“We now approach the mountains on the borders of Northumberland, which are heavy and disagreeable; but to atone for their bare surface and unpleasant appearance, they produce great quantities of coal and limestone”.
(Jollie’s Cumberland Guide & Directory 1811– Chap. 9 Route from Carlisle to the east)
The Parish of Farlam is a rural fellside parish that extends from Milton in the west to Midgeholm in the east. The town of Brampton is approximately 3 miles to the north. To the south sit the Pennines with the fells filling the skyline, ‘Tindale’, ‘Brown’, ‘Cold’, ‘Whinny’ and ‘Talkin’ such interesting names. In places the coal seams were very shallow allowing easy access to the coal from very early times.
The parish became a thriving community with coal mines, quarries, brick yards, railways and farms, everything in fact to maintain the coal mines and the people who worked them. The development the steam locomotive played a very large part in maintaining the viability of the coal mines on the fells. Hallbankgate became the main village and is surrounded by a number of smaller villages, of which Farlam, Kirkhouse and Tindale are the largest.
The Fells are no longer looked on as disagreeable or unpleasant but more as an area to be explored and enjoyed and a number of the old track beds are now used by walkers and cyclists.
The North Pennine Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Geltsdale RSPB nature reserve and Talkin Tarn Country Park are partially within the parish.
Talkin Tarn is of glacial origin, being formed about 10,000 years ago, it is fed by underground streams. The walk around the Tarn edge is 1.3 miles on a hard surfaced path that is accessible to all.. There are also three marked trails of varying lengths; 1.5km, 2.5km and 3.5km starting from the car park and on into woods and fields. In 2012 two areas were added into the Park and planted with thousands of trees.
On site there is a Tearoom, Gift shop and lots of other facilities, including toilets.
The parish church is 'St. Thomas A Becket' and is situated in Kirkhouse, just off the A689. Was built in the middle of the nineteenth century adjacent to the site of a twelfth century church of the same dedication. The old churchyard has a grave of the Bell family of Farlam, the son of whom was Joseph Bell, Chief Engineer on the Titanic, the head stone (with family consent) has been inscribed as a memorial to him.
Hallbankgate Village School and Nursery is very highly thought of in the area and is housed in a building constructed in 1856 and as was the practice at the time teachers accommodation was provided. At Hallbankgate a house for the Head Master was provided at one end and one for the Head Mistress at the other.
The village shop building had its foundation stone laid in 1874 and over the years it has undergone a number of changes. It has now been purchased by Hallbankgate Hub.
The ‘Belted Will’ Public House and Bed & Breakfast in the centre of the Hallbankgate has been an hostelry since the seventeenth century. During the Temperance movement in the eighteen hundreds it was an hotel and at an earlier time it was called ‘The Kings Arms'.
Farlam Hall Country House Hotel was once a Manor House but was modernised and extended in the mid 1820’s by the Naworth Estate Colliery Agent James Thompson, it was the Thompson family home for over a hundred years. It was purchased in 1975 by the present owners who have modernised it to the 4 Star level that it enjoys today.