Things to do nearby Milecastle
Brampton is a charming market town with a lovely market square, which has an octagonal Moot Hall at its centre, a thriving farmers’ market plus a good range of shops and eateries. The area is ideal for making the most of all that the north of England has to offer. Situated between the National Parks of Northumberland and the Lake District as well as being just a short distance from the Solway Coast and North Pennines Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it offers a vast amount of stunning scenery on the doorstep.
A few miles south of Brampton is Gelt Woods, a delightful walk and also an RSPB nature reserve. This steep beech woodland clings to the valley of the River Gelt and you can follow a network of paths. In the woods is a rock with an inscription carved by a Roman soldier in the 3rd Century. For an easy stroll ideal for all the family, including pushchairs and wheelchairs, head to Talkin Tarn Country Park, just outside Brampton. Feed the ducks and walk on the path around the tarn with the promise of tea and cake, lunch, ice cream or time in the play area at the end – bribes can be tailored to the preferences of those involved! You can also hire mountain bikes, windsurfers and canoes.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall is the obvious starting point for exploring the area. All the way along the wall you can find forts, museums, visitor centres and cafes. The Hadrian’s Wall path can be picked up at numerous locations and in many places you are walking right beside the wall. Where else in the UK can you experience such an impressive piece of history for free? Roman Vindolanda has an informative and fascinating museum with displays to suit all the family, and there is a gift shop and café to top you up before exploring the extensive remains of the town and fort.
The village of Irthington Newtown is on the popular Hadrian’s Wall Path. This 84-mile national trail stretches from coast to coast and takes in some of the most wild and beautiful landscapes in the border region. If you want more historical exploration, visit the ruins of Lanercost Priory, with its 13th century church, just to the north east of Brampton. Nowadays it’s a tranquil setting but it was once the scene of many border skirmishes. Indeed, it was attacked by Robert the Bruce himself! You could also visit the 15th century gatehouse that is the only remaining part of another priory at Wetheral.
For birdwatchers, the Solway coast is only a half-hour drive away. Bowness-on-Solway is at one end of Hadrian’s Wall Path and makes an enjoyable visit. Along this coast you’ll find an area of Special Scientific Interest surrounding Skinburness and Grune Point offering miles of unspoilt coastline, saltmarsh, specialist vegetation, a World War II pill box and the opportunity to view a wide variety of wading birds and wildfowl. Make sure to watch out for the tides! Even without the lure of birdlife this area is well worth a visit as it has been designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. Why not buy some fantastic local fish and chips and find a quiet spot to enjoy a Solway sunset?
Carlisle itself makes an enjoyable day out. Known as the ‘Border City’, it’s a lovely small city with shopping, a great choice of eateries, cinemas and museums. Tullie House has a number of exhibitions showcasing Cumbria’s history, nature and art and it makes a fabulous fun day out for families with lots of things for the children to do. The castle there has stood guard over the city for more than 900 years and has medieval dungeons, passageways and chambers to explore. The city has a rich history of border skirmishes and rogueish Reivers and it was once home to Mary Queen of Scots. It also has a stunning cathedral and a range of shops to suit all tastes. For yet more Roman remains ,when the river is low enough the foundations of a bridge over the River Eden can be seen under the current Eden Bridge on the edge of Bitts Park. Carlisle has plenty of wet weather family distractions, such as ten pin bowling, a cinema, trampoline park and soft play.
Families can also have fun at Walby Farm Park, where there are numerous animals to view such as alpacas, sheep and hens. Other attractions include pony grooming, mini Land Rovers, a Barmy Barrel train, play diggers and a huge indoor play area. Will you dare try the 24-foot demon drop slide?
Why not venture into the stunning Lake District? Ullswater is at the north eastern end of the national park and offers some of the most picturesque scenery anywhere in the country. In fact, it’s here that Wordsworth is believed to have got his inspiration for his famous poem, Daffodils, as he and his sister spotted some along the lake shore. There are numerous walks in the valley, from low-level ambles such as Aira Force to mighty Helvellyn, England’s third highest mountain.
The Solway Aviation Museum has the finest collection of vintage aircraft, artefacts and associated displays in the North West. Among railway enthusiasts, the Carlisle to Settle line is often considered one of the most scenic lines in the country, as the landscape is stunning. Take in Cross Fell, the Three Peaks of Yorkshire – Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent and Whenside – then Wild Boar Fell and the beautiful Eden Sandstone landscape. In the distance are the Lake District fells of Haweswater and Ullswater. The line covers 72 miles and passes through 14 tunnels and across 20 viaducts. Another option is the South Tynedale Railway in Alston, a narrow-gauge railway which runs through lovely scenery. Many walks and cycle rides can be done using the train one way and your own power the other! Discover Alston’s mining heritage and explore this compact market town while you’re there. This is the highest market town in England and it’s a lovely spot to visit.