STARRY, starry nights… A revamped Cumbrian hotel is set to offer stargazing sessions at historic Hadrian’s Wall.
Gilsland Hall Hotel, two miles North of the wall and near the village that bears its name, plans dark sky delights.
It is, the owners like to point out, “An England beyond Hadrian’s Wall”. Now, that’s one for the pub quiz.
Guests will head to the Wall – five minutes by car or an hour’s gentle walk – to see the star-studded night in all its glory.
The package includes a backpack with waterproof rug and blanket, home-made sausage rolls, a flask filled with a hot drink, binoculars and a star guide.
Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Romans in AD122 and the stroll there and back is over National Trust land.
What’s more, children will get a special certificate if they walk part of the Wall during their stay.
Gilsland Hall, set within 140 acres of landscaped gardens and woodland, can trace its own history back to the 1740s, and was visited by both Robert Burns and Walter Scott.
Rebuilt in 1859, it served as a convalescent home in the early 1900s before becoming a hospital during the First World War, where soldiers recuperated before returning to the front line.
During the Second World War it was used as a maternity hospital.
Currently, it’s a three-star country house hotel boasting 60 bedrooms – but all that is about to change.
After a limited summer season opening until the beginning of October, it will temporarily close for a full-scale refurbishment, emerging next year as a five-star hideaway.
The revamp will include new suites and patio rooms, and there’ll be a new luxury spa and a screening room.
The hotel will be operated by Monday Hospitality Group under its new country house hotel brand, Black Book Hotels.
Perfect for outdoorsy types in the era of the Great British Staycation, it’s the ideal base for exploring the area by car, on foot or by bike. As well as the Wall, Carlisle, Gretna, Hexham and Newcastle are all within reach.
Birdoswald Roman Fort, regarded as being at the heart of the wall, is close by in Gilsland.
The stargazing package is currently £220 for a double room, based on two sharing and including three-course dinner, bed and breakfast, it’s an affordable option for those looking for adventure in the UK.
Oh, and yes, dogs can stay free of charge.
Guest rooms currently comprise a mix of singles, twins and doubles, with cotton linen, luxury bathroom amenities, flatscreen TV, complimentary bottled water, Birchall tea, Kru Cafe coffee and biscuits.
Garden views and deep soak bathtubs are available on request.
The Orangery restaurant serves a breakfast buffet and three-course dinner big on locally sourced ingredients. The Conservatory, with a garden terrace, offers all day dining and afternoon tea.
If the weather’s favourable, Gilsland Hall can supply a rug and hamper for guests to enjoy a picnic in the grounds, or a packed lunch to take away on a hike or exploring the local area.
There’s pitch and putt at the hotel – with an 18-hole golf course just down the road – and the hotel has fishing rights on the nearby River Irthing.
And here’s a tip if you’re looking for love.
The Popping Stone, half a mile from the hotel in a secluded glade, is the subject of a local folk tale claiming that the stones are lucky for lovers – and it’s a popular site for marriage proposals.
For information, booking and latest Covid advice see www.gilslandhall.com
* If you’re looking for stargazing adventure in the Swiss Alps, take a look here at an eye-catching initiative for when travel gets back to normal.