In the Northumberland–Solway Basin and Alston Block of northern England, some aspects of the stratigraphical and sedimentological relationships between the Millstone Grit Group, the Stainmore Formation (Namurian part of the Yoredale Group) and the Westphalian Pennine Coal Measures Group are uncertain. Also, confusion has resulted from discontinuation of Millstone Grit as a formal lithostratigraphical term north of the Stainmore Basin. This paper presents the evidence for, and describes the nature of, a Kinderscoutian (early Pennsylvanian) abrupt transition from typical ‘Yoredale cyclicity’, characterized by marine limestones in a dominantly siliciclastic succession but including marked fluvial channels, to a sandstone-dominated fluvial succession recognizable as the Millstone Grit Group. Sandbodies present in this region are probably the fluvial feeder systems to many of the fluvio-deltaic successions recorded farther south in the Central Pennine Basin. However, onset of the Millstone Grit Group occurs much earlier to the south, during the Pendleian (late Mississippian), despite the entry of fluvial systems into the Central Pennines Basin from the north. In addition to explaining this counter-intuitive relationship, the paper also recognizes continuation of the fluvial regime into the lowermost part of the Pennine Coal Measures Group.