the locations that were once major mining centers. If one wished one could simply go on one of the many tours that Alston caters to in which they show you the original mines and take you through some of them. It is a very enjoyable and thrilling experience and yet another reason to visit the gorgeous town of Alston.
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