We may not be able to travel yet, but we can dream about the places we would love to visit next. If you live in the UK, why not plan a holiday in your own country this year? Brownber Hall is a charming boutique guesthouse in Cumbria that ticks all the boxes for a dreamy, relaxing countryside break!
I stayed at Brownber Hall for a weekend last November, on a mini press trip organised by my friend Jess on Thames. Joining us on this journey to North West England were Jo Candids by Jo and Kym Grimshaw.
We boarded a train at Kings Cross station in London on a Friday morning, changed trains in Leeds and continued on another train to Kirkby Stephen. From there, it’s a short taxi ride to Brownber Hall. We arrived at the guesthouse just in time for afternoon tea, but more on that in a bit.
About Brownber Hall
We were greeted at the door by the co-owners Peter and Amanda (and their dog Bella). The young couple moved from East London to Cumbria in 2016 to indulge in their passions for the hiking, cycling and rock climbing.
Brownber Hall Country House is situated at the border of Cumbria and North Yorkshire. Set in open farmland in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the house is the perfect place to stay for lovers of the outdoors. The England Coast to Coast walking route passes through Kirkby Stephen, so for many walkers stop at Brownber Hall on their way across the country.
Peter and Amanda love living in this corner of England, hosting and meeting new people all the time. Their passion is genuine and you will see it straight away. Brownber Hall guests are treated like friends, and they are well fed too as both hosts are keen cooks!
The shared spaces, the living and dining rooms, are on the ground floor of the house. Because of the number of guests staying in the property at any given time is small (around 10-15 people), Brownber Hall has a home-from-home feel and never feels busy.
You can tell that a lot of attention and love has gone into decorating the house and creating a space that is cosy, elegant, warm and modern at the same time. The decor is timeless and I think it appeals to guests in their 20’s-30’s and older generations too.
Tall windows overlooking the garden brighten the rooms with natural light. The first room you walk into is the lounge, with a comfortable sofa and armchairs facing the log fire. Bookshelves and cupboards are filled with books, magazines and board games that guests are welcomed to borrow.
The door to the right leads you into the drawing room, in which the first thing you notice is a cocktail bar counter stocked with bottles of wine and spirits.
The bar works on the concept of the honesty box: guests choose their preferred drink and serve themselves, making a note of what they have consumed, which will be added to their bill at checkout. I love the idea and I think it works really well in a place like Brownber Hall, a boutique guesthouse where guests want to have all the comforts without having to constantly ask for things.
On sunnier days, guests can relax on the terrace at the front the house.
There are 8 beautifully designed bedrooms at Brownber Hall (double, twin and single), all with an en-suite bathroom and views over the Howgill Fells. Jess, Jo, Kym and I picked up our rooms at random, not wanting to choose who stayed in which room. By a stroke of luck, I was given the keys to the Master Suite, the largest room (301sq ft) at Brownber Hall.
The Master Suite has a king size bed and a comfortable chaise longue which I loved to sit on in the morning, with a cup of tea, watching the sunrise and postcard worthy view over the Howgill Fells.
My bathroom had a wetroom shower, underfloor heating and fluffy towels, bathrobes and lovely Bramley toiletries.
I absolutely loved staying the Master Suite. I also got a look at some of the other rooms at Brownber Hall: each one was individually designed and has a distinctive character and bright pops of colours.
Some of the rooms are dog friendly and if you contact Peter and Amanda prior to booking they will do their best to accommodate you and your pet.
The two rooms on the left side of the house are reserved for dining, breakfast and dinner. And let me tell you, breakfast at Brownber Hall is an important affair! I loved sitting in the sunny room with my friends, drinking coffee, planning the day ahead, and nibbling on tasty food.
Brownber Hall guests are served a cooked breakfast dish of their choosing, such as Full English breakfast with all the trimmings or Waffles with crispy bacon and maple syrup.
There is also a small buffet of yoghurt, cereals, fresh fruits, and different spreads including their award-winning marmalade (made by Amanda using the recipe and method passed on to her from her mum “Ma Walker”).
As I mentioned before, on our arrival on the first day we were welcomed by an afternoon tea of homemade scones, jam and clotted cream. After a long train journey we all craved nothing more than a steaming cup of tea and the yummy scones were a delight!
If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s always homemade cake in the lounge! All guests are welcome to help themselves to a slice and ask for a cup of coffee or tea which the hosts will be happy to prepare for you.
After a few hours of resting in our bedrooms or reading by the log fire, we gathered again in the dining room for a glass of wine. Peter is passionate and very knowledgeable bout raw wines. He organised a small tasting for us to present the different bottles featured (at the time) on Brownber Hall’s wine list.
Brownber Hall offers dinner to guests from Thursdays to Sundays only. The Italian inspired menu is small, but with enough delicious options to make you want to eat here night after night: homemade pasta with seasonal ingredients but also some meat dishes. Desserts were also delicious, I still remember the decadent chocolate fondant with homemade honeycomb ice cream.
I highly recommend the stone-baked pizzas made using their own sourdough.
A walk through Howgill Fells
You could be spending your days relaxing inside the house, but if you are here it is likely you will want to enjoy the scenery and go for a walk. With the Howgill Fells at your doorstep, it would be a crime not to!
The Howgill Fells are a small group of hills situated in the area between the villages of Sedbergh, Kirkby Stephen and Tebay. I have read about a great walk that climbs into Howgill Fells and takes you all the way to Sedbergh, offering staggering views over the Cumbria landscape and North Yorkshire. We didn’t go as far (not on foot at least!) but we still enjoyed a nice walk of a couple of hours in the company of sheep and cows.
We walked all the way to old viaduct, before returning back home to the guest house along the same path. If you prefer to cycle, Brownber Hall has a handful of hybrid bikes for rent; Peter and Amanda will recommend you nice cycling routes.
Waiting for us at the guest house was a packed lunch of freshly-made sandwiches, crisps and a much needed cup of tea. We ate our lunch in front of the fireplace in the living room and talked about our morning walk and plans for the afternoon. With clouds looming over us, we decided against another walk in the countryside and instead made a plan to visit the nearby town of Sedbergh.
Exploring the town of Sedbergh
Sedbergh is a little market town in Cumbria, a hidden gem on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales (about 20-25 minutes from Brownber Hall by car).
The main street is dotted with charming shops and cosy pubs. In Sedbergh that day, I learnt that shops close very early on Saturdays in small towns in northern England. Most shops, including the local newsagent, pharmacy and food deli, were closed by the time we arrived on the Main Street (at around 3pm on a Saturday).
While the street was eerily quiet, the local café was open and busy. The Three Hares is a family run seasonal and locally sourced café, bistro and bakery and we stopped there to grab a cup of coffee and slice of cake to take away.
I truly enjoyed my stay at Brownber Hall and cherished every minute spent in the lush English countryside! This weekend was a lovely reminder of how much I love Great Britain and how much this country has to offer.
I hope travel will resume soon so that you can visit this gem of a guest house! If you want to get a glimpse of my weekend in Cumbria, you can also watch my saved Instagram Stories here.
Disclaimer: I stayed at Brownber Hall as a guest as part of a press trip. All opinions are my own.