A NEW multi-million-pound premium country inn and hotel opens the doors to its first guests today.

The Fleece at Ruleholme, near Brampton, is readying for a full scale opening later this month with a private function tonight.

The 23-bedroom hotel, restaurant, pub and wedding/conference venue sits on the site of the old Golden Fleece, off the A689.

It will employ around 50 full-time, and up to 30 part-time, staff when fully operational.

Staff are now busy putting the finishing touches to the building in time to welcome its first guests.

Co-owner David Corkill said he was delighted the wraps would soon be off The Fleece and guests could see and enjoy its facilities.

He said: “There is such a buzz of nervous excitement. We think we’ve created something pretty special, and we just want to make sure we get it right when we finally welcome people in.

“This has been such a journey. Building through the pandemic was something no one could have foreseen. To be at the stage where we now have staff in for training and we’ll be opening our doors to the public very soon is what we’ve been working towards.

“There has been a hospitality facility on this site for several hundred years and we are continuing the tradition and setting it up for, hopefully, the next 100 at least.”

After tonight’s event, there will be a series of small-scale events for members of The Fleece’s email list to test out the kitchen and bars.

David and business partner Robert Cowan are then aiming to throw open the doors to the public on Friday, November 26.

After that they’re into the celebratory Christmas party season.

Robert said: “The party nights have sold really well, we’ve had to add extra dates, so we know there are a lot of people really keen to see what we’ve done.

“The building will not disappoint, it is a spectacular addition to the hospitality scene in Cumbria. Now all our focus is on making the customer experience the very best it can be.”

The Fleece boasts a traditional country inn, meals served in the glass-fronted Oak room, fine dining in Bridge restaurant and 200 covers in Hadrian’s Suite wedding and function room.