Whenever possible, Best Beloved and I wander down unknown lanes and chase whatever has caught our fancy. It’s our version of a gallivant.
So, when the outline of a castle beckons along a much travelled route…
Close to the intersection of the A66 and the A685, is the village of Church Brough.
And on the edge of the village is a picturesque ruin.
When the Normans conquered the non-mountainous bits of Cumbria around 1092, they built a defensive tower at Brough.
They chose a high spot, one already bearing the earthworks and remains of a far older Roman fortification, Verteris. (One of a series along the main Roman road from York to Carlisle.)
A few generations later, thick curtain walls and a strong stone keep were added.
Later still, luxurious residential digs were built, altered, and rebuilt.
The site commands a far-reaching view.
Brough Castle is now managed by English Heritage. They don’t charge an entry fee, which is a pleasant surprise.
Entry is via a path crossing a field dotted with sheep, and then through a simple turnstile.
When you look back through the gatehouse, all is peace and rural beauty. It certainly hasn’t always been this way.
The current stone keep was built more than 800 years ago, replacing another that was destroyed in a siege – courtesy of some fiery Scots.
Even in ruins, it is imposing.
Fire, violence, and time have done much damage.
That it can stand so tall whilst bearing massive wounds is a testament to those who built the tower’s walls.
From our cosseted modern life, it is difficult to image the strife that would have caused such a building to be built.
And not just the one building – successive fortresses.
From the inside looking out, toward the west.
It’s a good place for a quick visit.
No day out is complete without a bite to eat. Again, this place delivers.
Independently owned, Brough Castle Farm (Ice Cream Parlour and Tearoom), has all the savouries or sweets you might need to sustain your exploration. And it is accessible directly from the castle.
BB and I ate sandwiches and then partook of some delicious Butter Pecan Ice Cream. (A flavour that reminds me of my Pa. One of his favourites.)
Altogether, an atmospheric and inexpensive place to enjoy a bit of a wander.