Short break - Brownber Hall, Kirkby Stephen
- Credit: Archant
Brownber Hall mixes laid-back style with vintage charm and the ultimate sourdough. Kathryn Armstrong discovers a remote getaway.
Brownber Hall doesn't look like the kind of place where you'll sit down to one of the best pizzas of your life.
From the outside it looks grand, solid and country house-ish. Somewhere with the potential for ceremony-standing and dressing for dinner.
But no, Definitely no. Once inside you'll grab the Scrabble set, pick up the papers and sink in to comfy chairs and curated furnishings, from vintage eBay finds to eclectic pieces such as the 1950s cocktail cabinet with its honesty bar.
On arrival you come face to face with affable young owners Peter and Amanda Jaques-Walker and their homemade cakes languishing beneath a glass dome which demands 'eat-me'. It'd be rude not to.
Settling in is easy. This is relaxation central. Not a jot of formality, just simple comfort and the ease of being among friends.
The couple relocated from London to transform the hall into this restful boutique B&B.
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This is a place for fresh air, big walks and time to think. Bring the dogs - they love well-behaved hounds here - they get their own pamper in comfy beds in their owners' nice rooms.
The hall is officially (as of 2016) part of the Yorkshire Dales National park, a 'slither' of the Yorkshire Dales between Cumbria and The Lake District, not far from Kirkby Stephen.
It's a place for adventure and exploration if that's your thing. A good walk from the front door take you to the impressive Smardale Viaduct.
But it's just as easy to stay put and enjoy the peace. Bring a book. The vibe is calm and that's a lot to do with the wonderful surroundings. It feels remote, hugged as it is by hills and an endless landscape on all sides.
That honesty bar proves irresistible. Local beers and gins are waiting as well as organic prosecco and easy-drinking wines. Have fun playing bartender then leave a note in the book of what you've had.
The hall has been painstakingly rescued and revived by Peter and Amanda who have made the most of the many original features. The house was built from local limestone in 1860 updating the original manor house of the Fothergills, a prominent family who lived in the area for many generations. The old manor house, close to the hall, known as Tower House, was home to Mary Elizabeth Gaunt who was the last woman in Britain to be burnt at the stake for treason in 1685!
Brownber's eight ensuite rooms are packed with character - instead of wardrobes, the owners commissioned a local blacksmith to create useful hanging rails for your clothes.
The tasty Brownber sourdough finds its way to the breakfast and in the evenings when the convivial dining room turns elegant pizza parlour, as sourdough pizzas. They are offered as main courses with salad or antipasti as starters.
Neopolitan-style pizzas all have great bases, nicely charred and chewy, topped with whatever takes your fancy from the menu.
Try the anchovy and olive or the Cumbrian air-dried ham toppings. Back to the sofas for chat, wine then a big sleep in a sumptuously comfy bed, waking up to heavenly fellside views. No faulting superb breakfasts. Good coffee then the Cumbrian works or homemade treats like granola, muesli, fruit compote.
After this a walk is wise. Grab one of the expertly prepared print-outs with walking routes from the front door.
The seven-mile route to the lovely village of Ravenstonedale ends up at the very welcoming Black Swan Hotel which is perfect for a post-walk pint.
Rooms at Brownber Hall cost from £90 for a double room
Pizzas from £7