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" Talkin Tarn and the Roman Wall "

Date & start time: Thursday 17th March 2016.

Location of Walk : Talkin Tarn, Brampton, Carlisle, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 544 590 )

Places visited : Talkin Tarn Blacksmiths Arms, Birdoswald and back to Carlisle.

Walk details :    1.3 mls,  negligible feet of ascent, 1 hour or so.

Highest point : The car park !

Walked with : Ann and our dogs, Harry and Dylan.

Weather : Sunshine and blue skies.


© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number PU 100034184.


A day away from the Lake District today as we needed the car to be serviced at Subaru Carlisle.

With the kind offer of a courtesy car and more sunny weather Ann and I (plus the dogs) took ourselves off for a few hours

exploring the old Roman border country around Bampton, Gilsland and Birdoswald.

I drove past this lake on a Farmer's trip nearly two years ago

and promised myself to return and explore the area in more detail . . . today was our chance to do so.

The Talkin Tarn area is a Country Park administered by Cumbria County Council.

We walked down to the lakeside to check out the potential for the dogs on the 1.3 mile 'round the lake' path.

" Dogs must be kept under strict control, on should be on leads in fields with sheep." 

That sounds fine so we set off clockwise past the boating centre and cafe (sadly closed today).

Plenty of folk about, many of whom were dog owners.

We said 'hello' to several people but the dogs said hello to all their fellow walkers.

A log looking like a dog . . .

Two dogs looking like  . . .

They were not impressed with the authenticity of the sculpture.

Talkin Woods . . . mixed conifer and broadleaf . . .
. . . obviously part of the old estate woodlands.

A small stone building was set out as a bird observatory with a colourful painted rather than photographic bird chart.

The inside of the room was beautifully painted too.

The view across the lake to the boating Centre . . . we were now nearly half-way around the tarn.

The sluice of Sluice Wood . . . the only exit stream for the whole lake.   It has no other significant rivers in or out.

For those who remember their school geography, this is a Kettle Hole lake. . . "a depression in a glacial out wash drift

made by the melting of a detached mass of glacial ice that became wholly or partly buried."

A fallen tree with its unusual reflection.
A stone cairn strangely missing from maps and diagrams.

[ It seems a path going somewhere near the cairn started a short distance back along the lake, just after the bird hide.]

More fallen trees lie along the edge of the tarn.

Green strands of algae 'decorate' the edge of the water.

The area was presumably the former estate of this building, Tarn End House, sadly in a poor state since closing as a hotel in 2004.

There is a planning application with the authorities to turn it in to eighteen two bedroomed apartments but little sign of movement at present.

The road past the old house/hotel can be seen on the left.

This is effectively the view guests would have enjoyed in days gone by.

Click here or on the photo above for a special Loweswatercam large annotated panorama.

There were several nice rustic wooden seats around the tarn to use whilst stopping to admire the view.

A neat black-headed gull perches out on an old redundant post clear of the reeds.

Three quarters of the way round is the Living Willow shelter.

The live willow saplings were planted and then trained to grow into an enclosure, with posts for seats inside.

Parts of the lake are suffering a bloom of green algae.    It is stronger in places presumably blown by the breeze.

The algae growth is often associated with slow moving water and high nutritional content, such as that found in farm fertiliser

and the outflow from household septic tanks.  It may not be the case here but that was the diagnosis after studies in our local lake.

Back to the boathouse where we started our walk.

Old photos of the area showing recreation over the years can be found at the Talkin Tarn website

- - - o o o - - -

Time for lunch !

I gathered the impression that dogs were only allowed in the garden however so fortunately the weather was in our favour again.

. . . and what a nice lunch it was and good value for money.

I would have had a bigger smile but the beer would have dribbled down my shirt !

- - - o o o - - -

As we had an hour to spare we had time to take in some of the sights of the Roman Wall.

We drove out to Gilsland and then crossed the valley, returning down the other side.

The red line is the course of the wall . . . we had already crossed it in the village without noticing.

A viewpoint on the back road with a seat to relax on and take in the view.

That dark wall in the meadow opposite is the remains of the Roman structure. It can be seen behind the trees on the left,

alongside the farm, down across the field, over an old Roman Bridge at the river (long gone) then up to Birdoswald on the skyline.

We parked at the conveniently placed car park and walked the short distance to the wall itself.

The wall as it heads east to Gilsland . . . beyond the end of the field

it drops rapidly to the river at the Willowford Bridge abutment and then on past the farm seen earlier.

Birdoswald has the classic remains of a rectangular wall fort . . . here the foundations of a rounded corner tower.

Remnants of the wall and ditch . . . the left hand buildings are of a later date.

Interpretive signs give some idea of the past.

" The visible remains at Birdoswald bear witness to all parts of its 1,800-year history 

from the complete circuit of Roman fort walls, Roman granaries and ‘Dark Age’ hall buildings to the foundations of a medieval tower house,

a 16th-century baste house and a 19th-century Victorian romantic landscape. "   from the English Heritage web site.

Available for holiday let and conferences . . . sleeps 39 !

The walls of the fort would have been some 4-5 metres high around the fort

but much stone was probably taken to construct many of the more modern buildings locally.

- - - o o o - - -

We'll leave the wall now as we return to town.

On the way back we passed Lanercost Priory . . . ( some of those stones look remarkably Roman to me !)

The 12th Century Lanercost Priory is now a ruin due to the border skirmishes.

The English Heritage site now includes a tearoom, shop, a museum and visitor information centre.

A final picture of Spring lambs in the nearby fields . . . born earlier than those of the hill sheep in upland areas like ourselves.

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220, or my Canon 1100D Digital SLR.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a courtesy car and a good map.

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Previous walk - 14th March 2016 - Haystack with Sherran and Bill

A previous time up here - 9th June 2014 - Loweswater Farmers Summer Trip 2014