Brampton - a day out to remember

Brampton, Cumbria… Perhaps you’ve seen the signpost, whilst driving along the A69, heading East towards Newcastle or South towards the Lake District?  Or maybe it’s a destination that has long been on your To-See list?  Now that restrictions are easing and the days are getting longer, it’s a great time to make that visit.

It may be small but Brampton is a town full of surprises.  Known for its proximity to the World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall, it is less well known for its range of independent shops and cafes plus a wealth of outdoor spaces to explore and enjoy.  Just one hour’s drive from the Lakes, the town offers a peaceful contrast to the hustle and bustle of the more popular Lake District destinations.

The town’s name derives from the Old English, Brom-tun, a place where broom grew.  Given its Market Charter in 1252 by King Henry lll, the town’s markets continue to thrive almost 1000 years later.  The cobbled market square with its octagonal Moot Hall hosts two market days; a weekly Wednesday event and a Farmers’ Market held on the last Saturday of each month.  Both offer a wide variety of stalls and local producers feature prominently.  Cheese, organic meat, fish, bread, fruit, vegetables and flowers are offered, together with clothing, household goods, pet supplies and much more besides.

Brampton - a day out to remember

If your visit doesn’t coincide with a market day there are still lots of retail opportunities to enjoy.  And apart from two small supermarkets, there is not a High Street brand to be seen, so a unique shopping experience is assured.

At the southern end of the town, next door to St Martin’s Church with its Morris & Co stained glass windows, is Cumbrian Antiques.  Housed in the Grade II listed former church hall, the shop boasts lofty, oak-beamed ceilings and beautiful arched windows.  The building boasts 4,500 square feet, crammed with period antiques and collectables, and was declared ‘one of the best antique shops I have visited’ by Drew Pritchard of TV’s Salvage Hunters.  It is open every day except Sunday.

Continuing the collectors theme, Vintage North is the newest addition to the town for curio hunters.  The attractive three-storey period house on Market Square specialises in kitchenalia and vintage clothing as well as furniture, china, and all manner of collectables – an eclectic mix just made for leisurely browsing.  Opening times vary, so ring ahead to check. Tel 07711 175263

Just  5 minutes walk away from the Market Square, in the town’s former brewery yard, is Lowther Antiques.  This spacious warehouse displays a wide range of antique, reclaimed and pre-loved furniture.  Open 7 days a week, Lowther Antiques offers a delivery service and parking at the door.

If serious browsing brings on the need for refreshment, Brampton boasts almost as many cafes as days in the week!  Each establishment offers a warm welcome, homemade specials and  tasty homebaked treats – a veritable scone heaven…  The town was once the home of 45 public houses but today only three remain.  Pub meals and a roaring fire can be found at the largest, the Grade II listed Howard Arms, where four legged friends are made very welcome.

The town is justifiably proud of its Fair Trade Status, awarded in 2005, and was amongst the first 100 towns in the UK to achieve it.  Half Moon Wholefoods on Main Street was founded over 30 years ago and remains committed to the Fair Trade ethos.  Owners Alison and Kathleen stock many accredited products in the ‘small shop with a big heart’.  Their Aladdin’s cave stocks a huge range of wholefoods, toiletry and cleaning products (a refill service is available), local fresh produce including cheese, yogurts, breads and baked goods.  The shop is also the home of Truffles of Brampton – gift wrapped and ready to take home.  The shop gets its unusual name from a previous life as the C16th Half Moon public house, where the French Ambassador and right hand man to Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed during the Jacobite Rebellion.

Ria-Plenish on High Cross Street is a refill and Eco shop offering a selection of products with the emphasis on minimising waste and reducing single-use plastics.  The shop offers a wide range of household, cleaning and food cupboard staples, refilled to your own container.  With its bright, modern interior it’s easy to overlook the fact that this is one of Brampton’s oldest buildings and is known as Prince Charlie’s House (look for the blue plaque at the entrance).  But this is a C16th building with a C21st ethos, offering a more sustainable way of shopping.

A few paces up the hill is Colin Moore’s – a traditional butcher established in 1979 and highly regarded in the area for top quality meats including the famous Cumberland Sausage and their own home-cured bacon.  Colin’s pies are particularly popular with locals and visitors alike.  Everything is produced in-house, from the fillings to the melt-in-the-mouth pastry.  Passing the shop on bake day can be impossible! They also stock local eggs, jams and pickles, and fruit and vegetables grown at nearby Longtown, 8 miles away.  Open every day from 7am-5pm except Sunday.

Brampton - a day out to remember

Cranston’s of Penrith have been family butchers for over 100 years but their Food Hall at Brampton, in the town’s former bank, is a more recent addition.  Alongside expertly butchered local meat is an array of more than 50 local producers offering bread, cakes, jams and chutneys, cheese, ales and spirits and handmade chocolates.  There is also a hot food counter that is great for picnics.  Actor Robson Green visited recently to film for his Hadrian’s Wall TV series, and helped to produce the famous Cumberland ‘ring’.

No visit to Cumbria would be complete without a souvenir or gift for a loved one.  Brampton boasts several gift and craft shops where you can find unusual, hand-crafted items. Check out the Victorian shop frontage and attractive window display at Wishstrings, on High Cross Street, established in 2012.  Finding that special ‘one-off’ isn’t a challenge in the town and the owner of one shop, Bespoke on Main Street, produces her own glass ware, jewellery and cushions.  Bespoke also offers clothing and soft furnishing alterations.

If that’s not enough, the town also  enjoys; a preloved clothing and dress agency, a thriving post office, two small supermarkets, independent green grocer, pet and farm supplies, dog grooming and boutique, hardware supplies, newsagents, fish and chips, hot food takeaways, hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, opticians, chiropodists, dentist, florist, picture framers, charity shops and much, much more.  A parking disc is needed to take advantage of the town’s plentiful and free parking.

Small really is beautiful!

Brampton - a day out to remember

Three miles away, along gently winding country roads is the hamlet of Lanercost with its C12th Priory that is open to the public and managed by English Heritage.  Next door, the parish church of St Mary Magdalene with its Morris & Co stained glass windows, was once part of the Priory and now plays a huge part in the life of the community it serves.  The Lanercost Dossal, an embroidered panel designed by William Morris in the C19th is displayed behind the altar and was sewed by the ladies of the Parish.

And in case you’re in need of further refreshments and the opportunity for more shopping, Lanercost Tea Rooms and Gift Shop are just a few minutes walk away.

Hadrian’s Wall 1900

Brampton is an ideal base for exploring Hadrian’s Wall and Birdoswald Roman Fort and in 2022, Hadrian’s Wall celebrates its 1900th anniversary. Hadrian’s Wall 1900 is a yearlong festival dedicated to this impressive milestone. There’s something for everyone to enjoy! Contemporary artworks, family-friendly exhibitions and events, food festivals, and even a city of lights celebration in Carlisle await.

The Welcome Back to High Streets project is supported by Discover Carlisle and Carlisle City Council.




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