The path less trodden: An unforgettable stay at Farlam Hall

Ellie Forbes crosses the border for a staycation to remember at Farlam Hall. 

If you are travelling down the M6 for a staycation it could be assumed you’re headed for the Lake District or Northumberland.

But I recently stopped just short of these ever popular tourist traps, in an overlooked part of Cumbria, nestled just seven miles from Carlisle.

It’s in Brampton you’ll find Farlam Hall, an idyllic bolthole steeped in history.

A short drive from Hadrian’s Wall, the 15th-Century property was a family home for centuries and was later developed into a manor house in the mid-1800’s by the Thompson family. 

I have always had mixed feelings about ‘staycations’ which go back to even before the pandemic made them popular. 

There always seems to be more pressure involved than the traditional holiday, where the promise of a bucks fizz at breakfast and the warm sunshine quells most complaints. 

On home soil however, boredom can set in quickly and the need to ‘have fun’ builds like a pressure cooker as the days go on because everyone knows you could have been abroad for the price of a weekend stay. But there is an alchemy at Farlam Hall you feel the moment you step inside, and I think we’re in for a treat. 



Picture perfect setting

We arrive along a picturesque winding drive, past immaculately manicured gardens and a pond, with rolling hills and lush pastures all around.

A friendly receptionist named Katie hurries out to greet us as we arrive and treats us to a wonderful tour of the house, detailing all of its history and giving us a who’s who in the black and white pictures that adorn the walls.

We are shown to the cosy bar area and told how Stephenson’s Rocket was given a test run in Farlam’s grounds in 1829.

In the lounge, there is a marble fireplace surrounded by plush sofas you can sink into while enjoying one of the many books dotted around and the ticking of the historic Stephenson’s Clock in the background. 

The clock, encased in a modern see-through cabinet, was donated to the hotel and was put into the lounge for guests to enjoy.

Inside one of the rooms at Farlam Hall

A home away from home

After exploring the main house, Katie ushers us away to a private stable block where we will be spending the night.

The cottage has a modern kitchen, living room, with a dining area, if you don’t fancy heading over to the restaurant for dinner, and a patio overlooking the vegetable garden and sheep-dotted fields.

The furnishings are an elegant mix of antique and contemporary and the exposed beams overhead finished in a whitewash to give the whole space a bright and airy feel.

Upstairs there is a massive master bedroom, another seating area, and an ultra modern bathroom with a free-standing claw foot bathtub (my idea of heaven on a getaway).

It has all the usual gadgets, a Nespresso machine, smart TV’s in the living room and bedroom. 

But some luxurious additions have been carefully put in, like Molton Brown toiletries and a Dyson hairdryer, which I could never splurge on in the real world. 

It’s tranquil, and calming, with the smooth sound of Classic FM coming from a radio next to the bed.

Chef Hrishikesh Desai

A foodie’s feast

We are booked in to try out award-winning chef Hrishikesh Desai’s seven course tasting menu that evening. 

Hrishikesh joined Farlam Hall earlier this year after picking up a Michelin Star at Gilpin Lodge, near Windermere, in 2016.

His ambitions are to develop the whole hotel into a dining experience, with his plans for a kitchen garden well underway – it’s already producing fruit and veg for the kitchen.

When we arrive for dinner we are shown to The Cedar Tree restaurant, a classy dining room overlooking the 150-year-old tree that gives it its name.

The meal starts with a popcorn cone of Garbanzo Chaat, an Indian street food, with a sweet and spicy salsa. It came with a side of olives, but to my surprise the crispy shells were filled with an explosion of olive-flavoured liquid.

Next up are the snacks, Poolish bread made with flour from a mill 10 minutes down the road, and served with homemade butter. It’s warm and slightly sweet.

Two bite sized canapes also arrive. One is a pani puri filled with a fragrant Thai style carrot sauce and topped by a delicate carrot tuile, and the other is a beef tartare with smoked potato and crispy enoki mushroom.

The starters began with a scallop and mackerel, with pickled garden beetroot and a Konkan curry consomme. It’s deliciously light and the clear consomme packs a punch.

Picking vegetables from the hotel garden

It’s paired perfectly with a Riesling wine, a classic match for mackerel our sommelier Alex tells us.

Duck liver parfait follows and it’s simply a work of art. Served inside a sphere with a cherry and jalapeño puree, it’s devine. The tiny sphere reflects like a mirror and cracks perfectly when you put your fork through it. It’s served with warm brioche, which was lighter than air and delicious when smeared with the parfait.

I was blown away by the fish course, a translucent, melt in the mouth loin of coin wrapped in white crab meat in a courgette flower. It oozed flavour having been poached in duck fat, and served with a butter emulsion and a creamy mushroom ragout.

Loin of cod

The last of the mains was a tandoori longhorn beef Wellington. Perfectly pink meat served inside a glistening crust, it was everything and more you want in a piece of beef.

It perfectly sums up Hrishikesh’s fusion of Indian cuisines and the classics. 

Tandoori longhorn beef Wellington.

By this point I can’t believe we still have two courses left, but Hrishikesh really did save the best for last. 

Our first dessert is a zingy frozen passion fruit cream with raspberries, meringue, black pepper and a yoghurt sorbet. It’s refreshing and the sorbet perfectly balances out the sweetness of the passion fruit. 

Then a sliver of salted caramel tart, a decadent dark chocolate sponge with vanilla and ginger ice cream. The chocolate is rich and gooey, while the tart has the perfect crunch. Once again the ice cream is incredibly smooth and balances out the dish with a hit of ginger.

The desserts are washed down with a couple of quality dessert wines which were curated just as perfectly as the rest of the meal’s wine.

Suitably stuffed and satisfied we finish with a coffee and some beautiful petit fours before waddling back to our cottage notably speechless about the three hour experience.

Our stay is spectacular, from the room to the outstanding service of a dedicated staff who are so obviously behind Hrishikesh’s whole philosophy for the hotel. 

They say Farlam Hall claims to sit proudly on the path less trodden, and those who discover it don’t tend to forget it. And boy is that true.

Farlam Hall Hotel & Restaurant, A689, Hallbankgate, Brampton CA8 2NG, 016977 46234.

Read more news and reviews on Scottish Field’s food and drink pages.

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