Places to Visit

Lanercost

A peaceful village in the beautiful Irthing valley, Lanercost is steeped in history.

The Augustinian Lanercost Priory is Cumbria’s best-preserved monastery. Sited not far from Scotland’s border, the priory was often the target of attacks by the Scottish Army. In 1538 Henry VIII dissolved it as a priory and the parish congregation took over its church buildings. The adjoining Dacre Hall is now Lanercost’s village hall.

If you’re planning a drive or walk along Hadrian’s Wall, Lanercost Tea Room is the place to get fresh homemade local food before you head off. It also doubles as Hadrian’s Wall Gateway Visitor Information Centre.

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Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall lies less than half a mile away from Lanercost. The wall is an extraordinary World Heritage Site. Built between AD 122 and 128 to control the Roman northern frontier, on the orders of Emperor Hadrian, it stretches 73 miles from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea.

You’ll find significant remains of the wall within easy walking distance of Abbey Farm House, starting off with Hare Hill, the tallest remaining stretch of the wall, then Banks East Turret a well-preserved observation tower.

Two minutes walk from there is Pike Hill Signal Tower, one of the few visible parts of the wall to pre-date it.

A little further to the east, Birdoswald Roman Fort provides a panoramic view of the longest continuous remaining stretch of Hadrian's Wall. Birdoswald was one of 16 forts built as part of the Hadrian's Wall frontier system. The site has a museum and exhibition centre.

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Brampton and Talkin Tarn

A small historic market town two miles to the west of Lanercost, Brampton is an intriguing place to explore with historic buildings like St Martin’s Church and Moot Hall, alleyways, cottages, and Capon Hill where men from Bonnie Prince Charlie’s retreating garrison were hung by the Duke of Cumberland.

Talkin Tarn Country Park, two miles to the south, is an excellent family destination with swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing, accessible walks in ancient woods, beautiful views, a tearoom and exhibition centre.

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Bewcastle

To the north of Lanercost, Bewcastle is a tiny isolated village with a wealth of history. It has the remains of an unusual hexagonal Roman fort built as an outlying defence of Hadrian’s Wall. Stone from the fort was used to build Bewcastle Castle whose remains also lie on the site. The castle was a place of safety for locals from the Border Reivers or raiders who plundered and pillaged the area for 300 years.

Also on the site, rests St Cuthbert’s Church. The present church was rebuilt in 1792 although parts of the building date from 1277. In the churchyard, stands Bewcastle Cross pre-dating the original church by 600 years. It is one of the finest surviving Anglo-Saxon crosses and is engraved with runic inscriptions and historic figures.

Bewcastle’s story is told through small exhibition in Bewcastle Museum, also sited in the churchyard.

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Carlisle

The City of Carlisle lies close to the Scottish border and was originally settled by the Romans to service the forts on Hadrian’s Wall.

Standing over the city, Carlisle Castle dates back to 1122, monument to the years when the Scots and English battled over the settlement. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in the castle in 1567. It houses Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life.

There are many things to do and see in Carlisle, not least Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery which houses collections of fine and decorative art, human history and natural sciences and has a wide range of events.

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Burgh by Sands

West of the City of Carlisle, Burgh by Sands village has been occupied since Roman times and was once a fort, Aballava. Hadrian’s Wall runs through the village. In 1307 it was the resting place of the powerful Plantagenet King Edward I. Later the area was beset by cross-border warfare.

The village lies within the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, recognised for its birdlife, rich natural history and beautiful sunsets.

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Hexham

One of England’s favourite market towns, Hexham enjoys a thriving arts and cultural scene, a race course and many notable historic buildings. Make sure you visit Hexham Abbey and Hexham Old Gaol while you’re there. The abbey is a beautiful Augustinian Priory with a 1,300-year history. The gaol is the oldest purpose built prison in England and has a vivid exhibition centre with family-friendly activities.

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