Brampton, the main market town and base for exploring Hadrian's Wall, is surrounded by the gently rolling countryside of the Irthing Valley and Geltsdale, leading up to the rugged beauty of the North Pennines AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). A rich mosaic of woods, fields and moorlands crossed by numerous footpaths, bridleways and quiet roads makes for perfect walking and cycling country.
Close to the town, pockets of woodland and forest with open access await discovery, many with waymarked routes and information panels – Gelt Woods, Miltonrigg Wood, Rowbank Wood, Talkin Tarn and The Mote/Ridge Wood. Further afield are the beautiful hanging woodlands along the Irthing gorge at Combe Crag Wood and Gilsland Spa.
The low rolling hills conceal the outlying rural villages of Laversdale, Irthington, Walton, Lanercost, Talkin, Low Row, Hallbankgate and the former mining communities of Tindale and Midgeholme on the Pennines, whilst Gilsland, a spa town on the eastern edge of the county, straddles Cumbria and Northumberland.
On the doorstep of the famous Hadrian's Wall, there are some fascinating attractions in and around the Brampton area. Check out where you can visit your during your stay.
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With its attractive 18th century bridge, Longtown makes a good starting point for walks along the River Esk and through the surrounding countryside. The Solway Firth is also popular with birdwatchers looking for wading birds and wildfowl. A 60-acre country park, Oakbank, offers fishing, a bird sanctuary, lakes, and walks. Built in 1776, the red sandstone estate church in Longtown, St Andrew (Kirk Andrews upon Esk) is a rebuilding of an earlier one and restored itself in 1893. Longtown's Gothic styled parish church is dedicated to St. Michael and stands on land once called Arthur's Head. The parish name became Arthuret. A cross in the churchyard also represents the knights of Malta.
Standing close to Hadrian's Wall, the Augustinian priory of Lanercost was much involved in the Anglo-Scottish wars. During his last campaign in 1306-7 the mortally sick King Edward I rested here for 6 months before dying at Burgh-by-Sands as he prepared to enter Scotland. The abbey suffered terribly from Scottish raids, being sacked four times. It was finally dissolved by Henry VIII in 1537 but today its beautiful 13thC church remains remarkably well-preserved, standing to its full height; part is now in use as the parish church. See the unique 16thC wallpaintings in the Dacre Hall.
Brampton, along with other areas within the disputed border, was frequently targeted by reivers – organised family gangs on both sides of the Border who would steal, burn, kill and use extortion as a means of survival. During this period many fortified pele towers (Newby East, Askerton Castle) were built and Wardens of the Marches were appointed to keep the peace. In the ‘Western March’, this responsibility lay with the Lords Dacre of Naworth Castle who held the title for almost 300 years until the union of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603 spelled the end of reiving as a way of life.
During the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) laid claim to the English throne and amassed an army of Jacobites to march on London. During his siege of Carlisle, Charles ‘rested’ in Brampton. Following his victory in Carlisle he moved south, but encountered the Duke of Cumberland’s army advancing north, and the Jacobites were forced to retreat. Carlisle was quickly re-taken and many Jacobites were taken prisoner and sent to the gallows. In Brampton six of the rebels were hung from the ‘capon’ tree on Capon Tree Road. The tree is no longer there, but a monument marks the spot and records their names.
To the north is Hadrian’s Wall, a 75-mile (120 km) long fortification extending from the Solway Firth to Wallsend-on-Tyne that signified the northern frontier of the Roman Empire. Its strategically placed forts, fascinating milecastles, turrets and signal stations can be easily accessed by the Hadrian’s Wall bus (AD 122), which links to Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail and Hadrian’s Cycleway.
Brampton Old Church
Sir Walter Scott
St Martin’s Church
19th century Pre-Raphaelite church commissioned by George Howard, the 9th Earl of Carlisle and a patron of the arts. The architect was Philip Webb who employed Edward Burne-Jones to design a series of magnificent stained glass windows, which were installed by William Morris. The Pre-Raphaelites were noted for their strong use of colour and detailing, with emphasis on natural and medieval themes.